picture of cherry pie on table

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Trump’s turning cherry pie into trash on his way out the door

A new proposed rule sparks internet controversy.


David Covucci


Posted on Dec 17, 2020   Updated on Dec 17, 2020, 2:22 pm CST


As President Donald Trump is set to depart the White House, everyone is so focused on the tremendous damage he may do on the way out—pardoning war criminals, purging government agencies, demolishing democracy—that some of the more minor, nefarious acts can get lost in the mix.

Like letting the pies be bad. Frozen cherry pies to be precise.

This morning, Trump’s former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chief Scott Gottlieb boasted of a proposed regulation to roll back regulations on frozen pies, so that the fillings could be able to contain more sugar, and the buttery crusts could be thicker.

He’s not being straightforward about this pie rule on Twitter though.

“BREAKING. NEW PROPOSED RULE: Thanks to the hard work of my FDA team in 2018, the Federal government will no longer be regulating the contents of frozen cherry pie. The American people are free [to] add extra fruit, sugar, and make the crust especially thick,” Gottlieb wrote.

A proposed rule means that the public has the ability to make comments on it before the agency puts it to final approval, but in all likelihood, this rollback on restrictions will pass without pushback. But it shouldn’t. Because Gottlieb’s tweet is willfully misleading about what this does.

According to the rule, only frozen cherry pies are subject to intense regulation. Other pies don’t have the same rules on weight and artificial sweeteners, so this will level the pie playing field so to speak. But what that means is right now frozen cherry pies are required to be of a higher quality because of the standards. If this passes, pie corporations are free to give you worse pies.

This will open up frozen cherry pies to the use of artificial sweeteners and would allow manufacturers to put poor-quality cherries in your pies (amending the rules about what percent can be blemished cherries per the U.S. Standards for Grades of Frozen Red Tart Pitted Cherries). It aims to revoke a standard that says no more than 15% of cherries can be blemished.

It also amends what amount of weight the cherries can be per pie, meaning manufacturers load up on cheaper ingredients and fillings. The rule says the market, not the government, should decide what’s in a cherry pie, and that quality frozen cherry pies will still exist. But we all know what that means. Companies will cut quality across the board, serving us crappier cherry pies.

Gottlieb’s boast about making crusts thicker and pies sweeter is just obfuscation about the true aim of the rule, letting cherry pie companies get a buck more out of a frozen pie at the pie eater’s expense.

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*First Published: Dec 17, 2020, 11:00 am CST