Apple Annie's pies

Apple Annie's pies

David Sparks Ph.D.
David Sparks Ph.D.
Lonely Planet, the leading international travel guidebook publisher, has recognized Apple Annie's as the best place to eat apple pie in the world. The four-generation Willcox, Ariz., family farm tops the list in the first edition of Ultimate Eats, recently published.

"Whenever we eat while traveling, we don't just taste the dish itself but experience the whirl of people, languages, aromas, and sounds that are unique to that destination," says Lonely Planet marketing manager Ashley Garver. "In this collection of the planet's most thrilling and famous culinary experiences, each entry in the list details an experience, the culture behind it, and what makes it so special."

The book, published by Lonely Planet Food, ranks the world's top 500 food experiences, with "apple pie in the USA" coming in at No. 85 and Apple Annie's leading the category.

"We have always focused on the total experience at Apple Annie's," says Mandy Kirkendall, daughter of founders Annie and John Holcomb. "There's nothing like eating apple pie right where the apples are picked. Also, it's a delicious recipe!" 

Kirkendall owns and operates the farm with other family members including her grandfather Don Holcomb, her husband David, their son, her brother and sister-in-law Matt and Alicia Holcomb and their children.

The agritourism enterprise is rooted in a 6,000-tree apple orchard opened in 1986, the same year Annie concocted her secret from-scratch pie recipe that includes hand-peeled apples and hand-crimped crust. The pies come in old-fashioned, sugar-free, gluten-free, or crumb-topped; combined with tart cherries, raspberries, or rhubarb; and à la mode, if desired.

Apple Annie's now has 7,100 apple trees, 4,700-tree peach, 800 Asian pear, and 300 cherry as well as 37 acres of pumpkins, 19 acres of sweet corn, and assorted produce such as watermelons and peppers.

Customers may pick their own fruits and other vegetables in season and eat pie in the orchard. The family opened year-round Apple Annie's Orchard Country Store in 2013 with fresh pies, bread, fudge, gourmet jar goods, and gifts.

Apple Annie's ( hosts a series of food celebrations throughout the summer and fall, including Peach Mania, Sweet Extravaganza, Watermelon Weekends, Apple Harvest, and Pumpkin Festival. The events also benefit the Lupus Foundation of Southern Arizona, March of Dimes, and Youth Haven Ranch, with more than $100,000 donated so far.


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