With its crisp, deep-fried, sugarcoated crust housing the likes of soft-cooked apples, peaches, apricots, or cherries, it is a delight that begs the consumer -- young and old -- to briefly dismiss all worries about expanding waistlines and to simply enjoy.

Jo Clark knows what I’m talking about. Proprietor of the Fried Pie Co. & Restaurant, located on the courthouse square in Gainesville, Texas, she is viewed by many as the long-reigning queen mother of the industry. For more than a quarter century, she and her staff have cooked 300 to 400 pies daily to satisfy the needs of addicted customers, many of whom travel great distances for their fix. Others just phone in to urge her to ship a dozen or so as quickly as possible.

At a place called Atwood’s Holiday Treat, in Marble Falls, Texas, Hardy Sivells has had to resort to extreme measures in the name of customer fairness. Above his order counter hangs a sign that reads, “A Maximum of Four per Customer.” Otherwise, folks would buy by the dozens, leaving others empty-handed.

Such is the Down South demand.