Pi Day is perfect for celebrating math, dropping nerdy puns galore, and eating America’s favorite circular, crust-contained dessert (pie, duh), so we’ve rounded up our favorite pie recipes and tips, Pi Day history, and Pi Day deals—even some fun pie-related merchandise. Dig in!
Pi Day History
Pi is the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, and a mathematical sign that represents a specific transcendental number. Pie is an often-transcendental dessert that needs no other explanation. They became linked for obvious homophonous reasons, but how did it all begin?
In 1988, physicist Larry Shaw of San Francisco’s Exploratorium designated March 14 as Pi Day because 3-14 matches the first three digits of the irrational number with the infinite decimal representation (i.e. if you wrote out the physical number of pi, you could keep writing forever, because the numbers after the decimal point don’t have a natural end). In 2009, March 14 was officially sanctioned as a U.S. holiday, but plenty of people celebrated it during the intervening two decades.
In 2007, for instance, Chowhound stephanie365 wrote for us: “I spoke with Dr. Lucianovic at Stanford University’s math department (who is, it should be noted in the interest of full disclosure, my husband) and asked why mathematicians love pi so much they give it a day of celebration. He said, ‘It’s one of the most fundamental constants of the universe. It describes the ratio of the circumference of any circle to its diameter [so it makes even more sense that it’s linked to one of the most beloved circular foods around!], but it also appears in some of the most basic equations of calculus, geometry, and number theory. Plus, mmmmmm … pi.'”
Pi Day also happens to be Albert Einstein’s birthday, which is both eminently fitting and another good reason to enjoy dessert!
Stephanie365 passed on this delicious bit of trivia too: On Pi Day, “at 3:14 p.m., Harvard’s math department starts its annual pie-eating contest. Hungry participants will have 3 minutes and 14 seconds to stuff as much pie down their mathematical gullets as possible. The winner is determined by the weight of the pastry left behind.”
We’re not sure if they still carry on that tradition, but last year, they hosted a public event that included a reading of the first 10,000 digits of pi…and free snack-size pies.
It’s safe to say that Pi Day has become something of a cultural juggernaut, even for those who find it hard to wrap their head around the intricacies of the mathematical concept that inspired it all (um, hi). Whether you love to geek out about it or just want a great excuse to eat pie, here are some of our favorite ways to celebrate!
Pi Day Recipes
See a slideshow of our top pie picks for the occasion (or for any day, really).
If you’re a cocoa lover, these chocolate pies were hand-picked just for you.
Speaking of hands, these little self-contained pockets of pastry goodness (with sweet or savory fillings) may not have the round circumference of their full-size cousins, but they’re well worth celebrating on their own merits. See our favorite hand pie recipes.
Hey, pizza pie totally counts too! Get acquainted with these different pizzas from across the country. And if you’re not up for making your own, you can see where to order several regional styles wherever you may be.
If you don’t know what’s for dinner on 3-14, consider one of these savory pie recipes.
Pi Day Deals
$3.14 is a pretty nice price for lunch, right? Check out CNET’s round-up of the best deals for snagging cheap eats on Pi Day!
Pi Day Facts
Just like last year, all-knowing Google gave us data on which kind of pie each state has been searching for over the past year; savory pies really took a hit, but a certain fruity combo is sweeping the nation. See the most popular pie in every state (and how to make every single one).
Ever wondered what makes these sweet (or savory) treats different? We’ve got the answer.
Pi Day Gear
One great way to celebrate is to bake your own pie, of course. Bonus points if you get a little (or a lot) nerdy with it. These Pi Day kitchen tools will help.
You obviously need this for next year (or all year if you can appreciate puns).Buy Now
This is a rather understated pie server, but it gets the point across.Buy Now
If you prefer Pi Day cookies, this cutter may inspire an irrational amount of love—and if you want to stay totally on-theme, you can also use it to cut pi-shaped dough to decorate an actual pie.Buy Now
Math jokes may not be a prime source of laughs, but this one is pretty funny, even if you have to have someone translate it for you.Buy Now
An apple “pi” apron is a cute accessory for any baking nerd.Buy Now
Pi Day Activities
Besides just ordering a pizza or snagging a slice of pie at a local bakery (many of which could really use the help, with coronavirus closures dealing a blow to their business), consider some of these worthy pursuits. Granted, we did write about them for Thanksgiving, but they’re still relevant for 3-14.
If you want to take an active part, be inspired by Chowhound TorontoJo and bake a whole bunch of pies—and be sure to share them with the community if you do! Here’s how to bake three pies at once, which seems like a good start.
Pairing beer with pie is a fantastic idea (and we don’t just mean beer and pizza pie). Of course, you can also cut straight to the chase and seek out some pastry beers—or just make pie cocktails. Either way, do remember this sage advice from Stephanie365, in case you get pie-eyed: “Don’t drink and derive.”
Happy Pi Day!
Visit our pie headquarters if you’re still hungry for more.
Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.