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Published: Thursday, 7/8/2004

Thanks to pie, granola sales are cooking

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

FINDLAY - Few want the red box, or the yellow box, but the green box containing the Oats 'n Honey variety of Nature Valley crunchy granola bars is selling faster than some local grocers can stock it, thanks to a Findlay woman who made them famous last week.

Suzanne Conrad, using a $2.89 box of granola bars, submitted her recipe for Oats 'n Honey Granola Pie to the 41st Pillsbury Bake-Off, winning the $1 million grand prize June 29 in Hollywood.

In the days following the Bake-Off and her June 30 appearance on television's Today show demonstrating her pie-making skills, area grocery stores have seen significantly higher demand for the oats-and-honey-flavored granola bars.

"For the first few days, we were pretty much out of them," said Rick Heilman, assistant store manager of Kroger Co.'s Tiffin Avenue store in Findlay.

Mr. Heilman said even though the store ordered two cases of granola bars last week - each case holding 12 boxes - instead of its usual order of a box as needed, both cases were gone the next day.

He said one woman bought all 12 boxes of the oats and honey variety on the shelf, commenting that she intended bake Mrs. Conrad's winning pie for her Independence Day guests.

Stephanie Skylar, executive vice president of Chief Supermarkets, headquartered in Defiance, said last week's oats and honey granola bar sales more than doubled.

In Toledo, an assistant manager of the Kroger store at Monroe Street and Secor Road, said sales of the granola bars used in the pie recipe jumped 50 percent since the bake-off. Managers heard shoppers comment that they planned to make the winning pie.

Andre Grotrian, grocery area team leader of Meijer in Findlay, said he has ordered an extra case of granola bars a day. The store slashed the price from $2.89 a box to $1.44.

Mrs. Conrad said she was surprised when she heard the granola bars have been big sellers She's also surprised by the accolades she has received.

"I'm so shocked at the attention for just a little pie," she said.

She wondered if her local Meijer store sold out of the bars because it ran a special or because her pie is easy to make.

Suzanne Conrad of Findlay displays her prize-winning Oats 'n Honey Granola Pie. Suzanne Conrad of Findlay displays her prize-winning Oats 'n Honey Granola Pie.
CHERYL HIMMELSTEIN / AP Enlarge

"The [recipe] I turned in was very crush and dump," she said. "I'd be surprised if somebody had some problems. A kid who likes to cook could easily do this."

Easy or not, at Tuesday's Findlay City Council meeting, council unanimously approved a resolution commending her bake-off accomplishment.

And Mayor Anthony Iriti declared July 6 to be Suzanne Conrad day, recognizing her for spreading goodwill as an "ambassador" of the city.

She presented him with one of her now-famous pies in a box decorated with a granola bar.

A city councilman called out, "Maybe we should have an official dessert of the city."

Mayor Iriti held up Mrs. Conrad's pie and responded, "I think I have one."

Contact Erika Ray at:

eray@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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