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September 20, 2014

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Birthplace of McDonald’s Apple Pie: Magnolia Avenue

“How about a two-for-one apple kolacky with your Extra Value Meal?”

For good or for ill, this Eastern European version of a danish is not what you’ll likely find as a dessert option the next time you’re at McDonald’s. But if it hadn’t been for one particularly industrious Knoxvillian, it just might have been.

Time warp back with us to the early 1960s. McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc was back at the drawing board, at a loss for a winning dessert to round out his famous burger-and-fry combo. Brownies, strawberry shortcake, pound cake, and, of course, the famous kolacky—all failed. What was he to do?

Meanwhile Litton Cochran, a native Knoxvillian who opened the city’s first McDonald’s on Magnolia Avenue in 1960, was remembering the delicious little fried apple pies his mother made for him as an after-school snack. Cochran took a chance and decided to start serving them at his restaurant.

The little pies were so successful that Cochran’s first dessert chefs—his mother and sister—stepped aside so a commercial supplier could meet the demand. And the rest was fast food history.

Executives at McDonald’s corporate outside Chicago took notice of Cochran’s fried pie success and by 1970, Knoxville’s own southern fried apple pie could be found at every McDonald’s across America.

So while we’re still rooting for the kolacky, we’re pretty proud of Knoxville, and of Litton Cochran and the little piece of our city that forms a part of the greater American Pie.

Information source: Love, J. (1986). McDonald’s: Behind The Arches. New York: Bantam Books.

The Knoxford Files shed light on Knoxville history that is filled with all kinds of awesomeness. Want more of Knoxford’s Chuck Allen? Follow him or friend him.

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  • Eric Moritz

    Leave it to the South to create what is probably McDonald’s most unhealthy menu item. Unhealthy, but super delicious.

  • CP

    @Eric Moritz: I say we field trip it to McDonald’s, gain some weight with an apple pie, then grab a Mt. Dew, get hopped up on caffeine and walk sideways down Magnolia Ave.

    *puts the caffeine down*

  • Missybw

    The Magnolia McDonalds was all that back in the 60s. The first place I ever had McDonalds in fact, when I was 3ish. Did not know that the Fried Pie was invented there but I’m not surprised. I miss the Cherry Pies… even though I’m pretty sure that the filling has very little to do with any substance found in Nature. Just so everybody knows, the original fried ones are available at Krystal. Just in case, you know, you have an artery that needs a clog or something :-)

  • Chuck

    Did somebody say field trip? I’m always down for some fried apple goodness.

  • bcknoxify

    Super read, look forward to Chuckie Allen throwing down on this town!

  • Shawn

    What a great taste of Knoxville history. Keep up the good work. I look forward to the next installment of Knoxford files.

  • Nicole VanScoten

    Awesome! Who knew? Love all the interesting Knoxville history…

  • Wright

    Wow! Cool story. Thanks for posting.

  • knoxie

    Nice see something actually about Knoxville instead of just coupons and Twitter narcissism.

  • CP

    @knoxie: Maybe we’ll tweet a coupon for a McDonald’s Apple Pie later today. Be on the lookout.

  • Ashley

    Mmm… McDonald’s Fried Apple Pies are my weakness. Though my Granny makes a mean one too!

  • Eric Moritz

    @CP I’d be afraid to walk down Magnolia under normal conditions, but if we drink enough Mt Dew, we’ll get so hyper that we’ll fit in with the crackheads and be left alone.

  • CP

    @Eric Moritz: My thoughts exactly. Hopped-up on Mt. Dew = walking sideways.

  • DevilDog7

    Nice tidbit of knowledge! Who knew? Now we southerners have Coca Cola AND Mackie D’s apple pies as our claim to fame. Better grease up the old treadmills…

  • Trudi

    Where were the other McDonald’s around 1965?
    I remember one in North Knoxville, with the arches. Am I right?



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