As identified by local food historian David L. Sloan in an Epicurious article, Key lime pie traces its origins to the mid-19th century recipe of an anonymous cook at the William "Bill Money" Curry mansion. With condensed milk an essential part of the modern recipe, a surprise is that the graham cracker crust pie never incorporated fresh cream. This has to do with Curry’s line of business as a hardware magnate who provided ships with provisions and imported the first tins of condensed milk to the Florida Keys. This long-lasting luxury product provided a safeguard against malnutrition and was soon a necessity of life in a region that did not have refrigeration or ice until the completion of the Overseas Highway in 1930.
Today, sweetened condensed milk is preferred over fresh cream in the recipe due to the distinctive texture and taste it adds to the pie. Unfortunately, indigenous Key lime groves were victim to a massive 1926 hurricane, and the original taste is extremely hard to replicate with the limes that are currently found in the Keys.