Red, white and blue pie
By tying existing pie products, such as red, white and blue fruit pies, to various holidays or seasons through the year, bakers can grab some extra sales.

Celebrating year-round

End-of-year holiday season is the obvious time of year when pies get a boost in sales. Traditional flavors such as pumpkin, pecan and sweet potato are intimately linked with Thanksgiving and Christmas. The opportunity for bakers is to find ways to entice consumers into purchasing pie all year round. While people associate pies with the end of the year, that certainly isn’t the only time people celebrate holidays or family events. Bakers are finding ways to engage these other holidays throughout the calendar.

“It’s not just thinking of the holidays as Christmas and Easter but also Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Fourth of July,” said Susan Bond, director of R.&D. for Legendary Baking. The bakery has diligently been linking flavors to these holidays and seasons, as are other pie bakers.

“A good example would be our Red, White and Blue pie,” Mr. Van Iwaarden said. “It’s a really good pie year round, but it’s oriented toward a holiday.”

For Mother’s Day, Legendary Baking played with chocolate and strawberry pies. Bakers also cash in on a chocolate pie at Easter. And of course, St. Patrick’s Day had to be tied to a green pie, in this case a Mint Brownie pie.

Rocky Mountain Pies also has gotten creative by linking flavors to seasons and holidays in the hopes of boosting sales throughout the year. “That’s really helped grow our business on the front side of the year,” Mr. Grandinetti said. Flavors inspired by summer-themed beverages such as raspberry lemonade and strawberry margarita tie nicely in with Cinco de Mayo. Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate, a flavor profile created to take advantage of consumers’ obsession with sea salt caramel, does well for Valentine’s Day and Easter.

S'mores pie
Other food trends, such as s'mores, can inspire new pies.

The bakery’s American Flag Box pie program continues to do well throughout the summer months. Rocky Mountain Pies offers retailers four different varieties in pie boxes decorated with the American flag. All four pies come with different price points and are launched in stores for Memorial Day and available until Labor Day. “This program helps retailers build their displays,” Mr. Grandinetti explained. “It helps them build their promotions. It decorates the area for them because of the flag box, and the display says patriotic. It says BBQ; it says Fourth of July; it says picnic; it says all of that, and it really creates good momentum for our customers that way.”

This year’s major flavor innovation for Rocky Mountain Pies was its two S’mores pies, a refrigerated variety and a shelf-stable one. Hoping to play off the s’mores craze, the bakery marketed them heavily as a summer pie offering.

“We try to create some excitement in our pie program, especially between January and September when nobody has a pie on the shopping list,” Mr. Granidetti said. “It’s more of an impulse buy, so we try to come up with ideas and products that, during that front side of the year, will grow the overall count toward the business that way, and it’s been successful for us.”