Pies for every season

by Charlotte Atchley
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In a category plagued by stagnation and a lack of new ideas, Rocky Mountain Pies, Salt Lake City, intends to inject excitement into the frozen pie market with its new Sugar House line. Using adventurous flavor profiles and an aggressive marketing campaign, Mark Grandinetti, the company’s president, hopes to capture the imagination and taste buds of America’s younger consumers.

“We need to train a new generation of pie eaters,” he said. “We need to keep these pie traditions alive with some excitement, and we can do that with our flavor profiles and the way we package.”

While the company does use brightly colored packaging to set Sugar House apart from competitors, the primary tools Rocky Mountain Pies will use to stir up excitement are the pies themselves. Interesting flavors such as the trendy Sea Salt Caramel French Silk pie and handmade touches like hand-tied lattice pastry crusts set Sugar House apart from competitors. The company will get the word out to consumers through 13 ­holiday-centric promotions with pies to match. For example, the company will promote the Red, White & Blue Lattice, a pie made with cherries, apples and blueberries, for Memorial Day, Labor Day and the Fourth of July. 

Rocky Mountain Pies has served in-store bakeries nationwide since 2007, but for years, according to the company, its supermarket customers have asked for frozen pies to compete alongside Marie Callender’s and Sara Lee. Last July, Mr. Grandinetti granted their wish by developing a brand, enticing flavors, packaging and a story. From a list of 100 names, Sugar House was the one the company kept coming back to, a name shared by a small community in Salt Lake City that was home to a sugar beet mill in the 1850s. Now the neighborhood is known for its scenic park and ­eclectic businesses. 

“If you’re from Utah, the name Sugar House means a lot because the town is a kind of gathering place,” Mr. Grandinetti said.

People don’t have to be from Utah to appreciate the Sugar House brand, however. The name practically screams dessert, a trait Rocky Mountain Pies may use to further advantage in the future, according to Mr. Grandinetti. “We’re thinking about taking the name Sugar House and make not only pies but also cookies or eclairs. It fits it all.”

In October, the pies hit supermarket shelves in Utah and other Mountain States. By the end of the year, with only one distribution company carrying the pies, Sugar House brought in more than $500,000 in sales. In the first quarter 2013, Mr. Grandinetti plans to ­expand Sugar House to the Southwest and then strategically move across the US.

“Everywhere I go, I show this line to my existing customers, and they’re very excited about it,” Mr. Grandinetti said. “They tell me, ‘When you’re ready, we’re ready.’”      

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