Gays Mills is the Apple Capital of Wisconsin. The stretch of Highway 171 that meanders into Gays Mills is lined with orchards, and thousands of apple trees with a plethora of varieties bursting from their branches.
Nestled along side the road, a half of a mile west of Highway 61 is the Apple’licious Pie Depot, which is celebrating 20 years in business this year.
It all started when Tammy Morga and Wendy Burkholder worked at the Red Apple Inn on Main Street in Gays Mills.
“We saw how many people came in, bought slices of pie and it just seemed like something people really enjoyed,” said Tammy. In 1995, the duo started their operation out of a mobile home, just a stone’s throw away from their current location.
“We spent a lot of time giving away slices and samples to get our name and pies out there,” Tammy explained. A couple years later they moved next door and expanded their production, staying there until 2007, when they built their building which houses their current operation.
Walking into the retail shop, your senses are fulfilled. The smells of fresh baked, warm pies cooling on the counter, along with those still in the oven fills the air and the sight of beautiful pies and other baked goods draw you closer.
“We’ve joked that if we could bottle the smell of the shop we’d be millionaires,” Tammy noted with a chuckle.
Apple’licious opens up every year as soon as the apples are ready, which usually means mid-August and the season runs until the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
Starting from humble beginnings of only offering apple pie, the Apple’licious Pie Depot has expanded to many varieties of pie. Of course, the old trusty apple pie made with apples from the local orchards still remains the top seller.
“Everything is fresh fruit, nothing we use comes from a can,” Tammy said. “That’s why we’ve been in business for 20 years. There aren’t machines doing the work, it’s all made by hand; including all the crusts which are made by Wendy, it’s her specialty.” The Apple’licious Pie Depot also offers meringue pies, as well as caramel crumb top pies, which are big sellers.
The quality ingredients, time, and love put into these pies are reflected in how quickly they walk out of the store.
“We put in a lot of long, hard hours, making everything from scratch, and not taking any shortcuts,” Tammy pointed out. “But every year, business is better and better. We don’t do a lot of advertising, so most of it is word of mouth, and that’s the best way to do it.”
Along with pies, which are available fresh or frozen, the Depot also offers cookies, turnovers, apple pizzas and apple cider doughnuts. Consider ordering ahead to ensure you are able to get the pie your heart and stomach desire—just call 608-624-3783. The Apple’licious Pie Depot is located at 44245 State Highway 171, which is just west of Rolling Ground.