Did you know that 90 percent of Americans agree that a slice of pie represents one of the simple pleasures in life? The American Pie Council also reports that for nearly 50 percent of Americans, the word “comforting” comes to mind when they think of pie, and some 20 percent of them have eaten an entire pie by themselves.
The popularity of pie is without question, and the upcoming holiday season is a wonderful time to capitalize on this all-American dessert.
So when is a good time to start thinking about holiday pies?
According to Bobby Jucker, fifth generation baker and co-owner of Three Brothers Bakery in Houston, Texas, “Customers looking for corporate gifts start shopping in July and August. Our other customers start their holiday pie shopping in October.”
Don’t forget the post-Christmas/pre-New Year’s Eve window, too. Customers looking to keep the festivities alive between the two holidays will appreciate an assortment of pies from which to choose.
When done right, holiday pie offerings have the potential to drastically boost your end-of-year sales. “The last quarter of the year is very profitable for Three Brothers Bakery,” Jucker said. “Our December profits are usually double what we do any other month, and we continue to grow.”
Regarding pies specifically, Jucker said, “In 2010, just after our Country Living accolade, we sold about 200 pies. In 2016, we'll sell about 7,000 pies and will have filled up a FedEx Bobtail about 4 to 5 times.”
To maximize your earnings potential, think beyond physical pies, too. For example, pie subscriptions, in which customers sign up a friend to receive a pie a month for a pre-determined number of months, make great holiday gifts!
Every market is different, but some holiday pie trends are likely to be hits nationwide.
“We’re really excited about our Gingerbread pie,” Jucker said. “It features a gingerbread crust with a gingerbread spice cake, covered in cream cheese icing and topped with our mini gingerbread men. Our Pumpecapple Piecake is also a holiday favorite. The three layers each have a cake with pie baked into it; a pumpkin pie baked into a pumpkin spice cake, then a pecan pie (or chocolate pecan pie) baked into a chocolate cake, and our apple pie baked into a spice cake. It’s all then topped with cream cheese icing, a caramel drizzle, and pecan pieces.”
Individual pie pops are a big holiday success at Pie Corps in Brooklyn, New York. They make great stocking stuffers and can also add a decorative, delicious touch at dinner party place settings.
Pie Corps also offers a wide range of savory pies, sure to warm customers’ bellies during the often cold holiday weather. Savory Pielettes, which are two-bite pies that make a great finger food, light lunch, or kid’s snack, are available in roasted chicken pot pie, roasted onion and goat cheese with fresh thyme, smoked ham and cheese, and three cheese and rosemary.
Lastly, adding some craft beers to your recipes promises to make your pies the talk of the holiday table.
Consider the following pairings:
• Apple pie with sour beer or Saison
• Pecan pie with wood-aged beer
• Pumpkin pie with pumpkin or spiced beer
• Sweet potato pie with a winter seasonal or bourbon barrel-aged beer
For even more holiday pie ideas, check out this Holiday Pie Flavor Inspiration graphic:
Three Brothers Bakery employs numerous methods to promote their holiday pies. Jucker said they do all of the following:
• Share photos on their social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest)
• Work with their PR team to garner local press features about the pies to excite guests in the Houston area and beyond
• Write a weekly blog post feature about their pies during the holiday season
• Incorporate their pies into the weekly Three Brothers Bakery newsletter during the holiday season
According to an article in USA Today, the simple act of offering limited-time flavors is also a proven way to attract customers throughout the year, especially during the holidays. And to increase foot traffic in your bakery, consider offering pie-making classes throughout the last few months of the year.
Terminology Cheat Sheet
Pie: A sweet or savory pastry item with a crust and filling. It can have just a bottom crust (single crust) or a top and bottom crust (double-crusted), and the filling is usually a cream, fruit, vegetable, or meat.
Deep Dish Pie: A pie baked in a deep-dish pie pan.
Tart: Similar to, but thinner than a pie. A tart is typically baked in a pan that is fluted around the edges, and it can be square, round, or rectangular in shape.
Flan: Either an inverted egg-based baked custard with a caramel syrup, or a single-crust tart. The latter can be either savory or sweet.
Free-form Pie or Tart: A dessert in which the pastry dough is rolled out and transferred to a flat baking pan rather than a pie tin. The center is filled, and the edges are folded around it.
Croustade (or Crostata): Basically anything sweet or savory in an “edible container,” such as a hollowed roll or empty pastry shell. Croustades are often individual-sized but can be larger.
Galette: When prepared sweet, either a round, flat dessert made with crust and a filling, or a round, flat cookie similar to shortbread.
Turnover: Individual dessert made with pastry dough and a spoonful or two of filling. The dough is folded over, and the edges are crimped or pressed to seal. The turnover is then either baked or fried.
Fried Pie: Similar to a turnover, but the filling is generally fruit and pie dough is always used. After frying, the dessert is drained and dusted with confectioner’s sugar.
Upside-down Pie: A fruit filling is placed on the bottom of a pan, and a pie crust is placed on top. The whole thing is baked and then served inverted (fruit on top) on a plate.
Angel Pie: Meringue is spread thickly in a pie pan and baked until crisp and dried. Fresh fruit filling is then spooned into the center and served immediately.