Pie Safety on National Pi Day

National Pi Day is March 14th (3/14) every year.  Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is rounded to 3.14.  It is also the day to celebrate all the delicious pie types: pizza or pastry!

On Pi Day, whichever pie you choose, use simple food safety rules and procedures to keep them delicious and food safe! Also, take advantage of pizza pie and other pie-related promotions.

Pi Day or Pie Day?

It turns out there are actually two separate days every year when people come together to celebrate pie: National Pie Day on January 23 and Pi Day on March 14. It’s easy to confuse the two occasions, but here’s a quick breakdown of the two.

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Pi Day

For starters, Pi Day is about much more than stuffing your face with the flaky, fruit-filled desserts. Pi Day is about math, but thankfully, someone made it fun with pies. Best of all, a lot of people tend to celebrate the occasion with pizza, too, which arguably makes Pi Day better than National Pie Day.

In fact, Pi Day is when major restaurant chains — both pie purveyors and pizza joints — and other retailers roll out the best pie and pizza deals.

Pie Day

National Pie Day was created by Charlie Papazian, an American nuclear engineer, craft beer brewer, and author. Mr. Papazian is credited with creating the food holiday in the 1970s — after he audaciously declared his birthday to be National Pie Day. The American Pie Council, has sponsored the holiday since 1986.

Some restaurants — mostly local restaurants and regional chains — end up marking the date with free pie, discounts on pie, and other pie promotions.

Pastry Pies – Food Safety FAQs

Question: After a pie baked, does it have to be refrigerated – or can I leave it at room temperature?
Answer:  According to the United States Department of Agriculture, it’s not safe to eat homemade pies with egg-based fillings (including pumpkin pie) that have been allowed to sit at room temperature for two hours or longer.

The reason is that bacteria will grow rapidly when the homemade pie is kept at temperatures between 40° F and 140° F. To prevent foodborne illness, the pie should be refrigerated within two hours. It’s okay to place the pie in the fridge if it’s still warm.

Question: Why are store-bought pies ok when they are left out?
Answer: So why are store-bought pumpkin pies or pecan pies often displayed and sold unrefrigerated? Those pies contain preservatives and shelf-stable ingredients that allow them to be displayed and stored at room temperature. Commercially prepared pies that can be sold at room temperature should display an “RT” label; in any event they should be refrigerated after opening. Once you have cut into the store-bought pies, they should be refrigerated.

Question: If a pie contains milk, cream and or eggs, should it be refrigerated?
Yes. This includes milk and cream in any form – “regular” milk and cream (no matter what the fat content), buttermilk, sour cream, cream cheese, and evaporated and condensed milk products. Those ingredients contain high levels of protein and moisture that are fertile grounds for the growth of bacteria.

Question: What pies contain milk, cream or eggs?
Answer: Check your recipe. Typically pumpkin and pecan pies do contain eggs, but fruit pies do not. Lemon meringue and all types of chiffon pies contain eggs, so they have to be refrigerated.

Question: How does refrigeration help pies be food safe?
Answer: Refrigeration prevents the growth of bacteria, although not indefinitely as the occasional science experiment at the back of my refrigerator (a/k/a a forgotten container of leftovers from a long forgotten meal) attest.


2018 Pizza Pie Deals

On Pi Day, take advantage of these pizza pie and other pie-related promotions. Offers can vary by location so call ahead to be on the safe side. Also be prepared for restaurants to be busy.

Bertucci’s: All east coast locations are celebrating the “Week of Pi” by highlighting ongoing promotions like its “Two for Tuesday pizza special” called “Pi Twosday” this week and “Pi for Kids” Wednesday, which is the weekly kids eat free with $10.99 or more adult purchase special. Also this week, preview the new spring menu that rolls out March 19 and includes a Verde Pizza for “Pi Verde.”

BJ’s Brewhouse & Restaurant: Mini one-topping pizzas are $3.14 Wednesday. Dine-in only.

Blaze PizzaBuild your own pie for $3.14 all-day Wednesday at the company’s 245 traditional locations. Limit one per customer and in-restaurant only.

Cicis: Buy an adult buffet at regular price Wednesday and get a second adult buffet for $3.14.

Fired Pie: From 2 p.m. to close Wednesday, get any one-topping pizza for $3.14 with purchase of a drink.

Firenza Pizza: Get a one-topping 10-inch pizza for $3.14 with purchase of a drink Wednesday.

Flippers Pizzeria: MyPie Cheese Pizzas are $3.14 Wednesday.

Giordano’s: Get $3.14 off any online order Wednesday with code PIDAY314. Valid at all locations except Las Vegas Strip and Navy Pier.

Hungry Howie’s: With the purchase of any Howie Bread at regular menu price Tuesday and Wednesday, get a medium one-topping pizza for $3.14 with promo code PI18. Florida locations are not participating in this promotion.

Il Vicino Wood Oven Pizza: Margherita pizzas are $3.14 Wednesday, limit five per order.

Me-n-Ed’s Pizzeria: Get a personal one-topping pizza for $3.14 from 11 a.m. to 3:14 p.m. Wednesday for dine-in or take out. According to a Facebook post, you need to show a picture or email to redeem and one pizza per person.

Pagliacci Pizza: Buy any two slices for $3.14 or buy one 11-inch pizza and get one for $3.14 Wednesday.

Papa Murphy’s: Get a large, thin one-topping pizza for $3.14 for online orders Wednesday at participating locations. No promo code is needed.

Patxi’s Pizza: Through Wednesday, buy one pizza, get one free when you dine-in.

Pi Pizzeria: The chain is celebrating Pi Day and its 10th birthday this week. Wednesday offers include: Buy one large pizza, get another pizza for $3.14 Wednesday, get a free “4 Hands Pi” pint glass with any full-price draft beer purchase and if your birthday is March 14, get a free large pizza with a birth certificate or government ID. And through Thursday, there will be an all-day happy hour at full-service locations.

Pie Five: All specialty pizzas are $3.14 at participating locations. Limit one per person.

Pieology: New and existing Pie Life members, buy a regular-priced custom or chef-inspired 11-inch thin crust pizza and get any thin crust pizza for $3.14 Wednesday with an email coupon. Limit one coupon per transaction, per visit and this offer isn’t valid on online orders or on orders placed over the phone.

The Pizza Press: Get a pizza for $3.14 with the purchase of a drink Wednesday.

Rotolo’s Pizzeria: Get $3.14 off any large pizza Wednesday.

Whole Foods Markets will offer savings of $3.14 off any large pie from their bakery, while supplies last. Pie varieties will vary by region. And, as Whole Foods notes, all their pies are free of hydrogenated fats, bleached and bromated flours and artificial flavors or preservatives. Find your nearest location at www.wholefoods.com.


Happy Pi Day! Whichever pie you choose, use simple food safety rules and procedures to keep them delicious and food safe!