Until this year, cherry was the only fruit pie flavor in the freezer section with strict government standards.

By Adam Campbell-Schmitt
April 23, 2019

So you want a cherry pie. Sometimes you have time to make a homemade cherry pie, and sometimes you grab a frozen cherry pie from the supermarket (no shade intended, just keep chanting Ina Garten’s mantra “Store-bought is fine”). If you’ve found yourself in the latter situation in the past 42 years, you’ve had the subconscious satisfaction of knowing your pie will be as ripe, red, and cherry-full as the day is long. That’s due to a 1977 Food and Drug Administration standard which required all frozen cherry pies (of the un-prebaked variety) to be 25-percent cherries by weight, with 85 percent of those fruits duty-bound to be unblemished. “Neat!,” you might be thinking. “What other pie rules are on the books?” Well, there really aren’t a ton, as no other fruit pies bear any similar standard of excellence, which is why, as of this month, the FDA will seek to strip cherry pies of their once-stringent regulations.

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The move comes as part of a sweeping deregulation effort by the Trump administration, which is tackling everything from immigration and banking to more minute and, perhaps somewhat, arcane regulations like how many cherries constitute a cherry pie, the Associated Press reports. Will this usher in an era of Snapple-liked pie imposters which “contain only 10 percent real cherries?” That remains to be seen, though a representative of the American Baker’s Association, which has petitioned against the standard since 1997, insists “I feel confident our members are producing cherry pies with more than enough cherries.” To that end, lifting the blemished cherry limit actually feels like it’s right in line with the current movement to embrace and utilize so-called “ugly produce” in an effort to fight food waste.

According to Eater (citing the Wall Street Journal), the only reason the FDA probably put the standards in place to begin with is simply that the agency was probably petitioned to. Whoever these petitioning, pie-policing, cherry perfectionists were, their call for pristine (unbaked) frozen pies is no longer deemed necessary by the FDA and its outgoing commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who tweeted plans to address cherry pie standards last year. The revocation was scheduled for April 19, however, that date was announced last June and, according to the agency, was subject to change. The FDA also plans to take another look at French Dressing as well, another product that has few peers with similarly strict regulations.

Of course, if you make your own cherry pie, you can toss in as few or as many cherries as you like, even opt-for an all-blemished filling! Check out our best cherry dessert recipes here.

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