Monday, December 22, 2014

"Hand Pi Lives!" by Sofie Hartogh, St. Johns College - Santa Fe


The hand-pie, toastie or jaffle is a toasted sealed sandwich made in a low-tech ‘pie iron’ and cooked over a fire. In the U.S. the little pastry is known by many names: pudgy pie, hobo pie, mountain pie and  “Toas-Tite”, the brand name of the most popular pie iron press of the 50s. The shape of the two-sided Toas-Tite cooking mold produced a grilled sandwich in the likeness of a flying saucer. By 1925, an electric replacement for the pie iron press had been invented and the toastie cooked on a fire fell out of favor for home use, but it remained a popular camping utensil.

In the late 60s the sandwich found an unlikely new home: the country’s first renaissance fairs. The “Faire” itself was a fundraiser for an educational non-profit called the Living History Center. Soon the event grew into a celebration of history, community, music, folk-art, food and the free-flowing creativity of the 1960s.

Hand-Pies, as they were called at the Faire, were an excellent match for this historical ‘theme event,’ both in utility and philosophy. The molded press to make the sealed sandwich was low-tech and could have easily been made in the 1650s. Its making requiring only a fire, and the food product was easy to handle while traversing the many marvels of the Faire. The making of the product, as well as the manufacturing of the mold itself, also allowed for the expression of creativity and humor.  The logo of the original Hand Pie mold was the mathematical symbol pi superimposed on the silhouette of a hand, so when toasted, the image was branded onto the face of every pie.

Hand Pi lives!

The Hand Pi sandwich, the molds and the Hand Pi logo are symbols of the values around which they were created, and in this hold the weight of such roots. They hold part of the joy, extravagance, and creativity of the Renaissance Faire and the artistically inclined, tight-knit community that it created, as well as the best and most prophetic of that rebellious generation’s beliefs. The story and spirit of Hand Pi are inseparable from these values. Into the future, these foundations will sustain its vision and production, while providing firm footing from which to explore other avenues of possibility, such as larger scale philanthropic efforts, fundraising and ventures.

Sofie Hartogh
St.John’s College
Santa Fe, New Mexico


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