For Horace Johnson it isn't pie, but "piiie." "With three i's," he tells me. Johnson has hawked pastries for the Apex Lion's Club at the N.C. State Fair for almost 30 years, and his drawl is as much a part of the annual event's sound as the frequent "Guess Your Age" cries that echo through the midway.
When he isn't in front of the Lion's Club booth, perched on a stool with a microphone, his signature sayings are played on a speaker. There, he says children often approach him, able to repeat his speeches verbatim, including phrases like, "Our pie and a Diet Coke cancels out the calories." Johnson lets such kids do his shtick on the microphone, and he says adults record his voice on their cell phones. In recent years, a painted, plywood cutout of him has been set up nearby for photo opportunities.
"My Cajun twang on the pies became a trademark for our booth at the fair," says Johnson, a Louisiana native. The pastries he sells—pecan, coconut, lemon, apple, sweet potato and chocolate—are good, though store-bought, frozen varieties.
However, there are homemade pastries in the Johnson household thanks to Johnson's wife, Frankie, who is known for her chocolate, key lime and blueberry-banana pies. Her recipe for the latter is listed below.
Horace Johnson calls the unusual blueberry-banana dish a "more adult-y pie." But, of course, in his words, it's "piiie."
Frankie Johnson's Blueberry Banana Piiie
Pillsbury pie crust (comes 2 in a pack) or graham-cracker pie crust from your favorite supermarket
3 good-size bananas, yellow with a hint of green at stem
8 oz. cream cheese
8-oz. container of Cool Whip, regular or fat-free
1 cup sugar
15-oz. or 20-oz. can of blueberry pie filling
Bake crust in 9-inch pie plate. Let it cool.
Cover the bottom of the crust with 2-3 sliced bananas. Mix cream cheese and sugar. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread mixture over the bananas. Top the pie with blueberry filling.
Place the pie in refrigerator for 2-3 hours before serving.
It's quick and easy but tastes like you worked on it for hours.