IT is a campaign from the stomach as much as the heart.
Connoisseurs of one of Scotland’s oldest and most filling delicacies have launched a campaign urging a leading high street baker to reinstate it to its menus.
Nearly 1,000 people have added their names to a petition calling on Greggs to reintroduce the macaroni pie to stores after it was usurped by Mediterranean and Asian-inspired lines.
Kezia Dugdale MSP, a candidate for the Scottish Labour leadership, is among those to have backed the lighthearted campaign, which has grown online in recent days.
With a cheesy macaroni filling inside a hot water crust pastry case, the humble pie is seen by many as the apotheosis of Scotland’s poor diet.
But supporters of the carbohydrate-rich treat point out that it is healthier than the likes of a Scotch pie or a steak bake, while also providing a savoury option for vegetarians.
Ms Dugdale took to social media to rally support from other prominent female politicians at Holyrood, tweeting a link to the petition to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, who have yet to join the bandwagon.
“Sisters, I think some teamwork on this one is essential,” she wrote. Although the Lothian MSP described her support as a “wee bit of fun,” she pointed out that the macaroni pie was the “low cal option” compared to other Greggs fare.
While a Scotch pie and a bridie have 322 and 343 calories respectively, the macaroni pie contains just 262 calories.
The campaign was launched last Friday by Paul Tonner, a graphic designer from Falkirk. By Monday his petition on the change.org website had attracted 100 signatories, but Ms Dugdale’s profile has brought in a surge of support in the past 24 hours. Last night, 919 people had added their names.
Mr Tonner said he decided to set up the page after leaving his local branch of Greggs disappointed last week.
“It was only when I went into Greggs last Thursday to get a mid-morning pie I found out. I went up to the counter and she said, ‘We’re not getting any back in’,” he said.
“I was a bit confused and straight away called customer services. They confirmed it was taken of the menu. I was very disappointed and said, ‘I’m going to start a petition’.”
The macaroni pie is also produced by the Shotts-based bakery group, Bells, and is sold at most supermarkets. It can be found sporadically in butchers, while the occasional fish and chip shop will go that step further and serve it battered with chips.
The pie is also popular in parts of the Caribbean, where it is often adorned with meat and extra spices.
For many Scots, however, the pie is synonymous with Greggs and Mr Tonner believes the company has erred by replacing it with the likes of a Mediterranean pork roll and green Thai chicken lattice.
“They have said they’re replacing it with more fancy things, but who wants a Mediterranean sausage bake?” the 43-year-old asked. “The macaroni pie is sauce and pasta with cheese, a crispy topping, wrapped in a crisp pastry case. It’s a carbohydrate double whammy. It’s quite a Scottish thing, putting two carbs together. At least you know what is in it. You’re never sure what’s in the sausage rolls.”
The campaign has also gained support from vegetarians, including Scottish actor Colin McCredie. The Taggart and Shallow Grave star tweeted: “That’s it you’re chucked @GreggsOfficial #disgrace #savethepie.”
Other backers, writing on the petition page, gave effusive tributes. One rallying call, from Fraser Shand, stated: “We must celebrate the Scottish ability to misappropriate the cuisines of other countries.” Another, Craig Graham, stated simply: “It brings hope to the hungover.”
A spokeswoman for Greggs said: “While we appreciate that some customers will miss the macaroni pie, we are continually refreshing our product range in line with customer demand to provide a variety of food-on-the-go options in our shops.”