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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region.


Loretta Tacker

Shake Shack

The Shake Shack lies a few hundred yards from Interstate 55 in Marion, Arkansas. Inside, John Wayne and Elvis memorabilia covers the walls, while a display case full of slowly spinning fresh pies tempts customers next to the register.

Owner and pie maker Loretta Tacker was working as a kindergarten teacher when she and her husband John decided to buy the local Tastee Freeze in 1977, the year Elvis died. Though the couple had never worked in food service before, they quickly became a cornerstone in the community, even as national chains opened up nearby.

Loretta learned to make pies by watching her grandmother, and she incorporates recipes from friends and family members into the restaurant’s pie offerings. Her famous Tang pie, a soft orange pie that incorporates the drink powder of the same name, came from a recipe given to her by her mother-in-law. The pecans for pecan pie come from her own trees. At the Shake Shack, diners can have pie all day, from a breakfast fried pie to the post-dinner hot fudge pie, served with ice cream.

Date of interview:

Sherri Sheu

Sherri Sheu

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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