by Ian McNulty
The fire that destroyed the Hubig’s Pie facility last month has inspired a profusion of new T-shirts benefiting the bakery’s rebuilding efforts (see entries from Fleuty Girl and Dirty Coast), it’s triggered a run on other official Hubig’s merchandise and it’s even brought us a tribute cocktail from Chris Hannah, bartender at Arnaud’s French 75.
It has also ignited deep cravings around town for the iconic pies, which have been leading to some manic scenes at the counter of Bud’s Broiler locations around the area.
“People come in here shakin’ like bacon, looking for the pies,” says Shannon McGuire, owner of the Bud’s Broiler franchise on City Park Avenue. “People are addicted to Hubig’s Pies and they’re calling all day, saying ‘I hear you have pies, do you have pies?’”
They do have pies. They’re not Hubig’s Pies, but these Bud’s Broiler desserts do bear a striking resemblance to the more famous New Orleans staple. They also have their own long history, their own cult following and their own recent recovery tale.
Like Hubig’s, the Bud’s pie is an oblong, fried pie with a sweet crust fully encasing its fruit filling. They’re served hot from the fryer, with an optional (and completely, wonderfully excessive) dusting of powdered sugar. The pies come in three flavors: cherry, peach and apple. They cost about two bucks.
Bud’s Broiler has been around since 1952 (the City Park Avenue location was its first restaurant). The pies have been the signature dessert since 1962, though they did spend some time out of circulation recently. Like other supplies for the Bud’s Broiler menu, the pies are made at a central commissary and then distributed to the company’s franchisees around the area, explains Joe Catalano, owner of the Bud’s Broiler company.
Before Hurricane Katrina, this commissary had been located on Banks Street in Mid-City, but it was wrecked by flooding after the levee failures. It later reopened in a new location in Kenner, but one lingering casualty was the pie-making equipment. That was remedied only in 2010, Catalano says, when after a five-year hiatus they finally returned to the Bud’s menu.
“This year makes 50 years that they’ve been around,” Catalano notes.
The Hubig’s Pie you’d grab off the rack at the grocery or the hardware store is a different product and fills a different niche than the hot pie you wait for at the counter of a Bud’s Broiler, and nothing can really replace the strong attachment people feel to Hubig's. But should the jones grow too strong before Hubig’s Pies return, at least the Bud’s pie can serves as a safety valve of sorts.