February 17, 2010 | 4:44pm
Back in the days of required home economics class--before it was called Life Skills or whatever PC term schools call it now--students (at least in the South) were at some point required to perform an experiment with an apple pie. But not just any apple pie...
On the day the teacher handed out the assignment, students would look around at one another after the blindfolds were removed and wonder why in the world the ingredients on the table included Ritz crackers but no apples. Because see, they could swear they just tasted apples, and butter and crust. Except that there were, in fact, no apples in the pie. It was a chemical reaction created with cream of tartar, buttery crackers, water, sugar and possibly lemon juice. The experiment highlighted just how one's sense of taste could be tricked, and everyone ran home that night and begged Mom to let them deplete the cracker cache, so they, too, could prove the family taste buds wrong.
But before the mock apple pie
ever became a lab experiment, it was a money saver. Apparently, some cook--or chemist, perhaps--developed the recipe to save some dough (ha!) on sweet treats. Either in the pioneer age or during WWII, both of which claim the first recipe depending on what sort of crackers are used, apples were seemingly scarce, as well as expensive. So, easily made (or purchased) crackers filled in for the bulk...in the same way Granny padded her meatloaf with soda crackers, but, well, sweeter.
So, Aters, when was the last time you--or your kiddos--made a mock apple pie? Was it for class credit or to save cash? And since Kraft warns at the link above to watch the portion size, just how much of a slice could you make it through last time you had it?