With all the savory food adorning the American Thanksgiving table, it can be difficult for some to save room for dessert, but for many it is the highlight of the meal — and it is usually pie.

Pie has a storied history and is thought to have originated in Egypt around 9500 BCE. In many cultures, the grain or pastry coating was used for cooking meat and vegetables to seal in the juices and help preserve the food. Before long, the technique was also used for preserving fruits, such as apples and cherries.

Native Americans introduced European settlers to new fruits and berries, such as pumpkins and blueberries, for their pie recipes, and African Americans are believed to have created sweet potato pie.

In Colonial America, pie was served at nearly every meal, and community gatherings such as county fairs and picnics often featured pie baking contests. Along with family recipes handed down through several generations, American pies are also continually being adapted to changing conditions and ingredients. Since the advent of refrigeration in the 1890s, many Americans have eaten their pie à la mode — that is, with a scoop of ice cream.