Ari’s Pick: Fried Hand Pies at the Roadshow (Made by the Bakehouse)

The perfect pastry to take on the road!

Once upon a time, about 15 years ago, we started selling pimento cheese. Back then, only a handful of folks in Ann Arbor seemed to have heard of it. Anyone who grew up in the South was excited to see it on the Roadhouse menu. But most everyone else—Midwesterners like me—really had no idea what it was! Most gave the menu listing a quizzical look and very few orders ensued. That was then. Today, in 2024, pimento cheese is one of our biggest-selling items! We still serve it at the Roadhouse (where it started), the Deli has it, and the Creamery ships a whole lot of it to food stores and restaurants all over the country! Fried hand pies, I forecast, are today where pimento cheese was 15 years ago.

As I write, hardly anyone up here has heard of them, but by the time we arrive at our 2032 Vision, the fried-hand-pie business will be hoppin’! They are, without question, a special comfort food pastry with deep roots in the Mid-South. Many Southern cities have bakeries that make next to nothing other than hand pies!

Made by the Bakehouse, and sold at the Roadhouse, the fried hand pies have deep Southern roots. They could be carried more easily out to the fields, into the mines, or, in more modern times, to the factory. Fried hand pies worked well too in the winter months when the fresh fruit season had ended, and dried fruit was all that was available. They were already well-known around the time of the American Revolution. They were particularly popular in the middle of the 19th century, especially so in Appalachia. Rossi Anastopoulo writes in Saveur:

In a region where life could be hardscrabble and unforgiving, fried pies proved to be a culinary balm for busy women with a high burden of responsibility. Unlike cakes, which typically took all day to prepare and required expensive ingredients that might be hard to access, fried pies were a quick, affordable way to enjoy something sweet. 

To this day, they evoke emotional reactions in folks who grew up on them. Arkansas restaurateur Jennifer Jones shares, “These old recipes connect us to our past, help define our reality, almost tell us who we are. It’s a way to talk to each other about something tangible.” The Mountain Association says, “Every time we reference our aunt’s fried apple pie recipe that’s written on the back of an old-school credit card receipt from the service station where she used to work, we connect to our heritage—our collective past as mountain people, hewn from hard-scrabble times.” 

Fried pies are caringly hand-crafted with a traditional lard crust at the Bakehouse, filled right now with tart Michigan cherries. At the Roadhouse you can get a taste of this centuries-old tradition right by ordering one hot from the fryer for dessert after dinner (add some Creamery gelato too). And, we also have them cooked ahead and ready to grab from the Roadshow for breakfast—like eating a jelly donut, but far better suited to “dining” while driving. They keep well for a day or so after they’re fried (remember it was typical to take one with into the fields in the morning to eat for later in the day). 

Alternatively, you can pick one up with your morning coffee (try that Costa Rica Grand Reserve I wrote about last week) at the Roadshow and bring it to work for lunch!

Hungry for more?

Ari headshot
Ari Weinzweig
Co-Founding Partner at Zingerman's

In 1982, Ari Weinzweig, along with his partner Paul Saginaw, founded Zingerman’s Delicatessen with a $20,000 bank loan, a Russian History degree from the University of Michigan, 4 years of experience washing dishes, cooking and managing in restaurant kitchens and chutzpah from his hometown of Chicago. They opened the doors with 2 employees and a small selection of specialty foods and exceptional sandwiches.

Today, Zingerman’s Delicatessen is a nationally renowned food icon and the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses has grown to 10 businesses with over 750 employees and over $55 million in annual revenue. Aside from the Delicatessen, these businesses include Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Coffee Company, Creamery, Roadhouse, Mail Order, ZingTrain, Candy Manufactory, Cornman Farms and a Korean restaurant that is scheduled to open in 2016. No two businesses in the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses are alike but they all share the same Vision and Guiding Principles and deliver “The Zingerman’s Experience” with passion and commitment.

Besides being the Co-Founding Partner and being actively engaged in some aspect of the day-to-day operations and governance of nearly every business in the Zingerman’s Community, Ari Weinzweig is also a prolific writer. His most recent publications are the first 4 of his 6 book series Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading Series: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business (Part 1), Being a Better Leader (Part 2), Managing Ourselves (Part 3) and the newly-released Part 4, The Power of Beliefs in Business. Earlier books include the Zingerman’s Guides to Giving Great Service, Better Bacon, Good Eating, Good Olive Oil, Good Vinegar and Good Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Ari regularly travels across the country (and world) on behalf of ZingTrain, teaching organizations and businesses about Zingerman’s approach to business. He is a sought-after Keynote speaker, having delivered keynotes for Inc. 500, Microsoft Expo Spring Conference, Great Game of Business Gathering of Games, Positive Business Conference at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, American Society for Quality (ASQ), and the American Cheese Society. Most recently, Ari and Paul Saginaw were invited to address an audience of 50,000 for the University of Michigan 2015 Spring Commencement.

One of Zingerman’s Guiding Principles is being an active part of the community and in 1988, Zingerman’s was instrumental in the founding of Food Gatherers, a food rescue program that delivers over 5 million pounds of food each year to the hungry residents of Washtenaw county. Every year Zingerman’s donates 10% of its previous years profits to local community organizations and non-profits. Ari has served on the board of The Ark, the longest continuously operating folk music venue in America.

Over the decades, the Zingerman’s founding partners have consistently been the recipients of public recognition from a variety of diverse organizations. In April 1995, Ari and Paul were awarded the Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County’s first Humanitarian Award. In 2006, Ari was recognized as one of the “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” by the James Beard Foundation. In 2007, Ari and Paul were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Bon Appetit magazine for their work in the food industry. Ari was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Cheese Society in 2014. And Ari’s book, Building a Great Business was on Inc. magazine’s list of Best Books for Business Leaders.

Notwithstanding the awards, being engaged on a daily basis in the work of 10 businesses and 21 partners, writing books on business and in-depth articles on food for the Zingerman’s newsletter, Ari finds time to be a voracious reader. He acquires and reads more books than he can find room for. Ari might soon find himself the owner of the largest collection of Anarchist books in Ann Arbor outside the Labadie collection at the University of Michigan library!

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