It All Started When...
At the end of World War II, as Americans settled back into a routine after four years of rationing and hardship, folks grasped for items that would bring them closer to sense of normality. As we all know, one of the best ways to bring back good memories and to feel better is with good food. Comfort food some folks call it. Without a doubt, it was that thought that brought about one of the finest creations to ever grace the palate of southern eaters; the Armstrong Home-Style Turnover. Some call it a pie, some call it a turnover, but no matter what you call it, those 3 ounces of flaky crust and delicious fruit or chocolate filling is pure delight. The pie stirs up memories of Mom's cooking, or a Sunday dinner at Grandma's; comfort food at it's finest.
Here's the inside scoop on the history of our Company...
Recently separated from the armed services, Billie Armstrong began making pies out of her home in 1946 to sell in the neighborhoods of Hohenwald, Tennessee. They were soon the rage; everyone wanted them. Their popularity grew until it became evident that Mrs. Armstrong was onto something good. By 1950, the operation was ready to explode, and so it took up a life of its own and moved to a two story house on South Park Avenue in Hohenwald.
Soon, the pies were being produced in a small assembly line; some 14 workers mixed the dough, rolled the dough, and cut the dough while others mixed and cooked the fillings. The pies were stuffed, and cooked to a deep golden brown before being sacked, sorted, loaded and delivered to 1250 stores all around middle Tennessee and northern Alabama. A lot of the work of handling distribution was tasked to major distributors in Nashville, Jackson, and Lawrenceburg, Tennessee.
At the peak of production, there were eleven flavors of Mrs. Armstrong's Pies available: Coconut, Pineapple, Peach, Apple, Chocolate, Cherry, Raisin, Apricot, Lemon, Pecan, and Strawberry. The company slogan of "They Melt In Your Mouth" rang true, with Peach always being the best seller.
The pies were a sensational hit, and the business continued to grow throughout the 50's. The company expanded in the 1960's to include a pre-made frozen pie crust, the first of its kind ever patented. In fact, the concept was so revolutionary that a large food supplier even presented Mrs. Armstrong with a buyout proposal just to get the pie crust. Seeing that she had something special, she held onto the patent, and soon began to go on television stations in Nashville to advertise the product to the masses. 4 employees ran the pie crust operation, which only ran part-time, and they were kept busy with the demand for the product. Truckloads of Mrs. Armstrong's Frozen Pie Crust rolled into stores across the south, and the product held the lion's share of the market for a long time. As other companies got into the market for frozen pie crusts, the demand for Mrs. Armstrong's crust slowed, and eventually the company stopped production and turned all of its attention back to the one thing that got them started, the pie.
The company operated in the Hohenwald location until the late 1980's when it moved to Centerville, Tennessee to a larger facility. Operations at the Centerville bakery continued until 2005, when the operation moved to Phil Campbell, Alabama. On September 8, 2008, this factory was relocated from Phil Campbell, Ala, to Linden, Tn., After equipment setup and tests in the kitchen, the present day factory started operations on Monday September 15, 2008. Our Open House celebration and ribbon cutting was Thursday October 23, 2008. Our new cookie line started baking December , 23 2010
An Inside look at our founder
Bill Lawson started at Mrs. Armstrong's when he was in the eighth grade. Bill's father was a delivery driver for the bakery, and Bill started out sacking pies. Over the next twenty years, Bill worked for Mrs. Armstrong in many key positions within the bakery. We recently asked Bill what he could tell us about our founder, Mrs. Billie Armstrong, and what kind of person she was. This is what he had to say.
"The bakery was a family business owned by Billie and her husband, Avery Armstong. Avery helped her but he mainly took care of a farm they owned and she took care of the bakery business. Mrs. Armstrong was definitely a leader in the community. She was an animal lover, and she was a good business person. Mrs. Armstrong was a hard worker. She worked from before daylight to after dark, and she expected the same out of her employees. She loved Hohenwald, and donated to school programs such as football, and basketball. She supported Memorial Park and Civic Clubs. And there were many others she supported. Both the woman and the company were good neighbors to both Hohenwald, and Lewis County."