What’s for Lunch? Jonathan’s Apple Pie

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Pi Day is all about celebrating mathematics and how we use math in our everyday lives. Pi is everywhere around us where we see circles, cylinders, and spheres.

One of my favorite “circles” in the world is the pie.

My family isn’t crazy for cake at celebration – we love pie! One of my favorite memories is when I tricked my mom by making a “fake” apple pie for Thanksgiving. What is a fake apple pie? During World War II, apples were hard to come by, so a chemist Nabisco who wanted an apple pie figured out a great way to make a fake one using Ritz Crackers.

Using a simple chemistry and a knowledge of how human senses work, a mock apple pie relies on the mixing of artificial flavors to simulate the taste, smell, and consistency of a real apple pie, but without using any apples.

Many scientists believe that the flavor has nothing to do with the chemicals, but is about tricking our own flavor receptors to think, “If it smells like an apple pie, looks like an apple pie, and has the same consistency of an apple pie, it MUST be an apple pie.” Try the recipe yourself and see if you can trick the senses.

Mock Apple Pie Recipe

• 1 1/2 cups white sugar
• 1 1/2 cups water
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 30 Ritz crackers
• 1 (9 inch) double pie shell

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
2. In a saucepan, combine sugar, water, butter, cream of tartar and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, and continue to boil for 2 minutes.
3. Place crackers in pie shell. Pour hot syrup over.
4. Add top crust, seal, and flute edges. Bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes.

Students should have adult supervision when attempting this recipe.

What do you think is going on with this apple pie mystery? We’d love to hear your thoughts about the processes behind this experiment. Share your ideas with Discovery Education on Twitter and Facebook

Beyond apple pie and circles, Pi is used in many other places including sine waves (radio, phone, TV, radar) and paths around the curvature of the Earth (GPS, navigation, flight paths, orbits). Where do YOU see Pi in your everyday life? Don’t forget to share on Twitter and Facebook.


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