In 2017, the world has indulged in a long line of ridiculous food trends, from the avolatte to the $5 Nutella on a spoon. Now we have hit new heights with the advent of the PieFee: A coffee served in a pie crust.
This innovative concept has come from New Zealand cafe the Tasteful Bakehouse, with creator and business owner Chamnan Ly telling SmartCompany the idea came to him in late February when baking some custard tarts.
“We use a layer of chocolate in our custard tart pie shells to protect the pastry when we pour the hot custard in there, so one day I was playing around and I decided to put coffee in there,” he said.
Ly then posted a photo to the business’ Facebook page, dubbing the concept the ‘PieFee’. But it wasn’t until weeks later when the invention really took off, after a customer came in-store and asked for a PieFee.
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“It was a bit of a joke, but we gave him one. Then he brought more friends in to have one, and we thought, ‘this is working’,” Ly said.
Since then the invention has evolved into a thicker crust with more chocolate filling, and Ly has even expanded the concept to include a pie crust “saucer” for the cup to sit on. The tinfoil included in the first PieFee prototype has now gone in an effort to make the cups more “environmentally friendly”, says Ly.
Ly’s invention has received a lot of media attention both locally and abroad which he says has been a boon for the business, with customers coming from everywhere to get a bite and sip of the humble PieFee. Ly swears the purpose of the product was not for marketing, instead saying it was just a “random idea”.
Marketing expert at Marketing Angels Michelle Gamble tells SmartCompany despite the increasingly frequent and ridiculous food products blowing up around the world, the craze is only just getting started.
“Everyone is going to try and reinvent food ideas, it’s just beginning. We’re nowhere near the peak,” Gamble says.
She believes businesses thinking of using wacky food ideas as marketing tools should know they’re mostly for the novelty factor and “don’t have a great deal of longevity”, but they can get a good deal of attention for a brand.
“It can create buzz on social media because customers know it’s ridiculous, but it will still get people in store and on location and talking about it,” she says.
“Customers want to be entertained in all of our retail experiences, and businesses have got to make it exciting for them when they can. It’s easier than ever to do things in your home now, so it’s about getting people to act and creating more of an experience.”
For Ly and his PieFee, there’s no plan to stop delivering on that experience, with plans to continue to offer and improve the culinary hybrid, which retails for $NZ4.90 ($4.60).
“We’re still selling them and trying to promote them, and I’m playing around with some other concepts like cinnamon flavoured cups,” he says.
“We’re going to keep them at a reasonable price so everyone can enjoy them, it’s going to be an ongoing business for us.”