pie plate

Frisbie Pie Company

The Frisbie Pie Company (1871-1958) was founded by William Russell Frisbie in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Yale students discovered that the pie tins, inverted, had an airfoil shape which could be thrown in various trajectories by a skilled person. This eventually evolved into the worldwide success of the Frisbee trademarked flying disc and many imitators. The Frisbie company was shut down in 1958, at the height of its popularity, the same year Frisbee was patented.

History of the company

In 1871, in the wake of the Civil War, William Russell Frisbie moved from Branford, Connecticut, where his father, Russell Frisbie, had operated a successful grist mill, to Bridgeport, Connecticut. Hired to manage a new bakery, a branch of the Olds Baking Company of New Haven, he soon bought it outright and named it the Frisbie Pie Company (363 Kossuth Street). W.R. died in 1903 and his son, Joseph P. Frisbie, manned the ovens until his death in 1940. Under his direction the small company grew from six to two hundred and fifty routes, and shops were opened in Hartford, Connecticut; Poughkeepsie, New York; and Providence, Rhode Island. His widow, Marian Rose Frisbie, and long-time plant manager, Joseph J. Vaughn, baked on until August 1958 and reached a zenith production of 80,000 pies per day in 1956.

Frisbie brand pies are still produced in Worcester, Massachusetts by Table Talk.

True origins of the name Frisbee, or Frisbie

In this otherwise simple baking operation we find the popular legend of the origin of the earliest 'flying frisbie'! The company offered a variety of bakery goodies, including pies and cookies, and therein resides the roots of the controversy. For there are two crusty schools concerning the flying frisbie's origin: the Pie-Tin School and the Cookie- Tin School, each camp holding devoutly to its own argument.

The Pie-Tin School. The pie-tin people claim Yale students bought Frisbie's pies (undoubtedly a treat in themselves) and tossed the prototype all over Eli's campus. These early throwers would exclaim "Frisbie" to signal the catcher. And well they might, for a tin Frisbie pan is something else again to catch.

The Cookie-Tin School. Now the cookie tin people agree on these details save one: they insist that the true, original was the cookie-tin lid that held in the goodness of Frisbie's sugar cookies.


In Back to the Future Part III, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) knocks a gun out of Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen's (Thomas F. Wilson) hand using a Frisbie pie plate. This would have been very unlikely because the movie takes place in California and the Frisbie Pie Co did not distribute outside New England. The presence of a Frisbie pie plate in the Old West seems like a bit of literary on the part of the screenwriter. Baked goods in the 1800s were distributed within relatively confined areas, due to their perishable nature. However, it is conceivable that a Frisbie tin might have traveled out west in a bundle of household goods, and been used for baking homemade pies.

Frisbie tins usually bring between $25 and $50 in the current (2007) marketplace. There are a number of variations in design style, including the size and placement of the Frisbie name; the number and placement of the vent holes (which can be star-shaped as well as the more common circular shaped hole) or no holes at all; and the presence of the phrase, "5 cents deposit" or simply "DEP" or (most commonly) no mention of deposit at all. There are round-shoulder tins, square-shoulder tins, and oblique-shoulder tins. Some tins simply have vent holes in an 'F' configuration in the center of the pan, and no text. Generally speaking, larger text makes a better display item, and the presence of the "5 cents deposit" phrase adds character, so these tins tend to be somewhat more desirable.


  • Johnson, S. E. D. (1975). Frisbee, A Practitioner's Manual and Definitive Treatise. M.D. Workman Publishing Company. ISBN 0-911104-53-4.
  • Morrison, Walter Frederick (2006). Flat Flip Flies Straight—True Origins of the Frisbee. Wormhole Publishers. ISBN 0-9774517-4-7

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