My buddy Alan and I have seen the world’s biggest pie plate and it was a big yawn. Perhaps it’s communications dish fatigue, but seeing a large metal disc angled toward the sky is none too interesting. Inasmuch as I share the cultural fetish for superlatives afflicting many of us, I expected to be more excited, maybe awed. Who doesn’t want to see the largest, longest, fastest, and most powerful? But sometimes a dull object grown grandiose is . . . well . . . just dull on a grander scale.
The ginormous platter lies just south of Traverse City, Michigan, on a main road not far from a golf course and shopping malls. It leans against a dull, green background of pines on the broad lawn of the Sara Lee Bakery. An outsized and worn certificate framed in brick proclaims its number one standing in the Guinness Book of Records. It was such a goofy let down, that Alan couldn’t help a pseudo-majestic gesture for the camera.
In 1987, the pan held the world’s largest cherry pie. It was seventeen feet, six inches in diameter and weighed 28,350 pounds. The pie record was later surpassed by Oliver, British Columbia. However, the Canadian town didn’t bother to preserve the baking tin, leaving the Michigan city with the largest pie plate.
With Traverse City as the self-proclaimed “Cherry Capital” hosting the National Cherry Festival featuring pit spitting, pie eating, a parade and cherry queen, the presence of the dish can be said to bear some relationship to its location. Still, the metal platter left me cold, providing a longing reminder of what’s not there—the pie. Rather than paying homage to this humongous metal saucer, summer visitors would be better advised to stop at one of the many little roadside stands perched at the edge of hillside orchards and pick up a bag of cherries. No matter how small, they provide the best taste of this place.