(And to be honest it is 7:45am and I could totally eat one right now!)
The origins of the pasty are largely unknown. It is generally accepted that the pasty originates from Cornwall, where pasties evolved to meet the needs of Cornish tin miners. Tradition claims that the pasty was originally made as lunch ('croust' or 'crib' in the Cornish language) for Cornish miners who were unable to return to the surface to eat. The story goes that, covered in dirt from head to foot (including some arsenic often found with tin), they could hold the pasty by the folded crust and eat the rest of the pasty without touching it, discarding the dirty pastry. The pastry they threw away was supposed to appease the knockers, capricious spirits in the mines who might otherwise lead miners into danger.The pasty's dense, folded pastry could stay warm for 8 to 10 hours and, when carried close to the body, helped the miner stay warm.
In such pasties meat and each vegetable would each have its own pastry "compartment," separated by a pastry partition. Traditional bakers in former mining towns will still bake pasties with fillings to order, marking the customer's initials with raised pastry. This practice was started because the miners used to eat part of their pasty for breakfast and leave the remaining half for lunch, meaning that a way to identify the pasties was needed.
Some mines kept large ovens to keep the pasties warm until mealtime. It is said that a good pasty should be strong enough to endure being dropped down a mine shaft.
Pasties are still very popular throughout Devon and Cornwall, as well as other parts of the UK. Pasties in these areas are usually hand-made and sold in bakeries or (less often) specialist pasty shops. They are also sold in supermarkets, but these are mass produced and often taste entirely different from traditional Cornish pasties. Several pasty shop chains have also opened up in recent years, selling pasties that are more traditional than the common mass-produced varieties while still offering novel fillings. It is common in some areas for pasties to be eaten "on-the-move" from the paper bag they are sold in, making them essentially a fast food.