Field's Pies Celebrating 97 Years in Pauls Valley
PAULS VALLEY, Oklahoma - On a two-lane road, tucked away within Pauls Valley, a chorus of confection begins at Field's Pies.
“The most challenging to me is mixing the dough in the machine," said Shirl Rickert, who works at Field's Pies
17,000 plugs of dough make it down the line where 30 employees work to make the pecan pie perfection. Only the best ingredients will do.
“We just make it like you would at home,” said Chris Field, President of Field's Pies.
It's just on a bigger scale. Chris describes the pecan hopper in their facility where the pecans drop in each pie shell. About 40 pie shells come through there every minute. In all about 3,200 pecans, native to Oklahoma, are in these pies every day. Combine that with a symphony of syrup, about 10,000 pounds of it, and thousands of pounds of flour, eggs and cane sugar, and you've got quite the bakery.
"It's 100-foot long. It holds 1,500 pies at one time. We have them coming in this end, they put the filling in and cook for almost an hour,” Field said.
Field then shows us the 45-minute mark of the cook where the pies are puffing up and getting that golden color. After the pies get the proper baking time, it's time for the pies to cool off on a massive cooling rack.
"It's just like sitting them in a window like your grandmother used to do," Field said. "There's two of these. One is on the other side. This one goes up as they're cooling and the other one goes down. It brings it back to room temperature. If you can't blast freeze the pecan pie, it will drop in the middle, so this is just natural cooling."
Four hours later, the pies are boxed and shipped. The delivery trucks are full this time of year. 70% of the company's yearly sales belong to the holidays.
"Thanksgiving and Christmas are big. Everybody has to have a pecan pie in Oklahoma," Field said.
Just like the right ingredients, you have to have the right people like Shirl Rickert.
"I enjoy what I do, and I enjoy working for the Field's," Rickert said.
Even though some days have their "I Love Lucy" moments, Shirl said they can still laugh. She said, "We have our days. If something happens with a machine or whatever, we have fun and still work."
Which is what Chris Field and his family have been doing for decades.
"We have been here for a while. 97 years in Pauls Valley,” Field said.
It all started with Chris' grandmother Hazelle.
“She used to make these pies in her kitchen and then took them to the restaurant we had downtown,” Filed said.
Soon word got out. Hazelle started making pies for all the restaurants in town before eventually delivering them across the state.
"We had 13 trucks delivering fresh pies to all 77 counties in Oklahoma," Field said.
By 1961, business was so busy that they started freezing the pies. The pies have been in the frozen food section of your grocery store ever since.
As for the recipe, it's Hazelle's secret that has been with the family for three generations and you can tell in the taste. That's what keeps this Oklahoma-owned company in business.
"I'll keep making them a great pecan pie if they'll just keep buying them,” Field said.
By the way, they also make German Chocolate and Lemon pies.