This recipe first appeared to me in my grandmother's cookbook, and had been written there for many years before me. She had met a woman at church who was visiting, (one who "talked funny, like one of those Europeans"), and the lady had shared this recipe with her circa 1932, rural Arkansas. It has always been known simply as "the" chocolate pie in our family. She didn't make them for just anybody, but for those of us she did, we cherished every crumb. This is a rich, bold, lush delight that cannot disappoint a true chocolate lover.
"3 eggs, separated
Add 1/2 cup milk and 1 cup sugar to yolks. Mix well. Add 1 1/2 cups milk, 3 to 4 tablespoons cocoa, a pinch of salt, and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or 1 tablespoon cornstarch). Stir over low heat til thickened. Pour into baked crust. Add meringue and toast." Cornelia P. Taunton
The Great Depression Chocolate Pie, as you can see, has only one thing that would have been viewed as "extra" on the grocery bill, that being the cocoa. The flour or cornstarch would have been needed for many other things. The eggs were likely free from the backyard. The milk probably soured quickly, and when there was extra, it was important to do something with it to prevent waste. They did not simply "run around the corner" and pick up supplies. Sometimes it took months to get an order in.
As you can see, my pie today has no meringue. I have no mixer, and I am far too lazy to make a proper meringue without one. Maybe another day I will do that. I really do not know that the meringue wasn't added later in the life of the pie. Had the meringue been invented in 1932?