So far, history dates the Cornish Pasty as far back as the 13th century. The Cornish Pasty can be traced back to the time of King Henry the III, when he discovered the culinary delicacy during his travels around the UK. Over time, the Cornish Pasty became the main diet of the Cornish tin miners, blacksmiths and engineers.
However, according to other tales, the local fishermen considered the pasty to be bad luck. There are several local Cornish superstitions in circulation suggesting that the pasty was responsible for keeping “the devil out of Cornwall”, the devil would never cross into Cornwall for fear of being baked into a pasty.
Some tin mines built huge ovens at the pit head on the surface to keep the miners’ lunch hot until lunch time. The pasty is also known as Oggy, Hoggan,and Oggie; this definition just depends on what part of the country you are in.
The reason that the Cornish Pasty became the main diet of the tin miners was that they needed something easy to eat while working. The pasty’s contents were usually the leftovers for various meals so they further enhanced the taste of the meals with pepper seasoning. Legend also suggests that the crimp knot was discarded as a protection from the devil and perhaps more realistically it was discarded to protect the miner from the traces of arsenic that was on his hands from mining the tin. The wives of the men tried to make two courses in one pasty. One end was the main savory meal and a desert-like filling on the other to make a complete meal in one pasty casing. The way that the wives managed this was to partition off the two parts with a pastry section in between. The wives would sometimes engrave their husband’s name on the crust so they could go back to the leftover at a later time in the day.
As the pasty spread thought the country, there were variations of the pasties in Devon, Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Cumberland amongst many others. According to British culinary history, the pasty format travelled as the tin miners migrated to find alternative work when the mines were closing. The Cornish Pasty has travelled to far off shores with traces to the USA and Scandinavia when the Cornish migrants departed the UK in search of mining work overseas, the Cornish Pasty is prevalent in Michigan.
There is a tradition stretching back to 1908 when the Cornish Rugby team were to play an important match, a giant pasty was hoisted over the bar before the game. A contest in 1985 by some Young Farmers in Cornwall had made the largest pasty at that time. It measured thirty-two feet in length and took seven hours to bake. Then the record was broken by some Falmouth bakers in the First Pasty Festival.
As of 2002, the Cornish Pasty Association submitted an application to the United Kingdom government, Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; to obtain Protected Geographical Indication status for the Cornish Pasty. This will firmly secure the Cornish Pasty as the World Wide recognized brand of Cornwall and it’s bakers!