HASTINGS, NE—Citizens across the nation were shocked and dismayed Thursday when a pie, originally intended to be a delectable, mouthwatering treat, somehow emerged from the oven in less-than-ideal condition.
The disappointing dessert—a cranberry-apple pie baked by Hastings woman Cathy Stanger—was described by those who tried it as gooey and saccharine, with a slightly bitter aftertaste, and has left a baffled nation struggling to understand how a pie that should have been so delicious could go so wrong.
"It…it just doesn't make any sense," Phoenix construction worker Dale Wallace said. "The crust was brown. Not a light golden brown, but dark brown. Almost black. There was no tartness in the filling, and the bottom was mushy. It wasn't flaky or succulent, either. How could this have happened?"
In a desperate search for answers, some Americans have directly called into question Stanger's methods in preparing the lackluster baked good.
Specific criticisms include Stanger's choice of fruits, with many saying that perhaps a Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apple should have been used instead of Honeycrisp. Other detractors have suggested that Stanger should never have strayed from pumpkin, which is generally acknowledged to be her signature pie.
"She probably didn't follow all the directions," Orlando, FL resident Vivian Werner said. "Sometimes, you just miss a step somewhere along the way or figure you can wing it. Obviously, mistakes were made, and now the whole nation is paying the price."
"You know what, I bet she overcooked it," Werner continued. "People always leave pies in too long. I have no idea why."
A Rasmussen poll found that 37 percent of Americans surveyed thought that Stanger had probably added too much salt to the crust, 24 percent believed that maybe she used an off-brand of cornstarch in the pie filling, 16 percent speculated that her oven might have some hot spots, and 7 percent felt that the pie was probably not that bad if you popped it in the microwave with a little scoop of ice cream on top.
Official reaction to the pie has been swift and decisive. Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY) took to the floor of the House to denounce the pie as unappealing within hours of its removal from the oven. Later that afternoon, the Senate convened a special investigative panel to determine what went wrong with the pie, and plans to release its report in June of next year.
In the meantime, President Barack Obama attempted to soothe the nation in his weekly video address.
"My fellow Americans, we are all discouraged by the outcome of the pie in Hastings," Obama said. "It was meant to feed six people, with leftovers for lunch the next day. But what's important now is that we have our best minds working on the Hastings pie, studying it, analyzing it. Making sure that something like this never happens again. Rest assured, there will be more pies."
"And in a personal message to Cathy Stanger: Did you remember to cover the edge of the crust with foil?" Obama continued. "You should try that next time. It keeps the crust from burning."