Roadside Americana – Pecan Pie Vending Machine

1 11 2013

Pecan Pie Vending Machine

Team Hall & Nass loves a good road trip. Granted, many road trips in our past have been those good ol’ fashioned crossing the country in a bit of a hurry types of drives, blasting from checkpoint to checkpoint, stopping only long enough to grab a route card or to gas and go! However, some road trips are more about the journey than racing toward the destination. And sometimes, it’s those destinations along the way that are what the journey is all about. Taking time to stop and enjoy the many sights, sounds and oddities along the way. Searching for good food, great people, and some true old fashioned roadside Americana. Yep, this story is that kind of ride.

While reading an issue of Hot Rod Magazine this past summer, we perused their list of Top 57 Gearhead Destinations. One of the most unique roadside attractions listed was a pecan pie vending machine. The article stated: “In Cedar Creek, Texas, you can buy an entire pecan pie from a vending machine. An entire pie. From a vending machine!”

Having inquisitive minds, once we learned of this feat of engineering foodie goodness, we had questions. How does one vend pecan pies from a vending machine? Do you simply enter coins, push a button and watch as an entire pie falls out of a slot? How could it remain cold? How fresh could it really be? It didn’t take long before we decided that a road trip deep into the heart of Texas must be made in our quest for answers and to quench our sudden urge for sticky sweet pecan pie.

We saddled up an appropriately Texas-sized vehicle for our trek across the Lone Star State in the latest Cowboy Cadillac, a 2013 Ford F-350 Platinum Super Duty, and set off on a journey that took us across the vast, flat prairies, slightly beyond the boundaries of Texas Hill Country. Roughly 15 miles east of Austin on Texas Highway 71, we found what could well be one of the coolest things ever placed in a coin operated dispenser.

It may be easy to drive through Cedar Creek, Texas without knowing you’ve passed it, but there is no missing where the Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company is located. There is a giant digital sign on the westbound side of Hwy. 71 that scrolls PECANS, PECAN PIE, etc. that could make those truck stop signs on the Interstates feel a bit inferior. But on the off chance you don’t look a mile into the sky and see the giant digital welcome, you may drive off the highway in startled amazement when you are greeted by the sight of Ms. Pearl, the world’s largest squirrel! Lest you think we are kidding about this, we parked the F-350 next to Ms. Pearl to give you an idea of just how big the squirrels are in Texas. This ought to give you an idea of how many acres of pecans exist on the Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company property.

Ms Pearl the Giant Squirrel

After having fun posing with Ms. Pearl, we walked upon the giant front porch of the store. Just as our fellow gearheads at Hot Rod had promised, there it was! Behold – A vending machine that dispenses entire pecan pies! That’s right, folks! An entire pie. From a vending machine!

Of course, we filmed a video. When don’t we nowadays? When we finally get around to posting it, we’ll add the link to this article. Until then, you’ll have to read on to find out how this works.

We entered the store and visited with the proprietors. After we told them why we were there, a long discussion ensued, and we soon discovered many fascinating things about the family. The 20,000 tree pecan farm that stretches out for miles (everything is big in Texas) behind the store belonged to Hal and Lisa Berdoll for 33 years. The Berdolls’ daughter Jennifer and her husband Jared own and operate the Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company. The original gift shop was a garage where Hal and Lisa sold their fresh pecans to the public. Over the years, as demand continued to grow, they branched out into offering all sorts of pecan treats, candies and, of course, pies. When their daughter and son in law took over operation of the store, they built a larger facility, including an on premise processing and production plant. While the family farm was recently sold so Hal and Lisa could retire, their daughter continues to own and operate the store, which still sells fresh pecans direct from the farm.

As a family business, the Berdolls often found it difficult to close their store at the end of the day, as there was always someone pulling into the lot after closing time looking for pecan pies, and they didn’t like turning their customers away. After years of missing dinner due to staying open late to accommodate those last minute sales, their daughter came up with an idea. Why not sell their pecan treats from a vending machine? What started out as a novel idea has turned into an impressive after hours profit center. Not only can you buy bags of pecan treats in various varieties and flavors, you can also buy an entire fresh pecan pie. And according to those in the store, they sell a lot of pies through the machine. So many that they have to restock it daily, and often multiple times a day.

Armed with this information, and a GoPro, we proceeded back outside to the vending machine. We placed our $20 bill in the slot, selected the appropriate product number, and then watched as something magical happened. Through the looking glass, an entire pecan pie began to move forward, then dropped down into the retrieval area, followed by our .50 cents into the change cup. It was cold, it was wrapped in cellophane, and it was a thing of beauty! That’s right, folks. We bought an entire fresh pecan pie from a vending machine An entire pie. From a vending machine! What more could you ask for?

Afterward, we attacked the pie with great vim and vigor. Forks flew, bites chewed, and the sweet taste of pecans in sticky, gooey goodness ensued. The verdict? It was one of the best pecan pies we’ve ever tasted! Even better, it came from a vending machine. Don’t you love classic roadside Americana? We certainly do!

To experience pecan pie vending bliss for yourself, visit the Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company on Hwy. 71 in Cedar Creek, Texas, and don’t forget to bring a fork! If you cannot make it down to Texas, but you’d like to order one of their delectable pecan treats online, visit http://www.berdollpecanfarm.com. God Bless Texas!

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Ford F-250 Super Duty AT The King Ranch

26 10 2012

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XpSgJQDi24&list=UUhOss6OGf1l4diaw_SNuTIw&index=3&feature=plcp

As many of you may know, Team Hall & Nass and #Motorama LIVE have logged a LOT of miles driving various Ford F-Series, Super Duty, King Ranch and Raptor SVT Trucks over the past two years. We’ve tested the usage and limits of Ford Trucks everywhere from Jimmy Buffett tailgate parties and racetracks along the 2012 Hot Rod Power Tour, to towing heavy items and hauling go fast toys in the beds and on a few trailers behind us all across the United States. In fact, we’ve spent so much time getting to know the capabilities of various F-Series Trucks, we decided we needed to do something more special than just a simple review for the King Ranch edition Ford Super Duty. For this special edition truck, and as Texans, we felt we needed to Go Further.

This summer, #Motorama LIVE and Team Hall & Nass headed way down into deep South Texas to visit the world famous King Ranch to learn more about what makes a King Ranch edition Ford Truck such a source of pride to Texans. In case you didn’t know, the King Ranch is more than just a package option on a Ford Truck. Established by “Captain” Richard King in 1853, the 360,000 acre King Ranch is THE largest ranch in the United States of America, and the second largest ranch in the entire world.

The relationship between Texans and their work trucks is a bond not many outside of Texas truly appreciate, and the bond between Texas ranchers and their work truck of choice is serious business. It’s also VERY personal. So when the folks at the King Ranch decided to allow Ford to put their brand, and their hand crafted leather, into a King Ranch edition Ford Truck, it was about as serious as business gets here in Texas.

We hope you enjoy our tour of the King Ranch and our explanation of what makes a King Ranch edition Ford Truck as special as it truly is. We also hope y’all will pardon us departing from our usual HOON type foolishness and getting back to our roots, as long before Team Hall & Nass began racing fast cars, we started out making our money the old fashioned way, doing manual labor and busting our humps in our work trucks.

For more information on the Ford F-Series King Ranch Trucks, and many of the vehicles we drive, review and discuss with the world, join us for our weekly #Motorama LIVE automotive and motorsports discussion, every Wednesday night from 9-11 PM Eastern on Twitter. Search on the #Motorama hashtag and join the discussion!