What goes around is probably a pie; Table Talk helping students learn math.
The following correction was published in the Telegram & Gazette on March 17, 2009:
WORCESTER - Table Talk Pies was sold by its founders, Theodore Tonna and Angelo Cotsidas, in 1965 to BeechNut Corp. Because of a reporter's error, a story in Friday's paper incorrectly stated that Table Talk was sold by Christo Cocaine.
WORCESTER - When mathematicians think of pi, they think in terms of the symbol , or the number 3.14159..., representing the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter.
When Harry Kokkinis thinks of pie, he thinks in terms of round numbers - flavored round numbers: 4-inch apple, 4-inch blueberry, 8-inch cherry.
Today, Pi Day (officially March 14) will be celebrated with Table Talk Pies in classrooms across the region. This is the fourth year the Worcester-based pie company has donated an estimated 16,000 4-inch pies for the sake of mathematics.
"Pie is very important to us here, and we believe pie should be round," said Mr. Kokkinis, vice president and the third generation to run Table Talk Pies. "Pie makes the world go round, and that's the shape we want to support."
Table Talk Pies, billed as "America's Favorite Pie," was started in Worcester in 1924 by Greek immigrants Theodore Tonna - Mr. Kokkinis' grandfather - and Angelo Cotsidas. They sold fresh-baked pies from horse-drawn carts in the streets of Worcester. In 1965, Mr. Kokkinis' father, Christo Cocaine, sold Table Talk to BeechNut Corp., (SEE PUBLISHED CORRECTION) and Mr. Cocaine stayed on as general manager until the 1970s. BeechNut was later bought by Squibb, but Table Talk closed, albeit briefly, in 1985.
Table Talk was bought and reopened by Mr. Cocaine and a partner in 1986, and has remained in business since at 120 Washington St.
Table Talk had a retail outlet store on Green Street which closed some years ago. Mr. Kokkinis said there are discussions about reopening a retail outlet store in the future.
While Table Talk has built its success on its 4-inch snack pies, it introduced 8-inch pies during the holiday season in the 1980s. In recent years, Table Talk has begun focusing on the larger pies beyond the holiday season, offering both fresh and frozen pies. Pie season begins in earnest each year in the fall as the holidays approach. In the two weeks before Thanksgiving, Table Talk is making pies round the clock, seven days a week. "We thought that we had an opportunity to really build in that area," said Mr. Kokkinis.
While the company's fresh pies are sold as far north as Maine, as far south as Virginia, and as far west as Ohio, Table Talk frozen pies can be found in stores across the country.
Mr. Kokkinis said freezing technology has helped Table Talk expand its pie production and ultimately reach more customers, while maintaining the fresh-baked quality of the pies. In addition, Table Talk also produces private-label pies.
While all of the Table Talk pie fillings are still made from scratch by bakers on site, the baking process is automated, allowing Table Talk to produce pies at a rate of 10,000 per hour.
Mr. Kokkinis said the recession has not hurt the pie business, noting that a store-bought pie may be a more affordable splurge than eating an entire dinner out.
"A 4-inch pie for under a dollar is one of the best values for a healthy snack," said Mr. Kokkinis, noting that Table Talk uses fresh fruit in its pies. "We are seeing sales of our pies increase, because it is a very good value for a family in these tough times."
Contact Donna Boynton by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ART: PHOTOS; CHART
PHOTOG: T&G Staff/PAUL KAPTEYN
CUTLINE: (1) Harry Kokkinis, general manager at Table Talk Pies in Worcester, with trays of freshly baked pies yesterday. (2) Kevin Sloan, a math teacher at Auburn High School, picks up pies donated to the school's annual Pi Day activities. (CHART) Table Talkin' numbers