Tony down at Supa Fry, my local chip shop, is a big fan of Pukka pies. “The guy who started the company,” he says, “he started in his garden! This was 40, 50 years ago. And now look at it. They’re sending pies around the world now. And good luck to him.”
Tony is, as ever, right. Pukka pies are everywhere, and it’s for the best. While some traditionalists lament the demise of the regional pie, and I certainly miss being able to score a good Scotch pie here in London, the rise of the Pukka superpie has removed the occasionally intestinally devastating variation in quality that has, historically, been a significant hazard for the enthusiast.
The Pukka Pie founder of whom Tony speaks is Trevor Scott, who kicked things off in 1963 and made himself one of Britain’s richest men on the back of his pie empire. 180,000 pies and pastries are produced every day at Pukka’s high-tech factory at Syston, Leicestershire. You can get them all over the place – as well as at Tony’s Supa Fry, I think I’m right in saying they are now the principle pie in English football, and it is in this context I have come to know them well.
Like all the best football rituals, there’s a knack to eating a Pukka pie. When served in a crinkly plastic bag, the top may appear cool, while the foil tray in which they rest is quite warm. Nothing, however, indicates the extraordinary heat in the centre of the pie. N00b pie eaters will dive straight in, and risk serious burns to tongue, lips and even face as the pie contents spill out. Seasoned supporters view this as something of a test; the “serious” fan would not make such a schoolboy error.
The pragmatic pie eater, therefore, may choose to wait 15-20 minutes before consuming the product, knowing that it is piping hot throughout despite its cool exterior. This waiting time is known, at least round seat M108 of the Don Rogers Stand, Swindon, as the “half life” of the Pukka pie. The pie should then be debagged and, by means of gripping the edges of the foil tray while using the index finger to push the bottom of said tray, the pie raised out its container. This allows a safer approach to the snack, all the while ensuring no gravy spills down your front.
Could this ritual spread from the English lower leagues to Serie A or La Liga, or even Major League Soccer in the US? The company’s advertising makes no secret of Pukka’s global ambitions, as you can see from these snaps from SupaFry.
A terrifying vision: a fleet of giant pies swoop down towards the Houses of Parliament, sent through some kind of tractor beam from a giant Photoshopped orb.
Pukka make their global ambitions clear, as a giant pie – aroma clearly leaking from under its pastry lid, prepares to land on the White House.
History meets the future in his pastry-packed vision, where the foil-wrapped snacks make their weaving way down from the stars, and squeeze through the historic landmark. Note: the bridge stays down, to avoid any punctures and/or spillage of gravy.
In a surprising turn, Pukka point out the noted aphrodisiac qualities of their products. The snack being advertised here is known in the trade as – and I $hit you not – a Stand Up Cornish Pasty.
You’ll find plenty more brilliant Pukka posters at their website (and they’re available to buy) although I think Tony’s selection is pretty damn fine.