It’s a chilly fall day and a sweet, familiar scent of apples and cinnamon wafts from the kitchen – you recognize it immediately as a delicious apple pie, and your whole day gets a bit brighter. But have you ever stopped to consider what innovations are behind this mouthwatering classic? Next time you grab a slice, be sure to think of four of our incredible National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductees whose inventions you might encounter when making this famous dessert!
What would apple pie be without apples? Thanks to horticulturalist Sylvia Blankenship and biochemist Edward Sisler, we never have to find out! The pair identified 1-methylcyclopropene (1- MCP), a novel compound that significantly extends the freshness and storage life of fruits, vegetables and cut floral products. Not only has their breakthrough helped to reduce food waste, but it also allows us year-round access to fresh fruits. Commercialized as SmartFresh™, 1-MCP is used on 50 to 70% of the apples harvested in the United States!
Sugar brings added sweetness to many of our favorite desserts. Despite being a common household ingredient today, sugar used to be a luxury item with a very dangerous and labor-intensive refining process. Rillieux revolutionized the sugar industry by inventing a new, safer refining process — evaporation in multiple effect, in which a series of vacuum pans heat one another in sequence. His process led to a higher-quality sugar product and is still in use today.
Another important pie component is the vessel that holds the ingredients together while baking and serving, giving the pie its shape – a glass pie plate. Sullivan was focused on glass research, looking for opportunities for development and innovation. He and fellow chemist William C. Taylor used borosilicate glasses that were low in expansion with great durability to create bakeware. Together, while working for Corning Inc., they developed PYREX® brand cookware and proved glass as a versatile engineering material. You may even have a PYREX pie dish in your cupboard now!
Are you ready to put your newfound apple pie knowledge into action? Take inspiration from these awesome inventions by working together as a family to create your own version of this classic dessert. Dust off a tried and true family recipe filled with love, or make new memories with a simple apple pie recipe – like this one from Pillsbury! As you go through your days eating your favorite dishes and engaging in activities you enjoy, we encourage you to stop and think of the incredible innovators whose hard work made it possible.
Visit our website to be introduced to more inspiring inventors whose ideas have improved the world around us.