Winston-Salem is iconic for many reasons: R.J. Reynolds, Old Salem, and of course, Krispy Kreme and Texas Pete. In comparison to those food giants, one Winston-Salem staple has remained fairly unchanged for over half a century, B & G Pies.
“People stop by [the bakery] on their way to Florida, I ship these things to Korea, I supply the army bases, there’s a picture of a wrapper in the road in Afghanistan, I’m constantly flooded with emails and calls from people wanting a B & G pie,” said the current owner, Shannon Wilson. Seven years ago she purchased the business as an investment and rightly soit seems Winston-Salem has a knack for inventing internationally known food products. Although today B & G Pies cross oceans and borders, its beginnings are very humble.
G.M. Griffin was a Navy mechanic with a baking hobby. He made pies on his brother-in-law’s back porch. Word spread quickly of Griffin’s homemade fried pie deliciousness and he figured out he had the ingredients for a successful business. The baker partnered with his cousin, Alton Bodenheimer and they set business on South Marshall Street in Winston-Salem in 1949.
So what exactly goes into making a famous B & G pie? For over 67 years, neither the recipe nor process has changed. Each pie is singlehandedly rolled and filled. They’re individually wrapped in simple yet noticeable packaging indicating which flavor is inside — apple, peach, lemon, chocolate or cherry.
“People don’t realize they’re still handmade and hand rolled, everything is made from scratch including the filling. There’s not a machine in our bakery except for the wrapping machine,” said Wilson. The fried pie generates roughly half a million per year in sales across five states. While made in Winston-Salem, Wilson said one struggle is taking the reigns in hometown sales — that it is almost easier to find a B & G Pie in Puerto Rico than it is Winston-Salem.
While Wilson strives to create more hometown appreciation, internationally B & G Pies are beloved-people are even buried with these things. While many businesses take off and somewhat lose their identity, B & G has amazingly maintained character, essence, and popularity. How? Wilson said, “It really is a throwback, it floods back childhood memories, people say it tastes just like their grandmother’s pie.”
Wilson said the fried pie has survived every diet and health fad known to man. She is interested in pursuing future production with a more health-conscious option but stays true to her motto that “she sells sugar.”
B & G recently moved to a new location at 895 Northwest Blvd in Winston-Salem. Visitors can watch the ladies behind the glass hand roll each pie, and even take a few home for friends and family. If fried pie isn’t your go-to, the company has also seen success with their D-Lish Treat, a no-bake, hand-dipped dessert consisting of oatmeal, chocolate and peanut butter.