Cherpumple: Innovation? Or What?

The cherpumple—that holiday dessert in which a cherry pie is baked in a white cake, an a pumpkin pie is baked in a yellow cake, and an apple pie is baked in a spice cake AND the whole thing is pasted together in layers with cream cheese frosting—has gone mainstream. The Wall Street Journal featured the cherpumple—and printed a recipe—earlier this November.

The cherpumple is the invention of one Charles Phoenix of Los Angeles. According to the the Wall Street Journal, Phoenix was “inspired to combine all my family’s traditional holiday desserts into one.”

An honest (undoctored) photo of a cherpumple. The layers will tend to collapse due to the weight of the pies.

An honest (undoctored) photo of a cherpumple. The layers will tend to collapse due to the weight of the pies.

I can’t help but ask, “why?”

Confession: all of us at Barnes & Conti like to eat. Many of us—this blogger included—are better than average cooks. Why shouldn’t we be? Our office is located only a mile or two from Berkeley’s famous “gourmet ghetto.” In the San Francisco Bay Area, we have access to wonderful ingredients year round and superb restaurants for every budget, encompassing any cuisine you can think of. Again I ask “why the cherpumple?”

The cherpumple—in my not so humble opinion—would not make it through our “Innovation Journey.”* Why not? Because the aim of the innovation journey is to create value. How does the cherpumple rate on the value scale?

First of all, it’s not cheap. The recipe calls for three frozen pies and three cake mixes. And the investment in time is huge. The pies have to cool before being baked in the cake. Then the cakes have to cool before being assembled. If the thing doesn’t collapse, it must make an impressive presentation. But what does it taste like? I sincerely have to ask, can you really take a mouthful that encompasses cherry, apple, and pumpkin—not to mention the cake mixes—all at once? It sounds rather disgusting to me.

Our Managing Innovation program identifies six forms of value that innovation delivers: economic, strategic, social, environmental, aesthetic, and personal. A true innovation will deliver at least one form of value. An innovative Thanksgiving dish,  should save time or money (economic), or be less wasteful (environmental), or taste wonderful and look great (aesthetic). The cherpumple, instead of being an innovation, seems to be a celebration of indiscriminate gluttony. Perhaps the “innovation”—if it’s really an innovation at all—of the cherpumple is to solve a family argument regarding the dessert: just have them all together at once in their goopy, gloppy, glory!

Here’s to a truly innovative, delicious, and thankful feast to all our readers.

Joel Kleinbaum
Blogger-in-Chief and Home Chef

Quotes from “For Those Who Can’t Decide on Dessert, Here’s the Dish” by Geoffrey Fowler, The Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2010

Photo from

*The Innovation Journey is part of our Managing Innovation program

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  1. […] on top of it all, we tried the “cherpumple” discussed on our recent blog (and reprinted in the newsletter), baked and brought by my sister. As a risk mitigation strategy, I […]

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