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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. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

< Back to Oral History project: Pie in Arkansas


Mary Thomas

The Family Pie Shop

Coming from a large family in Biscoe, Arkansas, Mary Thomas began cooking at an early age. After many years making pies for a local restaurant, Mary opened The Family Pie Shop next to her house in 1977. Since then, she has served presidents and governors, and her pies have graced countless Thanksgiving and Christmas tables in Arkansas.

Mary and her husband began the shop after he learned to cook while serving during the Korean War and later as a shipboard chef with the federal government. For years, the couple worked together, serving both hot food and pies. After he passed away in 1992, Mary began focusing on pies exclusively. Along with special orders, her staples include coconut, egg custard, and chocolate pie built on her secret crust. Over the years, both her grandchildren and great-grandchildren have worked in her kitchen, learning the fine art of pie-making from their “Mae-Mae.”

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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