Patrice Dougan is the Herald's education reporter.

Winning pie sells in the thousands

Some stores have sold out of the winning pie. Photo / Facebook, Jordan Wyatt
Some stores have sold out of the winning pie. Photo / Facebook, Jordan Wyatt

Move over steak and cheese - your Kiwi pie crown is being threatened by a gourmet vegan, Mexican number.

The pie, which won a customer competition to be sold in Z petrol stations over the summer holiday period, has sold in the thousands in its first five days on the racks - with some stores already selling out.

The company's piemakers have been told to stoke up the ovens to meet demand, before the limited edition pie comes off the shelves on January 28.

"We've been really surprised by how this pie has taken off, it's quite a phenomenon," Z spokesman Jonathan Hill said.

Winning pie-maker Gemma McLeod is a health food blogger from Auckland. Photo / Facebook
Winning pie-maker Gemma McLeod is a health food blogger from Auckland. Photo / Facebook

"In fact, I was just in one of our Wellington sites and split one with my wife because we got the last one."

The pies - with a spicy tomato, sweetcorn and onion filling - were stocked in around 140 Z stations across New Zealand and some had already sold out, he said.

However, it was difficult to say how many and which sites had sold out, he said, because of the holiday period.

He advised vegan pie lovers to "keep looking".

"We're in production now of a second run, so we will be stocking them up really soon."

He added: "We will be stocking them as quickly as we possibly can. To be fair, this was not a problem that we predicted. We never for a minute thought that a vegan pie would win the competition and we never expected it to sell as well as it has, so it just goes to show when you listen to your customers pleasant results can come out."

Nelson Z doesn't stock the vegan pies but they have had heaps of requests! We had to drive to Richmond where we bought...

Posted by Winter Child on Thursday, December 31, 2015

On Facebook, Z said the new batch of vegan pies would be in stores by January 12.

The Mexican vegan pie beat 3500 entries to the DIY Pie competition, which was held in July. Gemma McLeod, a health food blogger from Auckland, beat off stiff competition for the vegan winner, with four of the top five entries being vegan.

Gemma, who blogs under Recovering Raw, describes herself as a "plant-based foodie, blogger, and wanderer healing herself through nature".

She details her recovery from anorexia on her blog, and posts recipes and photographs of her mostly raw and vegan meals across social media.

She has yet to post about her vegan pie or its success, but has been contacted by the Herald for comment.

No decision on whether Z will stock the vegan pie permanently has yet been made however, but Mr Hill said: "We'll have a look at it, it's only due to be sold for a month, but it has sold better than we expected. We'll see whether the kind of sales that we've seen over the first week continue, and if they do we'll have a look at it."

Thanks Z Energy for the yummy new vegan pies! 󾌵

Posted by Joy Houghting on Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Demand for the pies to become a permanent fixture is already building on social media, with dozens of posts to the Z Facebook page praising the pie, and detailing the lengths some people have gone to find one.

"I went to 4 different stations before I found a pie. These should be permanent!," Rachael Elliott said.

Nyree Jones said: "Holy moly, that's one tasty pie! I really hope you decide to continue them!"

While Mrinalini Parbhaker said: "Such a yummy pie I just love it."

Both Joshua Lohan and Junior Laulala called on Z to make them a regular feature in the pie warmer.

Junior Laulala added: "Your vegan pies are amazing! So far I've bought 12 pies already, 9 of which were for myself. Please please keep them going longer than the promotional period. You're gonna have a lot of people having withdrawals and in physical pain at not being able to grab a vegan pie from Z."

For over 20 years I have gone no where near service station pie warmers but have just spent the last 2 days checking...

Posted by Jessi Kadow on Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Cristy Benson said she ate two in one day, while Aaron Cross said he was blown away by how tasty they were.

Melanie Stock said: "Thanks so much for your Mexican Vegan Pie! I was away camping so only got to a Z yesterday - ate 2 yesterday and 2 today and brought the last 3 frozen ones today too."

She added: "Please make these a permanent addition to the pie warmer. such delicious pie."

Posting under the name Winter Child, one enthusiastic pie customer said: "Nelson Z doesn't stock the vegan pies but they have had heaps of requests! We had to drive to Richmond where we bought the last 3 ... they are their most popular since they were released ... Come on Z I think us vegans have proved that we need these to be a permanent feature on the menu ... And more vegan options ... First time myself and many others have been able to eat at Z!"

Angus McGyve found it difficult to get his hands on one of the pies: "Went to 3 Z stations in Auckland today looking for the new Mexican pie. The 3rd place told me to try back after the 11th."

As did Kerri Perwic, posting just two days after they were released: "Hubby went to two Invercargill Z stations today before finding us some pies for dinner - he had to ask them to check the freezer and the second station had a couple left."

But meat lovers needn't worry - steak and cheese and mince and cheese are Z's biggest selling pies "by quite a considerable margin", Mr Hill said, so it's unlikely the service station pie warmer will be overtaken by vegan delights.

- NZ Herald

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