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The World’s Best Pies
These are the best pies in the world! And if you don’t believe me, just take a look at the mountains of ribbons and awards from the American Pie Council, the Indiana State Fair and baking contests across the Midwest. Lisa Sparks has won so many awards that you can barely see her smiling face behind all of those honors.
When are the internet gods going to create scratch and sniff app? That’s what we need right now. When you walk in the front door of Lisa’s, you are stopped in your tracks by the aroma. Think of all of your favorite smells from your own kitchen, your mom and grandma’s kitchens, holidays and birthdays and family gatherings, and that’s what you get when you walk in the door at Lisa’s Pie Shop.
The funny thing about Lisa — and she is an adorable woman to have a conversation and laugh with — she doesn’t like pies. She never tastes the pies she bakes and admits that her business model does not include a count of the number of pies she sells each day.
Making the World’s Best Pies
When Lisa married Jim Sparks in 1982, she admits she was not a very good baker. Jim’s mother was, so Lisa did her best, but knew she was falling short. Then one day, a friend’s mother gave her a few tips that changed the course of her life and most certainly the waistline of those living in central Indiana.
One tip was to use tapioca as a thickening in berry pies. The other tip concerns a few secret ingredients to make pie crust so yummy that, well, you win all of the awards seen above.
At the time, Lisa was working in a factory that painted bumpers for the Chevy Prisma. She had been there five years and was looking for something more to challenge her mind and fulfill her spirit.
She often baked pies for her co-workers. One fall, those co-workers brought her a bag of apples from an area orchard. That bag of free apples came with an entry into the orchard’s pie baking contest.
It was the first time Lisa had entered a baking contest, so imagine her surprise that out of 154 entries, her Dutch Apple Pie was named Grand Champion. She started baking pies for the youth baseball team her husband coached, just to gain more feedback. Where was she when I was sitting on the sidelines of my son’s sporting events!?!
Then, at age 29, Lisa was diagnosed with cancer and almost died from post-operative bleeding. That’s the kind of thing that would make any of us re-evaluate our limited time on this earth. With $254 in her pocket, Lisa and her father made a road trip to Coloma, Michigan to buy cherries. Lisa’s Pies was born.
Award Winning Pie Shop In Indiana
Fast forward a few years, past baking pies at home and selling to local restaurants, to a commercial space where she sold to area grocery stores, and finally in 2001, Lisa’s Pie Shop opening on Highway 31.
She still makes road trips to Michigan during cherry season and loves picking from local orchards when she has time. But who has time? On any given day, she and her staff of two make about 30 different kinds of pie, all from scratch, all by hand. On Saturdays, they make specialty pies, depending on the season and her whims.
Then there are the cream cheese-filled chocolate cupcakes, Mexican wedding cookies, some sweet breads and a remarkable treat called Pie in a Jar. Lots of places sell pie filling, but Lisa’s Pie in a Jar is the whole pie, award-winning crust and all.
Every year, she organizes efforts to send boxes of her Pie In a Jar to U.S. military members fighting in Afghanistan and other combat locations.
Lisa’s Pie Shop is open Tuesday through Saturday, but don’t come in with a credit or debit card. Cold hard cash and service with a smile is how they do business here. And if you tell Lisa that you found out about her from a MojoTraveler, she’ll come around from behind that counter and give you a big hug, the best part of any visit to Indiana.