Is Pie the New Cupcake?
In December of last year, the Betty Crocker blog posited that pie would be a hot trend in 2011. In January of this year, Bonny Wolf at NPR noted that trend-spotters were calling pie the food of the year, and later that month, the Los Angeles Times printed an article about the recent focus on pies as the “in” dessert among those “in the know” for food trends. After several years of cupcake mania, ranging from upscale bakeries exclusively devoted to pricey cupcakes to the Food Network show, Cupcake Wars, consumers are beginning to look for options for their comfort food. Pie is now replacing cake at weddings, pie shooters are sold in shot glasses, and bakeries are experimenting not only with different flavors but also different sizes. Pies are both sweet and savory, filled with fruit, custards, crèmes, vegetables, and meats (don’t forget that pizza started out as a tomato pie when it was first introduced to the U.S.)
Taking advantage of this trend is Tootie Pie Company, a publicly-held baking company that began in the early 1980s in a widow’s kitchen and last year recorded revenue of almost $2,000,000 from the sale of its products, a 20% increase over the previous year. The company sells through three channels: retail, corporate, and wholesale. Retail sales are made through phone orders, e-commerce, and walk-in customers at their HQ storefront, as well as through its Tootie Pie Gourmet Cafes. The company’s corporate market comprises businesses that purchase the pies as appreciation gifts for customers and employees, and the wholesale business puts Tootie Pies into restaurant kitchens via foodservice distributors such as Sysco and Ben E. Keith. Retail sales account for 39% of the company’s revenue, corporate is 13%, and wholesale operations represent 48%.
The company touts the quality of its products and the ingredients used. Each pie is individually handmade, and pies are baked in batches based on consumer demand. The pies are priced at $35 for the whole pie, and at six pounds, the apple pie is plenty big enough to share.
The newest growth channel for Tootie Pie is its five-unit chain of small cafes. In addition to its iconic pies, the café menu includes bagels, soups, sandwiches, paninis, and salads. Last summer, the company launched a coffee and tea line and an expanded dessert menu that includes such goodies as Tootie Pie on a Stick. All five locations are in Texas, as are the two cafes that will be opening later this year.
Linda Helman, Senior Editor
Linda has worked at Chain Store Guide for twelve years. Prior to that, Linda worked as a research economist for the federal government, as an analyst for a management consulting firm and as a freelance writer. Please contact her if you have questions or comments.