Mince pie, as the dessert is known in Great Britain, dates to the 12th century, when sweet-savory flavor combinations from the Near East became popular in England. The pie originally contained both fruit and meat; mutton, beef, ox tongue, and venison were popular choices. The brandy and rum that we've come to expect in this dessert weren't common until much later, when cooks began preserving the filling with alcohol. The pies came in all shapes: there were tall, molded pastries known as raised pies, as well as dainty, single-serving ones. For Christmas, cooks often made an oblong version meant to evoke the shape of Christ's manger; the spices inside—typically black pepper, ground cloves, and mace—were said to represent the gifts brought by the three kings from the East. The lavish use of these once exotic ingredients earned mince pie pride of place at Elizabethan-era and Jacobean-era feasts, where it was served as part of the main course, especially around Christmastime. Each Christmas, wealthy landowners would invite tenants and serfs into the manor house for a saturnalian celebration of eating, drinking, gambling, dancing, and general merriment—a payment in pies for a year's worth of service.