The "world's largest cherry pie" annually baked in George, Wash. for the Grant County town's Fourth of July celebration is about 200 square-feet off the record-setting mark, but a member of the women's service organization in charge of pie production says she doesn't have any Guinness ambitions.
"We think it's America's largest pie," says The Georgettes' Marylou Krautscheid, motioning at the 8-foot by 8-foot square pan brimming with 75 gallons of sugary pie filling. "It's not going to get any bigger, I'll tell you that."
The Georgettes have been using the same custom-made pan for the better part of the ritual's 55-year history. Longtime member Lena Gehring can't remember whether the first pies were made with cherries from town founder Charlie Brown's orchard, but recalls the early pies were double-crusted and baked in an outdoor brick oven near the town's community hall.
"The first pie burned because they didn't know how to adjust the oven's temperature," says Gehring, who makes the first ceremonial cut into the pie.
The oven was vandalized about 40 years ago, and The Georgettes soon after settled on their current recipe, which sticklers would classify as a cobbler preparation. A few days before the Fourth, club members cull from their accumulated inventory of patriotic cookie cutters to create pastry shapes for topping the tub of pie cherries. The design, which changes every year, is contributed by a local artist who last year added to her "very big baked goods" expertise by drafting the blueprint for a door-sized cake.
Merylou Krautscheid helps Lena Gehring serve the first slice of pie.
Although the pie's ingredients cost about $800, The Georgettes serve up generous spoonfuls for free. Distribution starts at noon, and the pan's typically emptied within 90 minutes.
The Georgettes have never pursued World Record honors, which are currently claimed the town of Oliver, B.C., which in 1990 produced a cherry pie about 37 times heavier than George's half-ton version. The pie-loving people of Oliver didn't save their pie pan, but the pan which held the previous record-setting pie remains on display in Traverse City, Mich. Unlike the pan used in George, it's round, and measures 17 feet across.
Guinness World Records has not officially recognized a largest cherry pie, but lists the world's largest cheese pie; pumpkin pie; potato pie and mince pie, a record which has stood since 1932, when residents of Leicestershire scared up 2260 pounds of mincemeat.
But Krautschied says the size and taste of George's pie will never change.
"It's always the same," she says. "This is a big tradition."