Rubin: Michigan primaries and Michigan pie

Neal Rubin
The Detroit News

The Michigan primaries are Tuesday, so let’s discuss pie. And mathematics.

Most any day lends itself to discussing pie, of course. Or better yet, consuming it in large quantities. You’re either a pie person or a cake person, just like most people favor either dogs or cats, and I vote pie.

Primary Day is a particularly apt springboard, though, because of a social statement they’ll be cooking up in a week at Grand Traverse Pie Co. — where, when they are not soothing a troubled nation, they will be giving away free slices.

The social statement — more of a gentle reminder, really — is called the Bipartisan Pie. It will be available starting March 14, which is where the math comes in.

March 14 can also be expressed as 3/14, as in 3.14, as in pi, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter — as in National Pi Day.

It’s an august occasion, even if it’s in March, and Grand Traverse Pie co-founder Mike Busley will commemorate it with his personal plea for teamwork, cooperation, and “the positive energy that should be a part of our election year.”

He’s referring to the Bipartisan Pie, which is collegial all the way to its roots in Michigan soil.

Part cherry and part blueberry, topped with stars and stripes made of dough, “it has red and blue working together to create something even better,” Busley says.

The fruits don’t grandstand, call one another names, or petulantly decide to bring the entire bakery to a halt. Plus, they have antioxidants.

Culinary connections

Busley’s team created the Bipartisan Pie well before Thursday’s Republican debate in Detroit, which was so embarrassing it made you long for the mortifying debate in Houston the week before.

A former engineer, he truly believes in the soothing properties of his product.

“Pie is meant for sharing,” he points out. “Pie connects people.” And the ingredients seem to understand the power of teamwork, like earnest little Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Greens holding hands and jumping into a mixing bowl for the advancement of all.

With the Bipartisan Pie, company chefs ultimately decided it needed slightly more cherries than blueberries. The blueberries accepted the decision without complaint.

“We tried putting them on different sides,” Busley says, “or one on top of the other,” but the pie didn’t work until they were blended together.

The filling winds up neither red nor blue, but purple. I’m not sure if that’s a parable for anything, but I can vouch that it’s delicious.

Free slices of ABC

The Bipartisan Pie will be available through the end of March at the 15 Grand Traverse Pie restaurants for $19.99, payable by cash, credit card or mysteriously sourced campaign contributions.

The chain was founded in Traverse City 20 years ago by Busley and his wife, Denise, whose business acumen and generosity made them Detroit News Michiganians of the Year in 2012.

They now have a second location in Traverse City that exists solely to funnel its profits to charity. Former Michigan Gov. William Milliken, who will turn 94 on March 26, still drives himself to the original store on the outskirts of downtown in a black Chrysler 300.

If he shows up on Pi Day, he can receive a free slice of ABC pie — apples, blueberries and cherries — with any purchase. The offer holds true at every store and is available to all customers, not just beloved seven-term ex-governors.

Monday is also Potato Chip Day, Napping Day and International Ask a Question Day. Pi Day is not officially a reason to eat pie, but if you need an official reason, you’re not trying hard enough.

The actual National Pie Day is Jan. 23, as decreed by the American Pie Council.

Jan. 23 is also designated as Women’s Healthy Weight Day. Good luck with that.