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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Pie Eaters: 1921

Pie Eaters: 1921

July 31, 1921. Washington, D.C. "Pie eating contest at Tidal Basin bathing beach." In the back row: the blurry but unmistakable facial contours of Iola Swinnerton. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

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Not pizza

Hard to tell

where the smudges end and the pie filling begins

Simple happiness

Reading the comments by reader who mourn the loss of simpler pleasures with simpler times makes me wonder how long those times actually lasted. How long have pie-eating contests taken place? Pies have existed for centuries. There are notes of pie-eating contests occurring at county fairs in the 19th Century. Were they an imported idea from fairs in the Old Country?

Our pleasures have changed as technology has changed, The advent of electricity in homes certainly has changed the sorts of activities that we engage in for pleasure. I, for one, would make the trade of perusing Shorpy at my desk in an air-conditioned room in my home on a 100-degree late Spring day to participating in a pie-eating contests on a similar June day 90 years ago. Not that the pies don't look delicious.

Krazy Kat

This was apparently taken the same time as this one because Iola is holding Krazy Kat. I think the girl on her left is the one sitting to her right in that picture, too.

[This picture is dated July 31; the other is dated June 25. - Dave]

Aside from that, this is one amazing photo of a wonderful day and a time when people knew how to take joy in simple things. The expression on the middle girl eating pie is priceless! I would bet that crust was made with lard, which is the best kind.

P.S. I didn't notice the date, except for the year. Now, I wonder why she was carrying a stuffed toy to the beach, twice (or more, probably). Interesting! At any rate, they sure had a lot of fun at the Potomac bathing beach!

I'm rather infatuated

with the three women in the center: the splendid coif of the lady on the left, the laugh of the woman in the middle, and the delicate fingers balancing pie on the woman on the right. Also, how could anyone find the thin fuzz, barely visible, on that woman's legs disgusting? If certain modern men knew the time us modern women felt obligated to spend on our grooming, they might be more sympathetic and less hazppy.

Who Won??

Do educated guesses count? I'm thinking the winner was the woman with pie smeared all over her face. The other ladies are eating their pie rather daintily.

Sheer enjoyment and delight

Quite apart from the fact that there are several beautiful girls in this picture, it is a joy for several other reasons.

One cannot help but wonder whether the contestants ever considered whether their children and their children's children would be able to enjoy themselves in such simple and unaffected manner. In many ways, how lucky they were to live at a time when life was very much more simple, the war was behind them, everything appeared rosy, and the future was their own. There are times I would happily trade this supposedly civilised and advanced age for theirs.

As for the identity of the victor; I imagine the young boy felt very much a winner here! How lucky; a clutch of beautiful girls, and as much pie as he could eat.

Hazppy to be a Modern Man

The girl in the front / left has hairy legs. Once again, Shorpy has made me appreciate living in twenty first century North America. I wonder what people of the future will be disgusted by when they look at our photos?

[I wonder what people of the future will think will they look at these comments. - Dave]

Who won?

No prizes for guessing!

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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