Unitasker Wednesday: Square Pie Iron

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

To corrupt a line from the movie Wedding Crashers

That’s what camping trips are known for: Sleeping in a tent and making pies!

When I go camping (which is probably once a decade), I’m insistent on making pies! Don’t you? I know you do. Everyone makes pies while camping. Pies and camping are a perfect pair, and the Square Pie Iron makes it possible:

I love this device’s product description on Amazon:

The classic, all-time favorite square pie iron loved by family campers & scouts and for 45 years. Made from solid cast iron with dependable chrome plated steel handles, you won’t find a better design on the market.

My favorite part is, “you won’t find a better design on the market.” Because, and let’s be honest here, a round pie would certainly be a better design. Am I right?

73 Comments for “Unitasker Wednesday: Square Pie Iron”

  1. posted by Keter on

    Have I been living under a rock, or is the connection between pies and camping a northern thing? Here in Texas, where picking berries in the wild is usually not possible, the camping dessert choice is S’mores…or when it is too! hot! for sitting close to a campfire, energy bars or Fig Newtons.

    As for square pies, when I bake at home, I make my cobblers in square pans.

  2. posted by Mary on

    Can’t say I have ever purchased one and although it doesn’t mention using it in this way, I know many people who use them to make hot sandwiches over the fire. Maybe they use the square ones to fit the bread?

  3. posted by Katie on

    @Mary, that’s exactly what they’re for. You butter the bread on the outside, put whatever goodness you like on the inside (meat, cheese, fruit, chocolate, whatever) and hold over the fire much as you would with S’mores. It may be a Northern thing, as I grew up in Michigan and confused the heck out of my Georgian camping buddies after I moved south.

  4. posted by Teli on

    My aunt and uncle have had one of these for years, it’s actually really useful for them. You make the pies with bread (buttered on the outside so it doesn’t stick) and pie filling in the middle, then you stick it under the coals and let it bake. Everyone goes to visit them at the campground in the summer and we make individual lemon pies. Unitasker for some, family tradition for others :)

  5. posted by Drake on

    Wow, It’s strange to me that so many people seem to have never heard of these. Everyone I knew who went camping around here had them. The reason that they are square, is that the “pies” are made using bread as the crusts.

    You butter the bread and put it butter side down into the iron, then you add pie-filling and clamp the whole thing down. You heat it up over the camp fire, and (if you did it right) the compression seals the edges (and usually a line diagonally down the center, making two triangles).

    We made lots of things in these growing up. Not just pies, but pizza pockets (filling with pizza sauce, mozzarella, and pepperoni) and grilled cheese sandwiches, things like that.

    Sure, technically is a unitasker. But then so are my Tent and my Kayak. Pretty much all camping equipment is only used for one thing.

  6. posted by joanna on

    We actually have this and really enjoy it. We go camping multiple times over the summer, and this “pie maker” gets used every time. We don’t often use it to make dessert, though- as a previous commenter said, we use it to make hot sandwich pockets, with bread, meat & cheese, or pizza pockets with bread, sauce, cheese, and pepperoni. For breakfast, we fill it with canned biscuits and let them “bake” in it over the fire.

    Think of it as a marshmallow stick for things that wouldn’t actually stay on a marshmallow stick. Not as bad a unitasker as some tools!

  7. posted by Chris on

    It is a unitasker, but I don’t know what you’d be able to use to obtain the same results.

    A clothes iron is a unitasker, too, but is efficient at achieving its goal and not easily replaceable.

  8. posted by karen on

    I think this is the first time I’ve disagreed with a Unitasker Wednesday choice.

    I’ve got 5 of these things, some over 15 years old and still kicking!

    – You don’t make a normal fruit pie in them. it’s more a campfire version of a hotpocket with your filling of choice between 2 slices of bread. We normally start with ham and cheese, pizza, and lebanon/cream cheese sandwiches and end up with fruit or choco/marshmallow pies for dessert.

    – you can make non-sandwich items in them, and it creates less waste than using tin foil when cooking in coals.

    – You can use them on the stove top… they make amazing grilled cheese sandwiches.

    – They do make round ones, but they make no sense. The square ones perfectly fit a slice of sandwich bread. That’s what they’re designed for! With a round one, the bread squeezes out the side and just chars off in the coals.

    My point is, if you are a city-person or someone who never camps, then this product makes no sense for you. If you, like me, have (and regularly use) a firepit or campfire, this product is a useful and versatile low mess cooking tool.

    It all depends on your lifestyle.

  9. posted by Cristina on

    These are awesome! Two Christmases ago my entire family got each got one, and we basically used them all week long when we went camping during the summer. Not only did we make pies, we made pizzas, grilled cheese sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, smores, almost everything you can think of!

  10. posted by starting to think clutter *is* a mental disorder on

    In defense of this, I think it stems from a Hobo Pie which used a couple of pieces of bread for a “crust” and whatever [shudder] for the filling, all baked together. Seems I’m not the first to remember this? I think this fails the Unitasker test: it’s no watermelon knife or precut brownie pan.

  11. posted by FastEddie on

    This is for “hot pocket” style hot food when camping. You can cook these on a wood fire, which allows you to eat hot food without bringing pots and pans, camp stove etc.

    You can make hot sandwiches, desserts, pizza pockets. Even breakfast if you can keep it level until the egg sets.

    Not really fair to pick on camping gear as a unitasker.

  12. posted by Katha on

    Actually, the Amazon product description already contains the hint as to why it would be square:
    “To use simply place two pieces of buttered bread in the clam shell style compartment and stuff with preserves, cheese & meat, pie filling or whatever you want.”

    I agree, though, that I would not have thought that a hot sandwich with filling becomes “pie” when baked in this.

  13. posted by Sam on

    I agree with the rest of the posts that this is not a Unitasker. My family owns several of these, which we use to make really tasty pizza sandwiches, grilled cheese, and whatever else we feel like when we’re camping. If you were to go to a campground during the summer, at least in the northern US, you’d see these used at many campsites. And most wilderness stores up here always keep them in stock.

  14. posted by falnfenix on

    if this is a unitasker, so are tents and sleeping bags.

  15. posted by Rhonda on

    Oooh! This brings back fond childhood memories of camping every weekend and fighting over holding this over the fire with my cousins! Homwade pizza pockets were the ‘pie’ of choice, because one of the aunts would bring along a real pie.

  16. posted by Sabrina on

    These are not unitaskers. These are just annoying.

    The round cast iron pie irons are worth the search, as they seal the edges of the bread better. They can be used for everything from pocket pizzas to smores in pie form. They’re a camping neccessity.

    plus, as noted above, they’re round.

  17. posted by Schlaegel on

    You missed the mark here. This is a great and useful device. You make a sandwich with bread on the outside and something delicious like jam on the inside, and then clamp it shut. Next you roast it over the fire like roasting marshmallows or hot-dogs. Finally you let it cool and eat a tasty treat. Oh, I would agree with them, the square shape is best, since it fits the bread. In addition to the mentioned “pie”, it makes wonderful meat and melted cheese sandwiches.

  18. posted by Kathryn on

    When I go camping (which is probably once a decade

    Well, there you go.

    No, a round pie iron would not be a better design. If you’re the sort of person who goes camping several times a year, these are handy and surprisingly versatile. Not only can you cook bread pies and grilled sandwiches in them–you can also use them for things like hamburger patties, potatoes obrien, veggies, etc. Think of it as a wood-fired George Foreman Grill.

  19. posted by Jenn on

    In my neck of the woods, that is known as a mountain pie iron and as for what it makes, don’t knock it until you try it. :)

  20. posted by Elle on

    Yup, I’ve got to agree with those who are disagreeing with Unitasker today. One of my fond memories of childhood was when my grandmother used to make me a “pizza pie” in something like this. In the house. You butter a couple of pieces of bread, slather tomato sauce on the other side, add a few slices of mozzerella and some basil, close the thing up and toast it on the stove. Now of course we’d come up with much more gourmet versions, but it wouldn’t be the same.

    But I do confess, I have used mine for panini-like sandwiches. Yummers.

  21. posted by Liz on

    Keter-I used to camp a lot as a kid, and no, pies are not a nothern camping thing. In what probably totals up to 100+ camping trips, we *never* made pies.
    We did have things like this that were bread-sized, and used to make what now would probably be called campfire paninis. Unitasker? maybe, but so was the tent!

  22. posted by Tina on

    I have to agree with some previous posters who disagree with this post. The most memorable things I remember from camping when I was a kid were the “pies” we made in these things. Bacon and egg pie for breakfast, ham and cheese pie for lunch, hamburger and potato pie for dinner. Now that I think about it, I don’t remember having any non-savory pies at all.

  23. posted by SMK on

    Pudgie Pies are a camping staple in my neck of the woods. You can use pie filling, marshmallows & chocolate, cheese & tomato sauce, canned stew or just about anything. The square shape is to accommodate the shape of a standard loaf of bread. There are several cookbooks available at your local library, if you’re stumped for ideas.

    I have an electric sandwich-maker that does the same thing without the campfire & makes quick sandwiches with sealed edges that are great when you need to grab a meal & run. Unitasker, yes. Useful, tasty and fun? Check, check and check!

  24. posted by Mac on

    This is a useful item for any camper.

  25. posted by dtj on

    Our Boy Scout troop has several of these devices and they are quite beloved. Coupla cans of pie filling and a loaf of white bread and you have great deserts (called “Pudgy Pies”) over the campfire. Smores are great, but on the n’th night in a row, they lose their charm. I think I recall some enterprising scouts using cooked french toast and syrup in them as well.

  26. posted by kim_n21 on

    They do make round ones- we had some when I was in Girl Scouts. And yeah, it’s a unitasker, but it’s a way more useful unitasker than some that Unclutterer has featured! The good ones also let you take them apart completely and you can use them as mini-frying pans over the fire, which makes it a not entirely unitasker, too. You can make a lot of different things with a pie iron; they’re pretty indispensable when you’ve got a troop of 2nd and 3rd graders. Each kid can put whatever they want on their sandwich so you don’t have to worry about the picky eaters, they get to make their own meal (which is big fun when you’re 7, because you get to play in the fire!) and then you can use them to make dessert (bread with pie filling). Very useful camping item!

  27. posted by kiley on

    You must be a city person or perhaps a non camping person! We grew up with one of these “bush pie” makers!! Can’t imagine living without one!!!

  28. posted by Samuel on

    OMG…I never knew you could get square ones… I have a round one (called a Diabolo) that I use to make awesome toasted cheese sandwiches and egg sandwiches. The trouble is, it cuts the corners off, this is so much better!

    If this is a Unitasker then so is a toaster!!

  29. posted by Jennifer on

    You city slickers are quite out of touch.

    They are square because you use bread as the pie crust. And as the other posters noted you can make all kinds of yummy stuff in them when camping. I’m glad someone threw out the term “Pudgie Pie” because I couldn’t for the life of me remember what they are called!!

  30. posted by Tweetie on

    Well, after reading the comments, it looks like I missed out on a fun and memorable part of childhood camping experiences! We didn’t do a lot of tent camping (my parents had an RV) when I was growing up, but now that I live in the Pacific NW, my husband and I go camping 2-3 times a year. I think this would be a fun and helpful addition to our camping gear. So even though this is not such a good Unitasker post, I’d like to thank Erin and all the commenters for bringing this to my attention and explaining all the wonderful camp-style foods you can cook in it!

  31. posted by Vanessa on

    Sorry Erin, but I agree that this shouldn’t be a Unitasker. Living in Colorado I go camping several times a year, and I rely on my pie iron to do a job that would be much more difficult, messy, and probably wasteful without it.

    To me, a “Unitasker Wednesday”-worthy product has to do with more than being useful for a single purpose. Unitaskers are products that solve problems that do not exist (rock paper scissors cards?) rather than being singularly good solutions for real problems. Lots of sporting goods are really only useful for a single purpose, but they’re so useful for that purpose compared to anything else available that if you use them repeatedly, it makes sense to own the product. Ice skates are shoes that you can’t walk in, jog in, or wear to work, but if you play hockey, figure skate or have a pond in your back yard that freezes every winter, then they’re useful footwear. If you go camping a lot, then you might find a pie iron to be singularly useful in meal preparation – especially if you have picky eater kids who you know will eat sandwiches. I know that being an unclutterer is about assessing what each person needs in their own life, but the best Unitasker Wednesday posts feature products that no one needs, regardless of lifestyle or activities.

  32. posted by Peggy on

    Definitely not a unitasker! We have 2 round and 2 square ones. You can use them as mini-skillets over the fire as others have said, as well as the many sandwich options, dessert options, biscuits, hamburgers, and one I haven’t seen here yet, eggs. We use them to make individual omelets over the fire. They are a great and versatile help to us when camping, but we also use them when grilling at home or having a small fire out back. If this is a unitasker, then so is my skillet at home!

  33. posted by Karmen on

    It’s a multitasker hidden in unitasker’s clothing. You don’t even have to go camping to use it. My mom used to make hot PBJs on the stove with a pie iron. (Oh so good!) It works with any stove, gas or electric, but you have to turn the iron a few times for even heating. I’ve actually been shopping around for one recently, so I can relive childhood happy days and introduce a yummie treat to my son.

  34. posted by Rae on

    I’m with Kiley, you don’t camp!

    I use these to make all manner of sandwiches when camping. So much neater and easier than setting up a grill!

    I also use them to cook potatoes–butter, thinly sliced potatoes, onions, salt, pepper. Yuuuum.

  35. posted by Jon on

    The square ones are great for sandwiches. Round ones are great for pies. Just use normal canned biscuits instead of bread and fill with fruit or canned pie filling. Creates a nice, enclosed golden pie once the biscuits cook.

  36. posted by Britney on

    We used those to make grilled cheese sandwiches and pizza toasts in Girl Scouts. We used sandwich bread so the shape was perfect.

  37. posted by Brady on

    A pie iron is very useful addition to your camping equipment, and not a uni-tasker. Toast and eggs in the morning, pies in the evening, all around a very versatile piece of camping cooking gear. Growing up, we made our own sandwiches in them all the time on the kitchen stove.

  38. posted by Jill on

    2 words-GRILLED CHEESE! We had these some 35 years ago when I was a child. I’m going to call my mother now because I feel cheated that we never tried it with pizza ingredients.

  39. Profile photo of

    posted by STLMom on

    Now I’m dying to go camping and make myself a toasted peanut butter banana sandwich over the fire…

  40. posted by Robin on

    The iron is square so you can use slices of bread to form the pie’s crust instead of trying to deal with dough.

    I have one of these and while it is a unitakser it takes up so little room in my camping gear shed I just don’t care. We don’t even just use it while camping anymore, it works fine on a grill as a great end to a barbecue.

  41. posted by mbohio on

    I also agree – you’re just not a camper. I love making pizzas with these. It’s a highlight of camping.

  42. posted by Kim on

    I’m thrilled to see this. I went to a camp when I was in 6th grade that did apple pies with these and they were the best. I didn’t know they were so common and could be bought.

    I’d almost forgotten how awesome that night was! Cool! Thanks!

    First time I’ve found the unitasker a good thing and not a silly thing!

  43. posted by Carol on

    I couldn’t go camping without these. My kids would have a fit!

  44. posted by Jeff on

    I think this is the ultimate camping MULTItasker. One of these and a camp fire and you can cook a wide range of things. We never go camping without them.

  45. posted by infmom on

    My parents never went camping in their lives, but we had a gizmo similar to this when I was growing up. You could make a pretty good grilled cheese sandwich in it (yes, it was square, and about the size of a slice of bread, with a raised circular section in the middle of each half of the gizmo) and if you really wanted to get messy about it, you could put a hamburger patty between two slices of bread and cook that.

    Of course, since my father–who never cooked–always insisted on having electric stoves, the “sandwich cooker” (as it was called) wasn’t particularly easy to use, and the results were variable depending on how diligently you turned the gizmo on the electric burner.

  46. posted by priest's wife on

    You have all convinced me!

    I am getting one for our next camping trip!

  47. posted by Susan on

    Nope, you’re not right this time, Erin! Loved these things while camping and growing up. Even bought some for our infrequent camping trips as they seem to go with the whole experience. For once a decade campers you may have a point, though.

  48. posted by DawnF on

    Okay, people – get over it already.

    Let’s all move on and enjoy life!

  49. posted by Wendy M on

    I had a feeling there was going to be some comments about this one as soon as I saw it! Now, my family heirlooms are the Toas-Tite irons, which are round. The only creation I’ve ever eaten from one is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and I’ve never wanted anything else from it. Think that will be dinner tonight!

  50. posted by Moriah on

    My family calls them “Pudgie Pie makers” and I think we have 4+ of various shapes. My favorite fillings are pizza toppings, beef stew, and the fruity ones too, of course. But not cherry.:P You could also put prepared sloppy joe mix in, cheese and refried beans, and so much more! Virtually no cleanup since all the gooey stuff is inside the bread. IT’S A CAMPING MIRACLE!

  51. posted by Karen on

    Oh man, my kids would love this. We don’t go camping a lot, but we have a fire pit in our backyard and are always building fires to toast marshmallows and roast hot dogs in the summer. It’s a nice way to cook without heating up the house. With these we could make grilled cheese and lots of other things. Awesome!

  52. posted by Pamela on

    Hmmm…..have to disagree. LOVE this product when camping!!

  53. posted by FutureCat on

    In New Zealand, we call them toastie pies, and they’re usually savoury, with cheese and other fillings. Using the term “pie” for them isn’t as strange here, because savoury pies are very common in NZ (in fact, probably more common than sweet pies – if you say “pie” here, most people will assume you mean a meat pie, i.e. pastry filled with mince (ground beef) and gravy).

    Somewhere in my garage I’ve got one of those campfire toasty pie makers that was handed down to me by my parents – I think they got it as a wedding present (which would have been 1968, so they’re definitely not a new thing!).

    ^ ^
    00
    =+=
    v

  54. posted by Amy on

    Using these was one of my favorite parts of camping growing up.

    I don’t have any of my own, and I think this unitasker post had the opposite affect, because I think I’m going to buy a couple.

    Great suggestions in the comments on what to fill them with!

  55. posted by Kim on

    I agree with so many of the other commenters on this post! Making campfire pies and sandwiches with this tool is a family tradition, and I can’t imagine how you’d achieve the same thing as easily without it. It’s not so much a uni-tasker when you think of all the different sweet and savoury fillings you can use. :) We’ve also used this device to make regular toast to go with eggs we cooked on the camp stove.

  56. posted by Madaco on

    In Australia we call them Jaffle irons and use them to make jaffles – sealed toasted sandwiches – at home or away camping. Usually savoury, with egg and/or cheese being a favourite, although banana is good too, with or without chocolate. Any traditionalist will tell you that only the round ones are genuine and the square ones are just Toastie Toasters and don’t seal the bread properly! Many hours of arguments ensue, of course. Thanks everyone for all the great recipe ideas. A family favourite is about to branch out in new directions

  57. posted by Melissa on

    I love pie irons! They’re great for camping. I would classify this as a USEFUL unitasker. You can make lil pizzas, panninis and pies in the campfire.

  58. posted by DavidG on

    About 99% of the unitaskers are total garbage, but I totally disagree. These things are very useful when camping to bake individual serving of many different dishes. Perhaps one of the best ways to a calzone or a desert while camping. Delicious…

  59. posted by Sally on

    This isn’t a unitasker — you can make pies; bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches; grilled cheese; panini; etc. in it. We love ours — we use it camping and also at home in our firepit.

    We camp a lot — several trips every summer; and part of the fun of camping is cooking stuff in the campfire. I am guessing that Erin is a non-camper!

  60. posted by EngineerMom on

    Erin, you goofed on this one – not a unitasker anymore than a frying pan is a unitasker!

    The pan is square to accommodate square slices of bread, and you can fill the “pie” with anything – pizza sauce with toppings and cheese, ham and cheese, jam and berries for a “pie”, chocolate and marshmellows for a s’more pie, etc.

    I’ve used them while camping, but mostly around a bonfire at my friend’s house in high school. Her family would have a bonfire at least once a month as long as it wasn’t too cold, so these things got a LOT of use just by us guests, in addition to her family using them in the fireplace in the winter.

    I personally don’t own any because we don’t have enough land to do a bonfire (teeny yard) or a fireplace for an indoor fire, but I do plan to get some when my kids are old enough to take camping (one is almost 3, and the second is still baking).

  61. posted by Kimberly Draiss on

    Wow- Jenn had it; They are “Mountain Pies” as I’ve heard it. I have friends who frequently host backyard campfires with a table spread out full of all sorts of cold cuts and toppings for these amazing little delicacies! And these friends are located both in New York and Pennsylvania; I learned it from them and am glad I did!

  62. posted by The Other Jen on

    Poor Erin! If it makes you feel a bit better, I’m a Canadian who started camping in the 70’s and has camped often since then, and I’ve Never seen or heard of this. But I usually solo camp or camp with living history groups, so I’m probably “out of the loop”
    Looks similar to a popcorn popper that my Mom had at the cottage, a wire mesh basket about the same size, that you shake over the stove or over the flames.
    If I wanted to make a pocket sandwich or grilled cheese, I use my fry pan, same as I do at home.

  63. posted by kalamari on

    I have to agree with Chris:
    >>>>
    It is a unitasker, but I don’t know what you’d be able to use to obtain the same results.

    A clothes iron is a unitasker, too, but is efficient at achieving its goal and not easily replaceable.
    >>>>>
    What are you suggesting we could use that is not a unitasker?

  64. posted by Khalil on

    I also disagree… We have six of them and make meals and desserts when camping and arund our home firepit when not camping. Bad call today!

  65. posted by OhCaptain on

    Hate to pile on but you missed on this. The round is a better design in that it does make round pies, but then you throw away a lot of bread. Bread is square. When you use the round ones,you have to cut off the overflow bread unless burnt bread tastes good (which it does’t). Unfortunately, you don’t cut off all that much, so to the ground it goes.

    Most of your unitaskers are funny. This one, about like calling your toaster a unitasker since it only makes, um, toast. Which is also tasty.

    Go camping, make any one of the treats listed in the comments and come back and tell us these are silly :)

  66. posted by beth on

    Nope, round would not be better since bread is square.

  67. posted by Stephanie H. on

    “If I wanted to make a pocket sandwich or grilled cheese, I use my fry pan, same as I do at home.”

    True, you could do it that way and it wouldn’t require any extra equipment – if you are’t camping with kids. Mountain pie makers are different and entertaining to bored kids on camping trips. I have found memories of camping with my Girl Scout troop. The fun part wasn’t putting up the tent (work) or sleeping in the cold on the ground in the tent (cold & uncomfortable). The fun part was being around the camp fire (warm), making mountain pies for dinner and then s’mores for dessert (delicious)! You could do it your way – put what you want in them, cook them however much you wanted to – it was complete control, and complete bliss for a kid! It kept us happy and cheerful, which was priceless to my troop leader, my mom.

  68. posted by K00kyKelly on

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned Dutch ovens as an alternate choice for making tasty camping deserts! Dutch Oven Cobbler is a favorite of mine!!

  69. posted by Todd on

    You’ve missed the boat on this one. Pie irons are a time-honored camping tool. Great for fruit filled pies, grilled cheese sandwiches, etc. I was a Scout leader for a number of years, and other than dutch oven desserts, these were our boys favorite desserts.

    Your unitaskers are usually pretty ridiculous. This isn’t one of them. And yes, square is to fit classic white bread.

  70. posted by Alix on

    Clearly there are two kinds of people in the world: those who camp, and those who’ve never seen one of these things in their entire lives.

  71. posted by Laura on

    Oops….we have several of these and they are a key item in our camping kit. We camp every year with family in 3 cabins and we never have enough to go around. We tend to use them for pizza and sandwiches instead of fruit pies. We also have a round one…perfect for English muffin / bagel breakfast sandwiches and 2 that work like panini presses.

    Mmmm…..

    I agree with the comment…if this is a unitasker so is the tent and sleeping bag.

  72. posted by Lois on

    Have to weigh in on the missed-the-boat side, I’m afraid! First time ever; I really enjoy the Unitaskers. I had a passel of these when I was a Girl Scout leader, and we made all the things described by other folks. We still have a few for our camping trips, which are too infrequent these days.

  73. posted by Tami on

    You are really wrong here, Erin. These are great for camping: We make pizzas, grilled cheese, eggs, and yes, pie with these.
    They are a great multi-tasker for folks doing some simple, uncluttered camping.

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