Harold Peaden’s love for potato pie started on his trips to Kilona, La., to visit his mother’s family.
“My mother’s people baked,” says Peaden.
As a little boy, Peaden grew so fond of the sweet potato pie that it became his quest on these trips.
In his pursuit of the perfect pie, the young Peaden urged family members to write their recipes down. It was advice that would serve him well when launching the Sweet Potato Pie Company.
His love affair with sweet potato pie continued through college as well as his careers as a math teacher and chemical engineer. Armed with his mother-in-law Dorothy Carradine’s recipe, Peaden experimented for 15 years, until he reached sweet potato pie nirvana.
He shared his sweet potato pie with family members and co-workers, with over the top success. Almost everyone loved his pie. He tells the story of one co-worker to whom he offered pie.
“She said she didn’t eat anyone’s sweet potato pie but her mother’s. I left the pie in the break room. After she reluctantly tasted it, she asked me to make her four pies,” Peaden says with a chuckle.
Others began ordering pies as well; and that was the genesis of the Southern Sweet Potato Company, which Peaden and his wife opened in 1998.
A year later, they bought the building that houses the company. The scent of sweet potato pie permeates the air, and the smells of cream, butter, cocoa, and sugar tempt the taste buds. The display case holds brownies, pecan pie, sweet potato pie, and ooey gooey cake—all made using only fresh Louisiana products, including eggs, sugar, sweet potatoes and milk.
The Southern Sweet Potato Pie Company has two full-time employees and employs four additional workers as needed. Peaden is currently looking for an expert to partner with him in a cake-decorating business.
Regarding why he gave up a lucrative career in chemical engineering to open the bakery, Peaden says “I saw an opportunity to create my own destiny.”
Always intrigued by a challenge and stubbornly determined to succeed at whatever he undertook, Peaden and his wife financed the business out of their own pockets.
“I am not a professional baker, so getting financing was difficult,” says the pie maker. But being persistent has led to a successful baking business.
He also owns three Subway franchises on the west bank. But the Southern Sweet Potato Pie Company remains the crown jewel of his entrepreneurial pursuits.
One of the company’s greatest achievements has been getting Southern Sweet Potato Pie Company products in Walgreens stores. The products are also distributed wholesale through the Imperial Trading Company. One of Peaden’s goals is to break into military contracting. The bakery also ships desserts and Louisiana seafood all over the country. In addition to the Marrero bakery, the Peadens have launched a catering business.
The Southern Sweet Potato Pie Company is located at 5346 Lapalco Blvd. and open 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday.
For more information, call 328-2221.