Crack Pie, one of the core recipes that rocketed Milk Bar to massive popularity, is getting a new name after increasing pressure from customers and the national food community. Going forward, the pie will be known as a Milk Bar Pie.
Founder and pastry chef Christina Tosi confirmed the change to the trademarked name in a message posted to Milk Bar’s public blog. In the letter addressed both to consumers and employees, Tosi writes that “the old name was getting in the way” of the bakery’s core mission “to spread joy and inspire celebration” — essentially making people feel unwelcome. “While change is never easy, we feel this is the right decision,” she writes. Milk Bar plans to begin implementing the transition including updating menus to reflect the new name over “the next few weeks and months.”
The news comes as Milk Bar has faced increasing criticism for its use of the Crack Pie name, which references the addictive quality of crack cocaine. Just last month, the Boston Globe published a piece by critic Devra First outlining the problem with using the term “crack” as a description for one of Milk Bar’s core items. That story followed a February piece by the San Francisco Chronicle’s new critic Soleil Ho, who’s pledged to not use the term “crack” or “addictive” to describe food; in her written announcement, Ho directly referenced Milk Bar’s famous pie. Another piece at Slate going back as far as 2013 also makes reference to Tosi’s pie and her questionable use of the term “crack.”
As many are increasingly pointing out, the use of the term “crack” is particularly hurtful to black communities where the crack epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s had a disproportionately devastating impact. Individuals who were caught in possession of crack cocaine generally received harsher sentences resulting in higher rates of incarceration compared to individuals in possession of powdered cocaine, though the drugs had the same effects on the body. As Ho writes, “No matter how delicious something might be, its effect on me is nothing close to what crack does to people and their families.”
Milk Bar isn’t alone in distancing itself from the term. In December, after 11 years of calling its seasoned fries “Crack Fries,” Michigan-based beer bar chain HopCat announced it would change the name of the item after years of criticism by customers. The company’s CEO stated in a letter that the founders came up with the name “without consideration for those the drug negatively affected,” and, ultimately, “were wrong.” They’re now called Cosmik Fries.
• A Note on Milk Bar Pie [Official]
• Milk Bar Will Rename Its ‘Crack Pie’ [Grub Street]
• There’s Nothing Cute About Crack Pie [Boston Globe]
• Words you’ll never see me use in restaurant reviews [SF Chron]
• No, Your Favorite Food Is Not Like Crack [Slate]