, Derry, New Hampshire

February 27, 2014

Pie bakers make the grade at Mack's contest

Bakers, tasters applaud return of Mack's apple pie contest

By Julie Huss

---- — LONDONDERRY — May the best pies win, and they did.

According to a team of judges, winners of the Mack’s Apples pie contest had just the right stuff for what makes the perfect pie.

About 40 pies were entered in the popular contest in both traditional and nontraditional categories.

Some bakers entered both categories, some entered just one. Some entrants were veterans and other were newcomers, but all were hoping to win a ribbon for their baking talents.

The contest had been a Mack’s staple for many years, but was on hiatus in recent years, due to a smaller apple crop, Mack’s staff said.

This year, the contest was back and it drew a crowd.

Andy Mack Jr. did the emcee honors, calling the contest a “little piece of Americana.”

“We always see some beautiful pies up and down on the table,” Mack said.

Longtime Londonderry maple producer Hank Peterson is a fixture at the pie contests and offered some rules for judges in this year’s contest.

“You are not to eat the pies, only taste them,” he said. “And no eye contact with the contestants.”

Derry resident Marge Palmer was a first-time entry for her traditional apple pie made with her favorite McIntosh apples.

“I was here at Mack’s buying pears and signed up,” she said. “I make a very simple pie.”

Palmer said her pie may not be the most attractive, but she was hoping it might take a top prize.

“It’s in the taste, not the look,” she said.

Judges included community members, Mack family members and town officials, who took their time tasting and grading the pies. Scores were tallied by computer and the top pies made it to the final round. More tasting followed and the final three in each category were named.

Robert Gardner came all the way from Braintree, Mass., to enter his pie. The 89-year-old is known for his baking in his family.

“There is no secret to my pie,” he said. “I just do it for something to do.”

Marilyn Eddy has entered the contest for more than 20 years. She said she won a few times. Others were entering for the first time.

In the end, the top winners in each category were named and received gift baskets and bragging rights to have their recipes featured at the Mack’s Apples farm stand.

Cathy Carpentier won the traditional pie category and Victoria Pouliot took the nontraditional prize.

Mack thanked everyone for entering and coming out to watch the contest. He said it’s the community that has made his family farm a true Londonderry tradition.

“You are all as much family as my family,” he said. “And when I look at apple pies, I think of my mother. It’s good to have the contest back.”