With a diameter of 97 inches and an estimated weight of 1,000 pounds, it’s almost certainly the world’s biggest Key lime pie. At least that’s what its creators hope after preparing and serving the gigantic dessert to hundreds of people celebrating Independence Day in Key West.
In fact, they had their creation — a gargantuan version of the Florida Keys’ signature dessert — measured and documented for submission to the Guinness Book of World Records.
“We just had our attorney measure it and it came in at over 8 feet in diameter, so that’s certified for a world record,” said David Sloan, who spearheaded the giant pie’s “construction” as the centerpiece of the Key Lime Festival he co-founded.
For David and his three fellow pie-makers — chef and award-winning kiteboarder Paul Menta, Key Lime Festival co-founder Marky Pierson, and Key West Key Lime Pie Co. owner Jim Brush — the construction effort was as big as the pie itself.
The first hurdle was selecting the perfect pan to contain the giant pastry. According to the enterprising quartet’s calculations, it needed to be about the size of a pickup truck.
“You don’t just go to the store and find an 8-foot pie pan,” advised David.
Eventually, Marky and a Key West cohort combined their talents to build the perfect super-sized pan.
“From there on, we’ve got some guys who are really good with food, so taking an existing recipe that was proven and making it big enough to feed 1,000 people was pretty easy stuff,” David said.
Only a team like the four pie-makers could have considered it easy. The mammoth pie’s ingredients included the juice of 5,760 tiny yellow Key limes, 200 pounds of graham crackers and 55 gallons of sweetened condensed milk (according to David Sloan, that’s enough condensed milk to fill 880 margarita glasses).
In the kitchen of the Key West Key Lime Pie Co., the pie’s filling was “cooked” by the traditional souring method until it was creamy and slightly tart.
About 1 p.m. July 4, after it was thickened and chilled, the four chefs and their assistants began transporting the filling outside to the pie pan, which stood waiting in the middle of Greene Street surrounded by eager spectators.
The filling was smoothed into the crust with oversized “utensils” — ranging from shovels and hoes to a paddle that kiteboarder Paul Menta brought along just in case it was needed.
After its debut, slices of the massive Key lime pie were sold to benefit the historic Key West Firehouse Museum — a fitting July 4 treat for the crowds gathered to watch the giant pie’s construction.
“People like to say nothing’s more American than apple pie, but down here in the Florida Keys, we like to say nothing’s as Keysey as Key lime pie on the Fourth of July,” David said.
Actually, Key lime pie most likely originated in Key West in the late 1800s — and it was designated Florida’s official pie in 2006 by the state legislature. While preparation methods and even some ingredients vary, few people visit the Keys without sampling at least one slice.
Speaking of ingredients, David Sloan authored “The Ultimate Key Lime Pie Cookbook,” featuring scores of variations on the delectable dessert — including some that incorporate crazy-sounding ingredients like bacon and hot peppers.
He’s also a repeat competitor in the professional division of the National Pie Championships. But of all the pies he’s made, he’s proudest of the one “built” with three buddies in Key West on the Fourth of July.
As hundreds of kids and adults savored slices of the 8-foot creation, he stood surveying the scene.
“Key West has just broken the world record for the largest Key lime pie!” David Sloan hollered. Then, with magnificent understatement, he added, “It’s big.”