Up North Blog

The Quest for the True Cherry Pie

Cherry Pie

Our True Cherry Pie. Simple and delicious.

They fly off the shelves as quickly as we can bake them. It’s become one of our signature products. But few people enjoying a slice of our True Cherry Pie on a balmy summer’s day know of the desperate 40-mile journey through the teeth of the worst blizzard of 2002 that led us to discover the secret.

We’d been making a Cherry Pie for years, and our customers were happy with it. Then we tasted something better: a pie far superior to the standard gooey cherry pie everyone, including us, was making.

The pie was the work of Mary Lyon, the wife of a cherry farmer. She had raised eight children and had baked for all the restaurants on the Old Mission Peninsula. Mary was also the National Cherry Pie Making Champion, a title she’d won so often that people stopped counting.

Her sublime creation rewired our thinking. This, we knew, was what our Cherry Pie should taste like!

So we started experimenting. We tried to follow Mary’s recipe. But we just couldn’t get it right. Our tapioca didn’t thicken. The sugar didn’t dissolve into the juice. Our betrayed customers brought their pies back and nearly threw them in our faces. One customer even asked us if the secret ingredient in our pie was sand from the beach!

Then Mary offered to teach us the art of crafting the perfect cherry pie. The offer was far too generous to refuse. It was so generous that even the thought of rescheduling when we saw the weather forecast didn’t enter our minds.

It had been snowing for hours, but the blizzard didn’t really strike until we were underway. Blinded by the swirling snow and with windshield-wipers rendered useless by caked-on ice, we slipped and skidded along the roads to Mary’s farmhouse 40 miles away.

Cherry Pie The perfection of cherries: a slice of cherry pie.

For five hours we sat in Mary’s kitchen at a red Formica table with stainless steel legs. Outside the farmhouse, cherry trees buckled in the ferocious wind and snow piled high. Mary talked and talked while we listened like two school kids cramming for a college entrance test. And we ate slice after slice of that yummy, yummy pie.

Finally, we had learned how to create our True Cherry Pie! Over the years since that freezing car trip, we’ve sold thousands of them. Each one is a testament to Mary Lyon and that desperate journey through the blizzard.

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