It’s been over 10 years since most New Orleans residents have tasted the frosty crust and sweet, fruity filling of a Hubig pie. Ten years after hearing the familiar crinkle of this unique wrapper, since the comforting treats were readily available at gas stations and local grocery stores.
It feels like an eternity to be without the iconic local snack, but for the company that has hand-pumped pies from its Faubourg Marigny factory for nearly a century, a decade is just a blip in the whole picture.
Hubig’s said this week it was starting to hire workers, hoping to reopen for the first time since a 2012 fire destroyed its property. The opening date is uncertain, but Hubig’s past is not.
1860: Simon Hubig was born in Newport, Kentucky, near Cincinnati, Ohio. A few years later, shortly after his father’s death, Hubig and his family started a small bread-making business for housewives in their neighborhood. His industriousness enabled him to become a bakery foreman at the age of 15.
1890: Hubig, 30, opens Hubig Pie and Baking Co. in Cincinnati. Using its patented machines, the company grew over the next two decades to produce about 30,000 pies a day, “output greater than any other bakery in the United States”, according to historian Frederic Goss, author from “Cincinnati, the Queen City,” published in 1912. Hubig also developed crates and bags that enabled him to ship pies long distances.
1910: The United States strikes a deal with Hubig to build a pie factory in Central America, an effort to feed workers digging the Panama Canal.
1912: Hubig retires and sells his business to FO Stone Baking Co.
1918: Hubig comes out of retirement to open a bakery in Fort Worth, Texas, making pies for soldiers stationed at Camp Bowie near the end of World War I. Its mechanized bakery produces 600 pies an hour. A March 3, 1918 headline in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper read, “Famous Pie Maker Opens Electric Pie Foundry in Town.” The Fort Worth location is followed by additional bakeries in Houston, San Antonio and Dallas.
1921: In an effort to expand nationally, Hubig rents a building in the 2400 block of Dauphine Street in New Orleans and soon begins producing pies there. Years later, the Marigny site is the only Hubig to have survived the Great Depression.
1924: The Times-Picayune reports that Hubig is buying the Rue Dauphine location for $16,000.
1926: Nicknamed “Simon the Pieman”, Hubig dies at 66.
1928: The Times-Picayune ran an advertisement announcing the seventh anniversary of Hubig’s Pies in New Orleans. In the ad, the company credits “New Orleans, known around the world as a city of connoisseurs of good food” for consuming 25 million pies (nearly 10,000 a day) in seven years.
1943: Henry Barrett takes over as head of the New Orleans bakery and struggles through World War II, using sugar rations from employees and his family to keep the business afloat. In the post-war years, the bakery produced strawberry shortcakes and other small cakes, as well as baked and fried pies. Barrett eventually partnered with Otto Ramsey Sr., and in the 1950s they dropped other products to focus exclusively on pies.
1990s: Grocery stores are beginning to develop in-store bakeries, often baking their own pies and increasing competition for Hubig’s. In response, Hubig’s began to push and increase production of fried pies, marketing them as a unique alternative to the usual baked treats.
2005: After Hurricane Katrina and its levee failures devastated New Orleans, Hubig’s lacks the staff to continue frying and baking pies. The company is abandoning baked pies entirely and focusing on frying. Many locals are comforted by the return of the beloved snack.
2011: Hubig’s Pies, now a New Orleans staple, produces 28,000 fried pies a day. It is owned by Otto Ramsey Jr. and Lamar Bowman, nephew of Henry Barrett.
2012: On July 27, shortly before 4:30 am, a 5-alarm fire broke out in the Marigny d’Hubig building. The fire breaks out in the fryer room, where grease and oil fuel the blaze, destroying the building. Andrew Ramsey, visibly upset looking across the street, swears, “We’ll be back.” In December, Hubig’s sued the Kenner company that created and maintained its fire suppression system. The suit is ultimately resolved in Hubig’s favor.
2013: The New Orleans City Council approves a request to build a new pie factory. The plans later fail.
2017: Bakers Row Condos, townhouses built where Hubig’s factory once stood, are erected and put on the market.
2019: Louisiana’s economic development agency approves Hubig’s Pies for a small business loan guarantee program, prompting Governor John Bel Edwards’ office to issue a press release celebrating the company’s return.
2020: Ramsey announces plans to build a new factory at a warehouse in Elmwood just off Jefferson Highway near the Huey P. Long Bridge. “We have the installation, we get the equipment, we have the know-how. We’re putting the band back together,” Ramsey says. The news is exciting, but pie lovers are tired of the wait.
2022: On July 27, the 10th anniversary of the fire that closed Hubig’s Pies, the family owners reaffirm their intention to resume operations but refuse to provide a timetable. In November, job postings for production workers and delivery drivers at Hubig’s send New Orleans into an excited but confused frenzy. Ramsey confirms that he hopes to hire about ten people for the production, people who will end up making the pies. He once again refuses to predict when the pies might hit store shelves. But among those deprived of the now legendary pies, any sign of progress counts.
Waiting for those fucking Hubigs pies like… pic.twitter.com/qcsOCWRGUD
— Plump Tuesday (@KatejoYo) November 3, 2022