Family’s new pie company features ‘secret’ topping
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Nov 05, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 03:40 a.m. HST, Nov 05, 2014
Hawaiian Pie Co. represents a fresh new sprout of a three-generation family business that started in Kohala, on Hawaii island — a company revered for its pies, breads and other baked goods.
The original Holy’s Bakery, established by Yoshio and Miyako Hori in the 1930s, is on Holy Bakery Road in Kapaau. It is still open and is operated by family members.
The founders’ grandson Joel and his wife, Jan, are planning to open their new venture, the Hawaiian Pie Co., at 508 Waiakamilo Road in time for the holidays.
The new company is built on the family’s Big Island business but also on Joel and Jan’s plan to carry the company forward with a “global brand” so it can go beyond isle shores, Jan said.
Joel and Jan’s children Matthew, Lindsey and Andrew, and Joel’s father, Richard, and brother Richard Jr. all have a hand in the new, Oahu-based iteration of the family business.
In addition to “Grandpa Yoshio’s line” of traditional Holy’s Bakery style pies, Hawaiian Pie Co. will offer several different fruit pies with the Oahu Hori family’s proprietary Hawaiian topping that is piped on, using a pastry bag.
What’s in the Hawaiian topping?
“It’s a secret,” Joel said, but he added that family and friends differ on the degree of doneness to which they like the topping cooked. The darker it is, the crunchier and chewier it is, “like the edges of butter mochi,” Joel said.
Those piped-on secret ingredients (which seem to include coconut, by the way) will top fillings including strawberry guava, pineapple, passion-pear (passion fruit-infused pear), peach, mango, coconut, and coconut-lychee.
As with Holy’s Bakery double-crusted pies, the Hawaiian Pie Co. pies with Hawaiian topping will be sold frozen, ready to take and bake.
However, once its bakery and storefront opens on Waiakamilo Road, customers will find much more than just the standard size pies, including individually sized 4-inch pies, possibly pie by the slice, and eventually, a line of savory pies, such as a beef stew pie and possibly a turkey pot pie that incorporates mashed potatoes, which is standard Hori family Thanksgiving leftovers fare.
Hearing its description caused your columnist’s jaw to drop, mouth to salivate and mind to temporarily swim in thoughts of thick, rich gravy.
There are a few stories about how the Hori family bakery became known as Holy’s, Joel said. One indicates his grandfather was ordering packaging for his new business from a mainland company via phone, and the order-taker misunderstood the family’s last name.
Another speaks to the ankh symbol, a cross with a loop on top, that was part of the original company’s branding, which some people viewed as holy.
Joel is a Kohala High School alumnus who moved to Oahu with his father, Richard, to expand the family business in 1979.
Holy Bakery (Manoa) Inc. was established as a way to maximize statewide distribution.
It closed about 16 years ago. In its heyday, Joel remembers helping his father run the business, baking pies, cakes and cookies and wholesaling to businesses from “mom-and-pops to hotels.”
One reason for establishing the Manoa bakery was that about “35 percent” of items shipped via barge from the Big Island would get damaged, Joel said. “We had to eat that,” meaning, endure the financial losses, as opposed to stuffing their faces with nonsaleable baked goods.
The Oahu-based bakery provided a more centralized distribution point for the company’s products, and from Manoa it later moved to Kalihi-Palama, adjacent to the old Yick Lung building on Dillingham Boulevard.
The operation produced 3,000 to 4,000 pies a week for the wholesale market, Joel said.
Holy’s pies on the Big Island are sold frozen at retail, made to take and bake, and for decades people have raved about them, especially the buttered apple pie.
It is that sort of loyal following that the Horis are hoping to build with the Hawaiian Pie Co. From their bakery and storefront, to be decorated with historical pictures of the original family bakery, they hope to wholesale their products to the broader retail market.
Also, market research and personal experience have shown that their pies, while still frozen, can be hand-carried on airplanes, making the omiyage market a natural.
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