Sunday, October 31, 2010

where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies

I'm gonna plead ignorance here. I did some research, but it only turned up bits and pieces and not a full explanation.

For some time now, I've seen these guys selling pies. I don't know if it is purely a Philadelphia phenomenon or if it exists in other cities. I've spotted them in several places, but mostly on the median strip in the middle of bustling Broad Street and Windrim Avenue and sometimes at the foot of the escalator off of 15th Street at the entrance to the Market-Frankford subway line and Suburban Station.

They pace the street, facing oncoming traffic, waving a shrink-wrapped pie in the air, silently offering it for sale. They don't call "Pies for sale!" or anything like that. They just pace and wave. Wave and pace.

The pies look vaguely homemade, with golden crusts and golden-brown filling, not unlike pumpkin or sweet potato. The salesmen are all African-American and their appearance is reminiscent of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. They vary in age from early thirties down to barely seven or eight. Though not in uniform, per se, they all dress similar, as though they are following a dress code, sort of like Target employees. Solid color ill-fitting suit with pants that are too short to cover their white socks. Shined, two-tone shoes. White shirts adorned with a tiny red bow tie clamped tightly at the neck.

I don't know if they represent a particular group or movement or religion. I don't know the significance of their appearance. I don't know what the sale of the pies supports. And I don't know how the pies taste, but they sure look good.

Who are they and have they made it to your town yet?

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