American Countryside: Levee-High Pie

December 2, 2016 02:48 AM

For Mary Hostetter, 1983 was the best and worst of times. She went through a divorce and suddenly had to support two young children. That year she also started a business baking cookies and pastries from her home to make ends meet.  

The tastiness of her baked goods quickly established repeat customers. “By Christmas 1985 I had orders for over 30,000 Christmas cookies to bake in my own kitchen with one regular oven and a very small oven,” Hostetter says. Neighbors pitched in to help. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, she worked 21-hour days, seven days a week to fill the orders.

She eventually decided to open her own restaurant and bakery, the Blue Owl, in Kimmswick, Mo. Hostetter developed a loyal clientele, and business went well until the summer of 1993. Her location beside the Mississippi River became precarious when a 500-year flood hit that year.

“We built a levee behind our restaurant the width of the street to withstand a crest of 50',” she explains. “The water got to 49.9', just a tenth of a foot from flooding the town.”  

In honor of the levee, the volunteers and her answered prayers, Hostetter created a new dessert. She called it “Levee-High Apple Pie.”

Guests who order a slice, or a whole pie, often have to strategize how to eat the tall, thick dessert. That challenge has brought people from all across the country to the Blue Owl. Soon demand was so high, Hostetter received requests to ship the “levee-high” pies.

Today you can purchase an unbaked frozen pie and have it shipped anywhere in the lower 48 states. While the mighty apple pie is the headliner, it is just one in an amazing lineup of desserts that keeps Hostetter and her employees busy.

November and December are especially busy for Hostetter and her employees. “The day before Thanksgiving we’ve baked over 300 pies from scratch for our customers,” she says. Plus there are a multitude of orders for carryout and mail order ahead of Christmas. It has all become a holiday tradition for the folks at 
the Blue Owl.

“American Countryside” is heard each weekday on a network of 100 radio stations, regularly on “U.S. Farm Report” TV and on demand via the Farm Journal Radio app. For details, visit www.American 


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