Since opening in 2008, Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar has been synonymous with the Crack Pie, a gooey, buttery dessert that earned its name because its disciples kept coming back for more. “For the uninitiated,” Milk Bar describes, “the texture is denser than the inside of a pecan pie minus the pecans combining elements of a Chess pie, with a whole new flavor that’s hard to describe and harder to stop eating.”
The Crack Pie quickly gained high-profile fans including Anderson Cooper, who talked about how much he loved it in a 2010 appearance on Regis & Kelly. At a dinner at the Reagan Library, Cooper said, “They presented me with a Crack Pie, and I felt a little weird accepting ‘crack’ in front of Nancy Reagan.” The caption on a 2011 video of Tosi making the pie reads, “Are you addicted? Do you need treatment or an intervention? This video will not help.” The jokes were easy and obvious, just like the appeal of the pie’s mixture of sugar, butter, flour, and oats.
Starting today, however, Milk Bar has announced that Crack Pie will now be known as Milk Bar Pie. “Why Milk Bar Pie? It’s simple, so we’ve decided to keep it simple. It’s been on the Milk Bar menu since day one. And, the old name was getting in the way of letting the gooey, buttery slice bring happiness—my only goal in creating the thing in the first place,” Tosi wrote in a statement. “While change is never easy, we feel this is the right decision.”
Crack Pie—and the swath of desserts and snacks that similarly rely on the language of addiction—has also drawn criticism for years for its name. Late last year, a viral tweet about “Crack Cookies” made by a company called Legally Addicted Foods brought new attention to the popularity of snack foods named for the drug. As MUNCHIES has previously written, the use of “crack” as a euphemism turns the people and communities affected by America’s crack epidemic into a cute punchline for those that might not be facing the harrowing effects of widespread addiction.
Other publications have since shared similar op-eds. “It’s Time to Stop Calling Foods ‘Crack,’” wrote Grub Street’s Chris Crowley shortly after, and last month, The Boston Globe’s Devra First wrote a piece titled “There’s Nothing Cute About Crack Pie.”
Milk Bar isn’t the first to give up its crack-named snack: In December, the Michigan gastropub chain Hopcat renamed its Crack Fries as “Cosmik Fries” following pushback. Milk Bar is, however, perhaps the most well-known brand to do so. For some, that piece of pie might go down easier with the new name—and they just might have another slice.