Grasshopper pie is usually so named because of its green color, though modern recipes may omit coloring the pie green. It was likely invented in the 1950s in the United States, and may have been inspired by a drink called the grasshopper developed at about the same time. It is a chiffon pie usually made with a cookie crust.
There is an earlier grasshopper pie type dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. Some versions of this pie from the Philippines used real grasshoppers. These insects are eaten in many cultures, and they can be used in various desserts, where they may be sugared and baked, providing a crunchy, and to some very appetizing, confection. The 1950s grasshopper pie bears little resemblance to versions produced that have insects as a primary ingredient.
Chiffon pies in the 1950s were often a combination of whipping cream, gelatin, sugar, eggs, and flavoring. In the case of the grasshopper pie, common flavoring used was alcohol in the form of crème de menthe, and sometimes other alcohols like crème de cacao. For teetotalers, mint flavoring could be achieved by using mint extracts instead, though these might still contain a tiny amount of alcohol. Green food coloring was a frequent addition to give the pie a light green color.
Most often the cookie crust is made with chocolate wafers, so that the pie has a chocolate and mint flavor. The crust is baked for few moments and then chilled. When the chiffon is prepared, usually over a double boiler, it is chilled and then spooned over the crust. The pie tends to be served cold and many love its refreshing mint taste.
There may be very large differences between classic recipes for grasshopper pie and modern ones. Since gelatin can be somewhat annoying to work with, many people now prepare the pie by melting marshmallows and blending them with milk or whipping cream, and sometimes cream cheese. Green food coloring can be optional, and when not used the pie could be called “mint patty pie” instead. Some people may prefer using a graham cracker crust, and other recipes advocate the use of specific cookies like Oreos®.
In the US, grasshopper pie tends to be most popular in the South, but other parts of the country enjoy it too. The pie rose in popularity especially up until the 1970s, but it is now served with less frequency. Many ice cream stores capitalized on the flavor of this pie by producing their own version with mint or mint chocolate chip ice cream and a cookie crust. Some ice cream stores are particularly known for their grasshopper pie variants.