Local Hoard's Bakery is putting out hundreds of pies -- from pumpkin to pecan, key lime, cherry, apple and more this holiday season -- to the delight of local pie fans.
The local business got its start making pies in 2005, according Erin Hoard, pie-maker-in-chief and co-owner of Hoard's Pies. Hoard estimated she makes 500 pies for Thanksgiving customers alone, not counting wholesale orders from HyVee, her biggest seller.
But all these pies would never have arrived without a surprising phone call from the pie maker's husband.
"I was living in Italy and my husband - my boyfriend at the time - just working a normal job, called me up and said, 'Hey, I quit my job today. I decided I'm going to raise chickens.'"
Erin asked him if he was ok.
"We live on a farm, but we're not really farmers," she laughed.
"So I came home about five months later and he had these chicks and chickens. He was doing the whole thing and selling the eggs at the farmers market. I just thought he was insane."
The couple lived on the Hoard organic Christmas tree family farm outside of Iowa City that also had a small orchard. Erin decided to pick the apples to sell at the farmers market alongside her husband's eggs.
"I didn't sell that many of them, so I thought, 'What can I do with these apples?'" she said.
A pie business was born.
"I had made one apple pie, like 10 years before," she said. "So I called up my granny - I didn't know what I was doing. She's 95 now and 80-something at the time. So she told me (how to do it) over the phone, and I started making them and they sold like crazy down at the farmers market."
Now, Erin, along with a couple members of the Hoard family, make a variety of pies to sell at , Riverside Casino, the and the Cedar Rapids farmers market. All are made with locally grown eggs and homemade crusts; even the pumpkin in the pumpkin pie is locally grown.
For a $10, Hoard will deliver her pies - or with an order of three or more the delivery fee is free. Hoard's Pies come in two sizes, small, 6-inch, for $5.99; and a large, 10-inch-deep dish for $15.99 on sale (at Hy-Vee).
"They're so cute, the little ones," she said of her pies. "I like making those because they're adorable."
Since they started a family, the chickens that flew the coop a few years ago due to the rising price of organic corn feed, may return; but just for fun.
"I don't really miss the chickens, but my husband would really love that," she said. "Now that we have little kids - my son is three and my daughter is two - he's talking me into it now."
Erin will be onhand from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Hy-Vee No. 2 at Muscatine and First avenues, giving samples of her pecan and apple pie.
Call 319-679-4545 or 319-325-5645 to order or for more information.