Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Return of the Pie

 Good news for Hubig's affianados.  The legendary New Orleans treat will rise from the ashes after its factory burned down ten years ago.  The Baton Rouge Morning Advocate reported last week: 

When Yvonne Cage learned that the Hubig's Pies factory in Faubourg Marigny had burned down, she knew exactly what she had to do. She dashed to a nearby gas station and bought an apple version of the little hand pies.

It wasn't to eat, but to stash. ''I put it in a bag and put it in the freezer,'' said Cage, who still has that pie in the freezer at her Kenner home. ''I knew after that fire, they weren't going to be back for a while. I just didn't know it would take this long.''

That may echo the sentiment of many out there pining for another taste of Hubig's Pies.

Wednesday marks 10 years since the fire destroyed the local company's pie-making facility on Dauphine Street. These humble, fruit-filled fried pies remain unattainable, causing both cravings and consternation among those who love them.

But today, the family owners of Hubig's Pies reaffirmed their plan to return, and they say they are gaining momentum. After a series of delays nixed earlier predictions of when that could happen, however, owner Drew Ramsey would offer no estimate on the timeline.

''There are still some factors beyond my control,'' he said, declining to elaborate. ''But we're going produce a product that people recognize and remember and enjoy, and we're closer to that than we've ever been.''

Piece by piece toward pies

Ramsey and the first members of his staff, including veterans of the pre-fire Hubig's, are assembling a new production facility just off Jefferson Highway near the Huey P. Long Bridge. The machinery to shape and fry the pies is in place, along with a giant carousel-like cooling rack that can handle about 7,500 of the oblong treats at a time.

Suppliers for fruit, sugar, flour and other pie staples have been lined up, and routes of distribution have been reestablished, Ramsey said. The company has finally completed what proved to be a lengthy Food and Drug Administration approval process for its labels.

''We haven't changed a grain of salt or a scoop of sugar in what we do, but we had been off the market long enough that we had to go through the whole approval process again,'' Ramsey said.

Logistical problems that have roiled many parts of the economy through the pandemic have played havoc with earlier timelines here. Getting the right walk-in freezer delivered and installed was a yearlong process, for instance.

But another reason the return of Hubig's Pies has been slow is the approach that Ramsey is determined to maintain. The task, as he sees it, is not to build a new pie-making facility or relaunch a brand. It is to build Hubig's Pies back up to precisely what its customers remember, from the taste of the fruit fillings to the texture of the crust to the crinkle of the wrapper. This has entailed a meticulous approach to finding the right equipment and materials.

''The next pie that's going to be made will be identical in every way to the last one that left for the market,'' Ramsey said. ''We really had it down pat that we could have a consistent product every time. I'm laser-focused on making sure that happens again and people get the Hubig's they remember.''

Those are memories that go deep around New Orleans.

A ritual gone wanting

In business since 1921, Hubig's Pies became more than just a familiar convenience food in New Orleans.

The grab-and-go treats, which could be found at the grocery, hardware store or gas station, were inexpensive products that became part of New Orleans' daily routine, and thus ingrained in the hearts of a city that loves its rituals.

After the 2012 fire, Hubig's sued the building's fire suppression company. The suit was resolved in the pie maker's favor after several years of litigation. Plans were underway for a new facility in New Orleans, and by 2013 the New Orleans City Council approved a request to build a new plant. Those plans fell through, however. Today, a row of homes stands on the location of the old factory.

A split in the business partnership behind the pre-fire Hubig's led to further years of delay. Eventually, Ramsey's family consolidated control of the company and pledged to move forward.

As the Hubig's drought has lengthened, the yearnings for Hubig's Pies have been sharp, and they often stretch way past snack food cravings. The jones for them has inspired public displays of devotion and personal memorials to the old favorite, from Mardi Gras costumes to private devotional altars.

There have also been challengers to its role. For instance, Haydel's Bakery, best known for its king cakes, drew much attention in 2016 when it introduced a new hand pie that is similar in size, shape and packaging to Hubig's.

Slow progress, long cravings

At the slowly progressing new Hubig's facility, however, Ramsey and his production crew remain focused on continuity. That includes calculations for the hand pies' retail price. Hubig's Pies were selling for $1.19 each in 2012.

Ramsey doesn't have a set price yet for the pies, but he said that it will reflect the gradual increases that would have happened over the past decade.

''The pie is going to be as economical as it was. We very much want to be a pie for the people, and we are keenly aware of the pressures on our customers right now,'' he said.

When production is ready, Hubig's Pies will start with its six ''staple flavors,'' Ramsey said: apple, lemon, peach, pineapple, chocolate and coconut. Limited-run flavors will return in their seasonal progression, with sweet potato, cherry, strawberry, blueberry and banana to come.

Hubig's also plans to launch a new website that will offer online ordering and shipping, ''to get pies in the hands of expatriated New Orleanians,'' Ramsey said.

It will also have a feature to customize the pie labels for weddings, baby showers and other such events, which were a popular request in the past. ''We're trying to anticipate the needs of our customers now,'' Ramsey said.

In Kenner, Cage has never given up hope on Hubig's return, and she's kept that apple pie in the freezer as a reminder. The little pie even made it through roof damage and an extended power failure at her home brought by Hurricane Ida last year. However long it takes, Cage said she is ready to queue up the moment Hubig's Pies hit the market again.

''Oh, I'll be there,'' she said. ''Others might imitate it, but no one can duplicate it. I need it.''


Anonymous said...

Do we get any of those up this way? I'm in for any type of fried fruit pie. In a pinch, "No body does it like Sara Lee, Dolly Madison", Hostess... Damn i'm hangry

Anonymous said...

Good. Need something sweet to go with my chee-wees!

Anonymous said...

They kinda suck tbh

Local thing in NOLA

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of a hubig pie. What makes it special?

Anonymous said...

it’s a New Orleans culture thing. Racist inbred hayseed hillbillies from the sticks of Mississippi wouldn’t get it.

Anonymous said...

Overrated as fuck. Just like Zapp’s and King Cakes.

Anonymous said...

"it’s a New Orleans culture thing. Racist inbred hayseed hillbillies from the sticks of Mississippi wouldn’t get it."

After experiencing some of that New Orleans culture, I'm gonna stick to my redneck hillbilly ways. But I'm guessing you're still gonna need my tax dollars.

Anonymous said...

4:18 I’ll put Sipp gas station food up against them little pies any day of the week.

Anonymous said...

Growing up in Louisiana, I always enjoyed Hubig's Pies. It's doubtful they will make it to the Jackson market.

Anonymous said...

Only true trailer park royalty would think “Sipp” is clever.

Anonymous said...

A fresh box of spicy Chicken and homemade biscuits
from the Tylertown Shell Gas Station is better than any Popeyes.

The same applies to the Brookhaven Hwy 84 Chevron.
But the Brookhaven Chevron is all about the homemade burger.

Anonymous said...

4:18 PM Culture and sense of taste are against the law in Mississippi along with history and a few other things.

Kingfish said...

Hubig's is going to sell them online.

Anonymous said...

Opening a food processing business on the eve of a global food shortage is a bold move, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off!

Anonymous said...

A telling tale of Miss Food as it relates to Louisaians. Miss’s famous Shed BBQ opened a huge place that is usually only 25% full on most days and nights. There only hope is Football Season!

Anonymous said...

6:32 ...FOR THE WIN!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

5:44 it’s about as clever as “NOLA”.

Anonymous said...

Many, many years ago McDonald's had the best hot apple pies. Then they decided lard wasn't good.

I like Apple said...

Good to see Hubig's back up. While only occasionally traveling through their market area of Louisiana, I'd pick up a pie and thought they were quite good. It was sad to see the place burn in 2012. Just like everything else "Ya can't get no more" not long after sellers were trying to get big $$$ for a pie on ebay. Wouldn't say I'd go out of my way to get a Hubig pie, but like they say "When in Rome"....

Anonymous said...

They got nothing on Tom's Fried Pies. Got to get by their new location...soon.

Kingfish said...


Although the deep fried cherry pie at McDonald's was the best. I hate that baked crap.

Unknown said...

Krystal sells a fried aPple pie like what you used to get at McDonald’s.

Popeyes sells them too, but they are covered in cinnamon sugar.

Kingfish said...

Yes but as a reader once wrote, the Whataburgers have more filling. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Try Tom's Fried Pies. They have the best and local!

Anonymous said...

Tom’s Fried Pies are incredible, sweet or savory. Truly delicious.

Anonymous said...

Tom's Mexican pie is so good!

Anonymous said...

I hope they produce a pie that has real fruit. One brand that is sold in other parts of the country had real fruit and started filling then with fruit flavored jello.........horrible product!!!

Ophelia said...

You simpletons are quibbling about a…packaged fried pie? Seriously? I don’t care much for late-breaking “hard news,” but a lame narrative about a company peddling some syrupy, faux-fruity breaded thing…? How much boring-er can this site become? Kingfish, up your game, s’il vous plait…

Anonymous said...

The old school McDonalds pie was very good as a previous poster said. I wish they would go back to the old recipe. And for the ones dissing each other about the two states remember the rest of the country looks down on both states with equal disdain. We are in this together so "lighten up Francis."

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