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Jim Surrell, MD, Journal columnist

A pasty is a British baked pastry, a traditional variety of which is believed to have originated in South West England. References to pasties in England can be dated all the way back to 1150.

The pasties are very commonly consumed in England and all over the British Isles. Pasties are made by placing an uncooked filling, typically meat and vegetables, on one half of a flat short crust pastry circle, folding the pastry in half to wrap the filling in a semicircle and crimping the curved edge to form a seal before baking the pasty .

When you think of the Upper Peninsula’s favorite food, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Most of us Yoopers would say pasties would be the favorite UP food. Pasties truly have become a frequently consumed Upper Peninsula food.

Pasties are truly a flavorful nutritious food and they are also rich in the history of our wonderful Upper Peninsula. Let us now take a brief look at the origin of the pasty coming to our Upper Peninsula, and becoming a very popular food item that remains with us today.

The pasty came to the United States when Cornish miners immigrated here in the 1840s. Again, the pasty can be dated all the way back to 1150 in England.

The pasty gained popularity with miners because it was easy to bring into the mines, and pasties kept them full throughout the long work days and the pasties could stay warm for many hours. If the pasty did become cold, miners could easily heat them up by placing it on a shovel and warming it up with heat from a candle.

The crusts of pasties were often initialed so the workers would know which pasty belonged to them. The pasty cook could also vary the ingredients in each pasty depending upon on the miner’s specific food preferences.

Once mining ended, the pasty lived on as it had become one of the favorite foods of so many folks living in the Upper Peninsula.

When the Mackinac Bridge opened in 1957, allowing increased tourism to the UP for Lower Peninsula Michiganders, pasties started to be sold in restaurants. gov. George Romney made the date of May 24 the statewide National Pasty Day in 1968 to celebrate the bridge between the Lower and Upper Peninsula cultures.

While the pasty spices differ between various pasty recipes, something they all have in common is potatoes and onions. The traditional Cornish pasty has sliced ​​vegetables while the evolved Yooper pasty has diced vegetables. A UP pasty may weigh up to two pounds and one pasty can often feed multiple family members. The UP pasty is often eaten with ketchup only, but some people like to enjoy their pasties with some added gravy.

Regardless of how you choose to eat your pasty, you will find it to be nutritious and very filling.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Jim Surrell is the author of “The ABCs For Success In All We Do” and the “SOS (Stop Only Sugar) Diet” books.Contact Dr. Surrell by email at

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