Of all the parties to crash, crashing a funeral doesn't rank high on the list of events to attend without an invitation.

However, in the late 1800s, a funeral was an excellent event to snag a free meal, and often, fake mourners would gather for the funerary feast.

"It was so common that you didn't even raise an eyebrow," William Woys Weaver, culinary historian and author of As American As Shoofly Pie: The Foodlore and Fakelore of Pennsylvania Dutch Cuisine, told Atlas Obscura

While potatoes and an array of casseroles are still staples, hungry eyes once zeroed in on the popular "funeral pie."

What Is Funeral Pie?

The pie was once served at funerals as an edible euphemism for death itself. Still, the sweet raisin pie quickly became a Pennsylvania Dutch favorite.

Made by combining a flaky, lard-based crust with a subtly sweet, inky-black filling of raisins, sugar, lemon, egg and flour, funeral pie was an easy treat for Dutch families because it didn't require refrigeration or to be reheated.

While a relatively convenient option, making funeral pie was also considered "an absolute labor of love," Nancy Schmeichel told Atlas Obscura.

As younger generations no longer want the pie to be associated with death, the raisin pie has seemingly disappeared from funeral tables. Still, funeral pie is said to be a deliciously sweet and comforting treat.

How to Make Funeral Pie:

Here's how to make funeral pie according to Atlas Obscura's favorite recipe, adapted from Julie Falsetti in the York Dispatch:

• Store-bought or homemade pie dough, enough for a 9-inch, double-crust pie
• 4 cups raisins
• 4 cups water
• 1 cup packed brown sugar
• 4 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest


1. Soak the raisins in the water for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 425° F (220° C). Pour the raisins and water into a large saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook for about five minutes.
3. In a medium bowl, mix the brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt. Add the mixture to the saucepan with the raisins. Cook over medium heat and stir until the mixture has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat, and stir in the lemon juice, zest, and butter. Set aside to cool.
5. Line a 9-inch pie pan with one sheet of the prepared pastry, and pour the cooled filling inside.
6. With a sharp knife, slice the other sheet of pastry into strips, about an inch in width. Carefully lace the strips together into a lattice, and lay atop the pie, pinching the edges of the crust together and discarding any overhang.
7. Set pie on a cookie sheet, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

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