The ‘pie safe’ is perhaps one of the most iconic furniture spanning the decades and still used in modern homes across the country today. Sometimes referred to as a pie chest, the pie safe is a type of cupboard typically used to store, you guessed it, pies. In the past, some people used pie safes to store meat, perishables, and other items like salt and bread.
In current times, pie safes are most often used to store household items like non-perishable foods, linens, and serving dishes. However, when this piece of furniture first appeared in America, its design was intended to hold baked goods so that they could cool. German immigrants in Pennsylvania were responsible for the stylish design that quickly became a staple for homes across the country.
Traditional Design Of The Pie Safe
The pie safe, as we know it, can be traced back to the early 1700s. Traditionally built to store pastries and perishable goods, pie safes stylishly protected food from spoiling or being ruined by insects and rodents. Being around the same size as a bureau, the piece was often built perforated storage shelves that allowed the heat of baked goods to escape, cooling the food.
Doors were placed on the front and sides of the pie safe, usually made of screen, wire, or slatted wood to allow for further ventilation. One of the most popular door designs that come to mind when you think of a pie safe is punched tin. Tin doors punched with holes in decorative patterns such as stars and eagles quickly became the most popular due to their ability to circulate air while keeping unwanted particles from reaching the foods.
Importance Of Air Circulation
The pie safe’s design was not unintentional. Air circulation not only helps cool the baked goods but also prevents molds from forming. Until iceboxes were invented, pie safes offered families a way to avoid foods from ruining. Their role was essential in homes until the later part of the 19th century, when iceboxes became household staples and changed food storage.
Rustic Charm Of Pie Safes Today
The most common pie safe found in American homes today is a freestanding unit that reflects the style of the Pennsylvania Dutch region. Used less traditionally to store perishable foods, today’s pie safes are found in any room of the house holding any item imaginable. Sill valued for protecting contents from dust, debris, and vermin; pie safes have enjoyed a renewed popularity among homeowners who want the rustic charm they bring to their decor.