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One-Pie Canned Pumpkin Purée | History and Recipes

One-Pie Canned Pumpkin Purée | History and Recipes
8 votes, 4.38 avg. rating (86% score)

The holiday season arrives under many banners: Pilgrim plays at school, the bloom of Christmas lights. For me, it’s heralded by a craving for all things pumpkin. The flavor of this seasonal staple (along with its supporting cast of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove) fills me with a longing that’s as powerful as it is prompt, arriving every year with the first frost and lingering through New Year’s.

And it’s not just pumpkin I crave, but One-Pie canned pumpkin purée. It’s New England’s unofficial brand–the same brand used by my mother before me. The flavor is rich and consistent, the texture perfect. And truth be told, I can’t resist the label, which hasn’t changed in at least 50 years and looks even older. When it comes to my pumpkin, I accept no substitute.

But despite my deep attachment, I realized that I knew almost nothing about One-Pie. A glance at the label assured me that it hails from West Paris, Maine. But my preliminary research on the company behind it yielded nothing: no Web site, no advertising, not even a voice on the line. Weeks of calls to headquarters led only to unreturned messages. Was our beloved brand a chimera?

Finally … an actual person in West Paris, who picked up the phone and led me to Jim Sheridan, a former account manager for Johnson O’Hare, a regional food broker based in Billerica, Massachusetts. Jim is now mostly retired, but he handled the One-Pie account for 10 years, and he understands our loyalty. In fact, that loyalty is now reaching beyond New England. When one supermarket chain carrying the brand expanded into upstate New York, Sheridan says a rival market “had to start carrying it as well to compete.”

One-Pie’s history is rooted in Maine’s 19th- and early-20th-century food-products boom, when the state was home to well over 100 canneries. Maine, with its teeming waters and cool climate, shipped and sold sardines, sweet corn, beans, apples, and, yes, pumpkin. One-Pie canned pumpkin (the company also offers canned squash) officially got its start at the Medomak Canning Co. in Winslows Mills, a village within the town of Waldoboro.

Alas, most of those canneries are now gone, and though One-Pie is still distributed from West Paris, Maine, it’s made in Illinois. Still, it holds a special place here in New England, where taste and tradition mingle, and a great-looking label doesn’t hurt, either.

The following recipes make the most of this prized New England staple. One–a family recipe from Yankee lifestyle editor Amy Traverso–transforms traditional pumpkin-pie filling into a fluffy custard, its texture somewhere between pudding and soufflé. The second is another twist on a familiar favorite: pumpkin streusel bar cookies, with a creamy pumpkin center and crumbly top. Happy Holidays!

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11 Responses to One-Pie Canned Pumpkin Purée | History and Recipes

  1. Tom Lyman April 16, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

    We like your pumpkin pie mix but found two cans with very fine grit in it. It was too fine to identify the material. The cans are: k1ef191a 1543 6130. Question: is it glass? Can we eat the pie containing it? Thanks.

    • Aimee Seavey April 16, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

      Hi Tom. We suggest you contact One-Pie directly about the issue with your can, and in the meantime, if it looks suspicious, don’t eat it!

  2. Meredith Larson October 2, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    I’ve used One Pie for years and just opened a can with moldy contents. The can was intact, no bumps or dings. I tried to find contact information for the company but was unable to find anything. Suggestions?

    • Aimee Seavey October 2, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

      Hi Meredith. Bummer! As the article implies, there’s not much of an operation behind One Pie anymore! I’d suggest writing to the address on the can, since that’s the only contact info they provide.

  3. Joyce November 26, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    Hi, I was brought up in NH and miss the pumpkin pie recipe from the back of the One-Pie pumpkin. Would love to make it for Thanksgiving rather than the one with the evaporated milk. Does anyone have the recipe?

  4. Gail November 29, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    Sorry that this is too late for this year’s Thanksgiving, but here is the pumpkin pie recipe from a One-Pie can, with my personal adaptations notesd. I’ve been using Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin w/ great success.

    1 16 oz can pumpkin 1 1/2 cups milk (or 1 12-oz can evaporated milk) (I use 1% milk & it works fine)
    1 Tablespoon Cornstarch 1 cup sugar
    1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon 2 tablespoons Dark Karo Syrup (original recipe calls for Molasses)
    1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg 2 Eggs (beaten)
    1/2 teaspoon Salt (Scant) 1 1/2 tablespoons Butter or Margarine (melted)

    Mix all of the above ingredients thoroughly except the eggs, so the melted butter is cooled. Then add the eggs. I use a wire whisk. Pour into a 10-inch high-sided glass pie pan lined with an uncooked flour & shortening crust. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and bake at the 450 temperature for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 50 minutes.

    • Gail December 23, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

      I just noticed that, in the recipe above, I forgot to include 1/2 teaspoon ginger.

  5. Brenda Laughton December 12, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    Where can I purchase One Pie pumpkin puree? I have looked all around for a can but alas am not able to find one. I live in Brunswick,Maine. Please, I miss this product

    • Aimee Seavey December 15, 2014 at 9:38 am #

      Hi Brenda. As the story indicates, One-Pie can be a difficult brand to track down! If you can’t find it in any of your local grocery stores, websites like Famous Foods offer it for sale online. Good luck!

  6. Carol Tomaselli December 14, 2014 at 7:12 pm #

    Wow. I’ve used their products for years. But today, the squash didn’t quite smell right out of the can, but I baked the pie anyway. It ended up tastin sour almost like there was lemon in it. One small test slice and the rest had to go to compost. Disappointing.

  7. Carol Tomaselli December 14, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

    I still have the can if they want the “batch” number

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