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11 Can’t-Miss American Pie Shops

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Whether you like your pie sweet or savory, deep-dish or portable, there’s a plate out there with your name on it.

1. THREE BROTHERS BAKERY // HOUSTON, TEXAS

For those days when one pie is not nearly enough, try Three Brothers' legendary Pumpecapple Piecake, also known as the turducken of pies: a 24-pound, three-tiered cake consisting of pumpkin pie inside a pumpkin spice cake, pecan pie in chocolate cake, and apple pie in apple spice cake, smothered in cream cheese frosting. Hey. This is Texas. Go big or go home.

2. PIE LAB BAKERY // KENT, WASHINGTON

Cooking may be an art, but baking is a science, and Susan Fergason knows it. The former biologist and science teacher now brings her curiosity and precision to mouth-watering pies like bourbon peach, fireball apple, and lemon sour cream. The bakery has also established itself as a community hub, offering baking classes, hosting music events, and supporting science education.

3. MAGPIE ARTISAN PIES // PHILADELPHIA

It’s hard to improve upon perfection (pie-fection?) but the folks at Magpie may just have done it. The bakery’s menu offers its famous not-too-sweet pie in multiple formats, including pie fries, pie shakes, and, of course, regular pie, in seasonal flavors like butterscotch bourbon or Mexican hot chocolate. And not only does Magpie satisfy all your dessert needs, they have dine-in savories like beef stew pot pie or a mac and cheese pot pie.

4. MISSION PIE // SAN FRANCISCO

Are you vegan and sick of missing all the pie fun? Head over to Mission Pie in San Francisco, which boasts a rotating menu featuring the best in seasonal ingredients and delightful vegan options, such as vegan pear raspberry and vegan apple blackberry.

5. ARBUCKLE MOUNTAIN FRIED PIES // DAVIS, OKLAHOMA

You wouldn’t think a deep-fried pie could ever be light, but baker Nancy Fulton of Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies has managed it. Each pie takes only three minutes to make and can be filled with your choice of sweet and savory flavors like pizza, sausage and egg, cherry, and the customer favorite: apricot. You can even call ahead with an order so your pies will be hot and waiting when you arrive.

6. THE CHERRY HUT // BEULAH, MICHIGAN

Want a slice of apple, pumpkin, or blueberry pie? Go somewhere else. Michigan’s legendary Cherry Hut will sell you any kind of pie product you like—as long as you like cherry. Its signature dish has been featured in The New York Times and Gourmet magazine. Can’t make it into the shop? Check out the online store for jams, dried cherries, and more.

7. FOUR AND TWENTY BLACKBIRDS // BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

Take your pie experience to the next level at Four and Twenty Blackbirds. Bakers and sisters Melissa and Emily Elsen opened their Brooklyn bakery in 2010. By 2011, Time Out New York had named them Artisans of the Year for their sophisticated gourmet pies and treats. Flavors like strawberry balsamic and chamomile buttermilk keep dedicated customers coming back for just one more taste.

8. THE ELEGANT FARMER // MUKWONAGO, WISCONSIN

It’s official: The best apple pie in America is made in Mukwonago, Wisconsin. Gourmet magazine, the Food Network, and The Wall Street Journal have all raved about the Elegant Farmer’s sweet, gooey pies. The house specialty is an apple pie baked in a paper bag, which, the proprietors say, keeps the sugar cookie crust both firm and crisp.

9. HOOSIER MAMA PIE COMPANY // CHICAGO

Even chefs line up at Chicago’s Hoosier Mama for a taste of piemaker Paula Haney’s artisanal creations. Beat the Illinois winter blues with a slice of Haney’s key lime pie with a crunchy gingersnap crust, or one of her various chess pies.

10. DANGEROUSLY DELICIOUS PIES // BALTIMORE, MARYLAND

Dangerous is the key word here. This famous Baltimore pie shop now offers local delivery, including of its signature Baltimore Bomb, made from layers of regional chocolate Berger cookies and vanilla custard. And for a rock 'n' roll-themed bite, try the peanut butter, bacon, bananas, and chocolate-covered Elvis pie.

11. ACHATZ HANDMADE PIE COMPANY // CHESTERFIELD, MICHIGAN

You can’t get much fresher pie than at the Achatz Handmade Pie Company, which installed itself in a 10-acre orchard for access to the ripest, freshest fruits. Try the Michigan four-berry pie with raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and cherries—only one of which is technically a berry (the blueberry), but when it tastes this good, we’ll let it slide.

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Doc_Brown, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Cropped.
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This Just In
The Honey Smacks In Your Pantry May Be Contaminated With Salmonella
Doc_Brown, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Cropped.
Doc_Brown, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Cropped.

Salmonella, a bacterial food-borne illness often associated with raw eggs and undercooked chicken, has been linked recently to a popular children's cereal. According to Snopes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging consumers to avoid Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, citing the brand as the likely cause of the Salmonella outbreak spreading across the U.S.

Since early March, 73 people in 31 states have contracted the virus. Salmonella clears up in most people on its own, but in some cases it can lead to hospitalization or even death. Twenty-four victims have been admitted to hospitals so far, with no reported deaths. Of the 39 patients who were questioned, 30 of them remembered eating cold cereal and 14 of them specifically cited Honey Smacks.

In response to the outbreak, the Kellogg Company has recalled its 15.3-ounce and 23-ounce boxes of Honey Smacks printed with any "best if used by" date between June 14, 2018 and June 14, 2019 (recalled boxes are labeled on the bottom with the UPC codes 3800039103 or 3800014810). The CDC recommends that you take even greater precautions by throwing out or returning any Honey Smacks you have at home, regardless of package size, "best by" date, or whether your family has eaten from the box previously without getting sick.

Symptoms of Salmonella include diarrhea, fever, headache, and abdominal pain, and usually appear 12 hours to three days after the contaminated food is ingested. If you or someone in your household is showing signs of the infection, ask a doctor about how to best treat it.

[h/t Snopes]

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Big Questions
Why Does Asparagus Make Your Pee Smell Funny?
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The asparagus has a long and storied history. It was mentioned in the myths and the scholarly writings of ancient Greece, and its cultivation was the subject of a detailed lesson in Cato the Elder's treatise, On Agriculture. But it wasn't until the turn of the 18th century that discussion of the link between asparagus and odorous urine emerged. In 1731, John Arbuthnot, physician to Queen Anne, noted in a book about food that asparagus "affects the urine with a foetid smell ... and therefore have been suspected by some physicians as not friendly to the kidneys." Benjamin Franklin also noticed that eating asparagus "shall give our urine a disagreeable odor."

Since then, there has been debate over what is responsible for the stinky pee phenomenon. Polish chemist and doctor Marceli Nencki identified a compound called methanethiol as the cause in 1891, after a study that involved four men eating about three and a half pounds of asparagus apiece. In 1975, Robert H. White, a chemist at the University of California at San Diego, used gas chromatography to pin down several compounds known as S-methyl thioesters as the culprits. Other researchers have blamed various "sulfur-containing compounds" and, simply, "metabolites."

More recently, a study demonstrated that asparagusic acid taken orally by subjects known to produce stinky asparagus pee produced odorous urine, which contained the same volatile compounds found in their asparagus-induced odorous urine. Other subjects, who normally didn't experience asparagus-induced odorous urine, likewise were spared stinky pee after taking asparagusic acid.

The researchers concluded that asparagusic acid and its derivatives are the precursors of urinary odor (compared, in different scientific papers, to the smell of "rotten cabbage," "boiling cabbage" and "vegetable soup"). The various compounds that contribute to the distinct smell—and were sometimes blamed as the sole cause in the past—are metabolized from asparagusic acid.

Exactly how these compounds are produced as we digest asparagus remains unclear, so let's turn to an equally compelling, but more answerable question:

WHY DOESN'T ASPARAGUS MAKE YOUR PEE SMELL FUNNY?

Remember when I said that some people don't produce stinky asparagus pee? Several studies have shown that only some of us experience stinky pee (ranging from 20 to 40 percent of the subjects taking part in the study, depending on which paper you read), while the majority have never had the pleasure.

For a while, the world was divided into those whose pee stank after eating asparagus and those whose didn't. Then in 1980, a study complicated matters: Subjects whose pee stank sniffed the urine of subjects whose pee didn't. Guess what? The pee stank. It turns out we're not only divided by the ability to produce odorous asparagus pee, but the ability to smell it.

An anosmia—an inability to perceive a smell—keeps certain people from smelling the compounds that make up even the most offensive asparagus pee, and like the stinky pee non-producers, they're in the majority.

Producing and perceiving asparagus pee don't go hand-in-hand, either. The 1980 study found that some people who don't produce stinky pee could detect the rotten cabbage smell in another person's urine. On the flip side, some stink producers aren't able to pick up the scent in their own urine or the urine of others.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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