Of course I went to visit Pie Town, New Mexico
So often the names of towns are misleading. Kings County, where I live, is not just chockful of kings everywhere, at least in the traditional medieval sense. But Pie Town, New Mexico, a tiny blip of a town in central-southern New Mexico, is indeed a town that is wholely dedicated to pie. As in, that's basically all there is—three places that serve pie and that's more or less it. According to the US Census in 2010, 186 people live in Pie Town, but that feels pretty generous when you visit. It must include the ranches surrounding Pie Town, becuase the infrastructure of the town seems entirely structured to support pie tourism and very little else. There isn't even a gas station. Just pie purveyors as far as the eye can see, and then the long stretch of highway behind it.
There are conflicting reports as to exactly how Pie Town came to be. According to the ring-bound cookbook I bought at Pie-o-neer Pies, WWI veteran Clyde Norman came out to the stretch of remote land to mine for gold and silver. When his mining claim turned out to be unsuccessful, he opened a small store to supplement his income, selling kerosene, gasoline, and pies made from dried fruit. People passing by store started stopping in specifically for the pie, and a man named Harmon L. Craig bought out Norman's store and "became Pe Town's leading citizen. He owned the mercantile store, a Chevron service station and garage, a cafe, and a pinto bean warehouse called the beanery, which also acted as a roller skating rink when beans were not being harvested."
"When it came time to establish a post office for the town the Postmaster General thought Pie Town was not an appropriate name, but local citizens insisted that was the only acceptable name. So Pie Town stuck," the book explains. Since then the beanery/roller rink have apparently disappeared, but three different pie shops are there for all your pie needs. When I visited, because how could I resist, I stopped at the Good Pie Cafe, an establishment that offered "New Management and Great Prices!" A man in a cowboy hat with a large bowie knife in a holster in his belt served me a slice of new Mexico Apple Pie, the local specialty. It's apple pie with green chile and pinon nuts baked in. It's spicy, but not overwhelmingly so.
I also stopped in at Pie-o-neer pies, a competing pie establishment that has pie-themed art for sale as well as their slice offerings. I bought a slice of chocolate red chile chess pie for the road, plus an entire New Mexico Apple pie for the road which I buckled lovingly into the backseat of my rental car. Reader: the pies were good. Pie Town isn't close to much—it's about three hours from Albuquerque, not far from the Very Large Array and the Lightning Fields, but a long drive from any place that's considered a city—but if you're out there, stop for some pie. You won't be disappointed.