If there's a dessert dear to the hearts of Oklahomans, it's pecan pie. If there's been a pecan pie Oklahomans have been willing to travel for, it is Field's pecan pie.
It all started after World War I, when two brothers, Lee and Julian Field, bought some land at the corner of Paul and Walnut in Pauls Valley, OK. The brothers began with a filling station and then added cottages. In 1925, they opened a small restaurant that they called Field’s Tavern. This corner became a one-stop service center for travelers and was the busiest place in town because it was right off of the newly constructed U.S. Highway 77.
Each morning, their wives, Hazelle and Zora cooked pastries in their homes for the restaurant. Hazelle, Julian's wife, had her hands in flour and shortening making 15 to 50 pies, while Zora, Lee’s wife, baked cakes. By 1953, the demand for pecan pies and red-devil cakes became so great that they added a bakery to the restaurant. Hazelle and Zora trained women to bake their specialties before they retired. After the restaurant closed each night, these women would begin baking for the next day.
People in other areas of Oklahoma began to ask for the pies, so the Field's bought a delivery truck. Each morning a student at East Central State College filled it with pies and delivered them to Ada, Seminole and the surrounding area when he wasn’t in class.
In 1962, an old building in downtown Pauls Valley was converted into a pie plant. The Fields hired 30 people and ran three 8-hour shifts a day, with two shorter shifts on weekends. Each baking day produced nearly 3,000 pies from their ovens.
When the brothers retired, the businesses were divided. Julian’s son, Julian Jr. took the restaurant and pie business. By 1967, the Fields had five trucks supplying fresh pies to Oklahomans. Julian Jr. and his wife, Wanda, realized expanding sales meant the company needed a new approach. They decided to bake pies in even larger quantities and freeze them so they would be able to ship them to a wider market. In order to do this, they needed a new plant.
In 1975, they opened the new plant and closed the old one. The pies that once came from a Field family kitchen began rolling out of giant ovens in a modern factory. It was 17,000 square feet of complex machinery and precast cement. They continued to have 30 employees; many of them have been with the Field’s family since the beginning. These employees have consisted of husbands and wives, mothers and daughters as well as three generations of one family all working together in the plant. With the new equipment those same employees could produce 8,000 pies in one eight-hour shift.
With the ability to make more pies, the Fields went to a broker system of distribution with warehouses in Oklahoma City, OK, Tulsa, OK, Dallas, TX, Lubbock, TX, El Paso, TX, Phoenix, AZ, and Clarksville, AR.
Though it's pecan pie that's made them famous and makes up 85% of their sales, the Fields and their employees actually bake three kinds of pies: Pecan, German Chocolate and Old Fashioned Lemon. All are frozen fresh from the oven and only have to be thawed to serve.
In 1984, Field's Pecan, Old Fashioned Lemon, and German Chocolate pies were certified as Kosher and Dairy.
The Field's Tavern restaurant closed in the late 1980's.
In 1993, Julian Field Jr. retired and passed on the tradition to his two children, Chris Field and Jenny Wallace. They both remain present in the facility every day.
Field's Pies reached new food safety goals when becoming GFSI certified under the British Retail Consortium platform in 2013. That same year, they began operating 2 shifts from 7am – 12am that gave them the ability to make approximately 20,000 pies per day with about 40 employees.
As you can see, a lot of tradition goes into every pie they make. Today, you don’t have to travel very far to get Field’s pies. You can find their pies at grocery stores throughout Oklahoma and the surrounding states.