In the Marigny of New Orleans, on my friend Miriam’s kitchen wall, hangs a picture frame containing one crinkled white wax-paper wrapper. The fat chef we call “Savory Simon” stands staunch in the center of it, twirling a pie on the tips of his fingers, his toque a mushroom cloud the color of lemon curd. The word Hubig’s scrawls across his belly, over what was once the belly of the hand pie sealed inside.
Seven years ago, Miriam opened that wrapper and bit through the sugar-slicked thick fried crust into the jammy peach middle—the last Hubig’s pie she expected ever to eat.
That morning—Friday, July 27, 2012—a fire had broken out in the fry room at the Hubig’s Pies factory on Dauphine Street. Since 1921, when Fort Worth baker Simon Hubig opened a chain of shops across the South, the sweet aromas of pie had emanated from that white brick building. Now, it just smelled like smoke. As the fire-fighters battled the five-alarm blaze, legend has it, they began to cry. Though the New Orleans factory had been the only of Hubig’s plants to survive the Depression, even the tears of the firemen couldn’t save it now. The factory burned to the ground.
As news of the fire spread across the city, people dashed into drugstores, hardware stores, gas stations, and grocery stores and stocked up on Hubig’s pies. My dad snagged two, which he doled out in small slices for days. Over the coming years, plans to rebuild the factory would fail to yield fruit, and, until last Thursday, we believed that these pies—stocked in freezers or long since scarfed down—were the last we’d ever eat.