Posted by ESC on February 01, 2000
In Reply to: "Simple as pie" or "easy as pie" posted by Kacttus on January 31, 2000
: Does anyone know the origin of this? Is is because pie-making is simple?
PIECE OF CAKE/EASY AS PIE - My guess is that these expressions (and one my grandmother used to describe a happy time, "everything's going to be honey and pie") relate to the "good life" of sitting around at one's leisure eating dessert - rather than a reference to the ease of making and baking.
The "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman states that: "It's a piece of cake - It's very easy to do. First used in the mid-twentieth century. During World War II, British soldiers used the expression to describe a mission that was extremely easy to accomplish."
However, the "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1977) give America the credit for originating the phrase. Mr. and Mrs. Morris also give the origin of "easy as pie."
"piece of cake/easy as pie - The two expressions are remarkably alike in meaning. 'As easy as pie' is an American expression. Back in the 1890s 'pie' was a common slang expression meaning anything easy, a cinch; the expression easy as pie stemmed quite readily from that. A 'piece of cake' has a somewhat more devious history. According to the Oxford Dictionary, it first appeared in print in a work by Ogden Nash, who wrote in 1936: 'Her picture's in the papers now, and life's a piece of cake.' But, if it first turned up in America, it was swiftly adopted by British airmen in World War II. In 1943 the author of 'Spitfires over Malta' wrote: 'The mass raids promised to be a 'piece of cake' and we expected to take a heavy toll.' Certainly 'piece of cake' was more originally more popular in Britain than in the United States."