Until two weeks ago, I’d never eaten a Hubig’s pie. Since the 2019 comeback announcement, the New Orleans fervor had me as excited as someone who grew up with it. Is there such a thing as a phantom craving?

Hold that thought.

Not long after that original announcement, my husband Mark and I made a trip home to Northern Kentucky to visit family. After meeting up with my aunts near their home in Cincinnati, Ohio’s Northside neighborhood, we took their recommendation to grab a to-go order at a funky little eatery called the Kitchen Factory that has a handy walk-up window. As we ambled up to the window chit chatting, Mark uttered an astonished, “what the hell?” and pointed at the window.

Propped against it was a ceramic tile with a yellow, red and blue graphic featuring Savory Simon and Hubig’s splashed across his belly.

Haunted by Hubig’s
Hubig’s pie tile at Kitchen Factory in Cincinnati, Ohio’s Northside neighborhood. Photo by Susan Pelle. 

At first, we assumed the owner or a staffer was a former New Orleanian or simply a fan of the city or Hubig’s. Later, after some Google sleuthing, we were slightly gob smacked to learn that Hubig’s started in Cincinnati. From hubig’s.com:

Simon Hubig was a real man, born in 1860 of German immigrant parents. As the story goes, his father died young and he and his brothers helped their mother start and grow a baking business. He was industrious and successful, and in his 30s he opened the Simon Hubig Baking Company in Cincinnati, [Ohio]. He patented machinery and was said to have had the greatest output of all bakeries in the United States. Then, in 1918, he established the Simon Hubig Company in Ft. Worth, Texas. In the 1950s, Drew’s grandfather Otto Ramsey worked for and was able to buy into the New Orleans location of the then-chain bakery which had opened in 1921. The New Orleans location was the only one to survive the Depression and World Wars. Drew’s father, Toby Ramsey, joined the company in the 60s, and Toby’s son Drew Ramsey in the 90s. Drew is the 3rd generation of the Ramseys to own and operate Hubig’s.

If you’ve been reading “Bon Vivant” for a while, you know I was born and raised in Northern Kentucky. It is just across one of the several bridges that pop you over the Ohio River to Cincinnati in a flash. Many joke that Northern Kentucky is a suburb of Cincinnati, or the Kentucky side of Cincy.

Meanwhile, it isn’t surprising that the Simon Hubig’s parents were German immigrants. The area is quite German in ancestry (as am I on both sides, as evidenced by my own family tree), with a neighborhood in downtown Cincinnati called Over the Rhine, and one across the river in Covington, Kentucky called Mainstrasse Village. Both places also host robust Octoberfest celebrations, with the one in Cincinnati holding the title of the largest in the United States.

(Related side note: My husband and I lived in Texas for about 12 years, albeit Austin and Houston, not Ft. Worth. So, we’ve unknowingly followed some sort of Hubig’s heritage trail all our lives.)  

All of this to say, I’m wondering if maybe my grandparents — all of whom lived and worked in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati — ate some of those pies at some point and that is why I have phantom cravings! On that note, prior to tasting any of them, I told everyone in my Facebook feed four years ago about my phantom craving theory and that my favorite flavors are apple or sweet potato, probably.

I’m pleased to report that two weeks ago, after countless fruit (pie) less searches, Mark came home from running errands and surprised me with one lemon and one apple Hubig’s pie. We heated them in the toaster oven, split them in half and swapped so we could sample each one.

I was right, my favorite is apple.

 

Have you ever had a phantom craving? Have you scored a Hubig’s pie yet? Email me at melanie@myneworleans.com.