Thanks Marie Callender

Miss Manners dictates politely taking a couple bites of any food offered. It’s a great rule for holiday meals. The children who came over for Sunday dinner knew that rule. Their mom had emphasized, “no matter what the food is like, just eat and don’t say anything.”

The children tried to adhere to the rule. My cooking failures in triplicate that day sabotaged their determination to adhere to the rule. The potatoes did not cook long enough to mash and I served the gravy saying, “one lump or two?” Laughing in the face of my failures, we spent the rest of the meal laughing about imperfect food.

That is not exactly the way most people presented their Thanksgiving meals on Facebook last week. Most postings focused on golden turkeys, white mounds of potatoes and perfect pies: apple, pecan and of course, pumpkin pie. To ease the burden in the kitchen, grocery stores offer heat-and-eat options for everything from mashed potatoes to turkeys as well as the day’s featured dessert: pumpkin pie. Sharon Weiss chose a heat-and-eat pumpkin pie from Marie Callender.

Sharon turned on her oven and placed the pie inside to warm. Sometime later (no one knows how much later) she pulled out a completely blackened pie. After a quick look at her Facebook page, I quickly realized that Sharon had no problem laughing at life’s mix-ups and failures. She has posted many pictures and comments of her personal foibles. Before sitting down to the meal with a burnt pie, Weiss took a picture of her pumpkin pie’s thick skin of black with a tear exposing the pumpkin filling beneath. She posted her blackened pumpkin pie on Marie Callender’s Company Facebook page saying, “Thanks Marie Callender for ruining Thanksgiving dessert.”

No detailed explanation about the temperature she used or how long it had baked. A Marie Callender representative graciously responded, “Sorry to hear our pumpkin pie let you down this year. We’d like to get in touch with you. …” They probably offered her a coupon for another pie.

The rest of the Internet lacked such grace. It exploded with laughter and mocking remarks:

“Send her a larger version of the back of your box.” (so she can easily read the instructions.)

“How to ruin Thanksgiving in four words: ‘Sharon Weiss bringing dessert.’”

“Marie Callender, why are you sorry? You didn’t cremate your pie. You didn’t set her oven temperature to hell setting.”

“Ma’am, where in the recipe does it say you gotta bake it in the sun.”

One post shows a picture of a hand holding a lit torch over a pumpkin pie and asking, “am I doing this right?”

More than 22,000 folks logged on with humorous remarks before Marie Callender ended the post. Meanwhile, grocery store shelves cleared of Marie’s pumpkin pies. One picture showed the great gap on the shelves where pumpkin pie had sold out.

Observing this phenomena, Edwards Pies, Marie Callender’s direct competitor, wistfully wrote, “Here we are trying to go viral with our brand and it turns out you just need someone to burn one of your no-bake pies.”

The whole event inspired a woman to crochet a round circle of black with a spot of pumpkin orange and the words “thanks Marie Callender.”

Another quick-thinking entrepreneur created a humorous tree ornament: The hockey puck thick disk has “thanks Marie Callender” stamped across the image of a burnt pumpkin pie.

None of the responses would have pleased Miss Manners, but they certainly added a spot of humor and fun.