After trying my hand at my first pie, I decided to make a second pie using a Graham Cracker Pie recipe I have had forever (well, a decade). I can not remember where I copied the recipe from, but it sat patiently waiting in my recipe box for years. I should have let it continue to wait.
This pie is one of those desserts I wanted to make for so long, but then once I did, I was let down by the end result. In the pie’s defense, I think my maturing palette prefers fruit pie to other pies, so the custard-like filling in this pie did little to please my taste buds.
I was a bit surprised by this taste revelation. When I was a little girl, my order at the Kewpee consisted of a cheeseburger and a slice of sugar cream pie. I always ordered a slice pie in place of French Fries. I never very much liked fries when I was a kid, but I grew out of it and love them now. (Side note: Which restaurant has better fries, McDonald’s or Chik-Fil-A?)
For those of you who may not be familiar, the Kewpee is a fast food restaurant chain headquartered in Lima, Ohio. To my surprise, my research for this article revealed the Kewpee East, Kewpee West, and Kewpee Dowtown locations in Lima are not the only Kewpees in the chain. There is also a Kewpee in Lansing, Michigan and another in Racine, Wisconsin.
The Kewpee is legendary, and people love it. Dave Thomas allegedly built his Wendy’s chain off the Kewpee concept, offering square burger patties and a frozen chocolate malt he called the Frosty. I like the Frosty, but it doesn’t hold a candle to a Kewpee malt. My dad said Kewpee Downtown was really cool when he was a kid because you could pull in your car into the narrow lot, someone would be there to take your order, and then a large turntable contraption in the pavement would turn your car around so you could drive, instead of reverse, out of the lot.
My brother-in-law has to have a Kewpee burger nearly every time he and my sister visit my parents. When I dined there with my honey at Christmas last year, he started calling it Kreepy’s because the naked Kewpie doll displayed in the restaurant creeped him out. I recently opened an account at a new bank, and after learning I was from Ohio, the manager (he too was from Ohio) asked me if I had ever heard of the Kewpee. I laughed and said yes, and he launched into a story about how he made it a point to drive through Lima last Christmas so his honey could also experience the Kewpee.
In middle school and high school, we would often get to stop for lunch at the Kewpee after a field trip to Lima for some sort of event. And the volleyball and basketball teams I played on would often stop after a game at least one night of the season. In the fall, the Kewpee ran a promotion where you could purchase a large drink served in a plastic cup that featured your high school’s mascot. Those were my favorite weeks to eat at the Kewpee…until Marchocolate.
When I lived in Ohio, I could not wait for Marchocolate. After a cold, gray winter, the turn of a calendar page to March got your mind to thinking about the spring light at the end of the winter tunnel. Then Kewpee started featuring chocolate pies throughout the month of March, and I was in a tiny slice of heaven. My favorite Marchocolate pie was Cookies and Cream, though I ate my fair share of French Silk pie when the restaurants ran out of Cookies of Cream. Delicious!
Though this graham cracker pie does not live up to any of the pies served at the Kewpee, those of you who like custard and meringue may find it quite nice. And for those of you who might light to read an unbiased traveler’s account of the Kewpee (and see pictures of Kewpee Downtown), check out this article at Midwest Guest. Until next time, enjoy!
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- ½ cup butter, melted
- 1½ cups granulated sugar, divided, plus one additional tablespoon
- 2 cups whole milk
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 eggs, separated with yolks slightly beaten
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Stir together the graham cracker crumbs, butter and one cup of the sugar.
- Reserve ½ cup of the mixture and press the remaining crumbs into a pie plate to form a crust.
- Bake the crust at 400 degrees for approximately five minutes.
- While the crust bakes, pour the milk into a saucepan and heat until boiling.
- Lower the heat to medium and whisk in the remaining ½ cup of sugar and the cornstarch to the saucepan.
- Continue to cook for two minutes.
- Slowly stir a small amount of the milk and sugar mixture, about ⅓ cup, into the egg yolks, and then add the milk and egg mixture back to the saucepan.
- Stir until the custard thickens, about one to two minutes.
- Remove the custard from heat and allow to cool.
- While the custard cools, beat the egg whites with one tablespoon of sugar until stiff peaks form.
- Stir the vanilla into the cooled custard and pour into the crust.
- Spread the egg white mixture over the custard.
- Sprinkle the top of the pie with the remaining graham crackers.
- Place the pie in the oven for just two minutes or until the graham crackers turn a darker shade of brown.
- Remove the pie from the oven and allow to come to room temperature.
- Once the pie has returned to room temperature, chill for four hours before serving.