National Pie Day vs. National Pi Day: What’s the difference between the two holidays?

2 Pies 2 Furious?
Cherry Pie A la Mode
Cherry Pie A la Mode / Found Image Holdings Inc/GettyImages

Today, January 23, 2024, is National Pie Day! Which might leave you a bit confused if you thought the celebration of all things pie usually happens a few months from now on March 14.

Good news, you’re not crazy. Today is National Pie Day. But March 14, 2024 is National Pi Day. Both are about celebrating pie, but each has a different, weird origin. And regardless, both are great for the excuse to eat a whole lot of pie, so we’ll break down some of the National Pie Day deals you can snag today at the end of this article.

But first, let’s break down the two days, and where they come from.

The Origin Of National Pie Day

The origin of National Pie Day, which is celebrated yearly on January 23, is a little bit bizarre and random. It began because of a man named Charlie Papazian, a teacher in Boulder, Colorado. In 1975, he declared the day National Pie Day. Why this day? Because January 23 is Papazian’s birthday, and he likes pie. That’s pretty much the whole thing.

Not to detour too much into Papazian, but at the time he was an elementary school teacher, but he started out as a nuclear engineer. And after his teaching days, in 1979 he founded the Association of Brewers, and became a renowned advocate of home brewing and lauded maker of beer. Interesting guy!

Back to National Pie Day. It became an official holiday in 1986 when it was adopted by the American Pie Council. And perhaps the most confusing detail here, in 2014 the National Pie Council partnered with Paramount Pictures to make Labor Day the official movie of National Pie Day, despite it being released a year earlier, it’s a romantic thriller, and the title is, uh, an entirely different holiday.

Anyway, you can celebrate National Pie Day by eating a pie, baking a pie, and/or watching the Kate Winslet/Josh Brolin thriller Labor Day, because why not.

Kate Winslet, Jason Reitman, Josh Brolin
"Labor Day" - Mayfair Gala European Premiere - Red Carpet Arrivals: 57th BFI London Film Festival / Gareth Cattermole/GettyImages

The Origin Of National Pi Day

The far more famous Pi Day is, per its name, not actually about pie – but almost immediately became about pie. It was started a good decade-plus after Papazian’s holiday by an American physicist named Larry Shaw, working out of San Francisco’s Exploratorium. What is it with these science types and pie holidays? Pretty weird!

Anyway, it was supposed to be a goofy day to celebrate the mathematical constant Pi, and was set as March 14 because the first three digits of Pi are 3.14. You get it. The first Pi Day involved Shaw and fellow Exploratorium employees marching around the building and then eating fruit pies. Since then, Pi Day has been officially recognized by the House of Representatives, and UNESCO expanded the purview of the day to make it the International Day of Mathematics. Which perhaps of note to this website is different from the International House of Pancakes.

In any case, Pi Day is a celebration of math, but it’s also very much a celebration of pie, and is treated as such.

National Pie Day Deals: Where to get some cheap pie today

One of the tricky things about pie is it’s more of a local thing than a chain thing. For example, in New York City the wildly popular Four and Twenty Blackbirds is offering $10 off online orders with the code PIEDAY, or $4 slices and $5 off whole pies in-store. They tend to clear out pretty quickly, but if you manage to snag one a Salty Honey pie will change your life.

Chains-wise, Shoney’s is offering a free slice of Strawberry Pie with the purchase of an entree or the All You Care To Eat Fresh Food Bar, according to USA Today. Fun fact about that: basically any time there’s a holiday, Shoney’s offers a free slice of Strawberry Pie with the same sort of deal. Why do they want to get rid of their Strawberry Pie so badly? What do they know, and when did they know it??

Meanwhile, Burger King is offering a free Hershey Pie for loyalty rewards customers, as long as you place an order of $1 or more through the app or online.

There may be more deals announced today through your local joint, or fave chain restaurant. Or you can wait the two months, and almost assuredly there will be even more pie deals when March 14, 2024’s Pi Day rolls around. Hey, you can never have too much pie!