A distant cousin of the Scotch Pie, Clark’s Pies, founded by Janet Maud (Mary) Clark in 1909, were first made in Cardiff at 93 Donald Street, Roath.
By 1928, despite a brief pause in production during the First World War, the pies were becoming so popular with the people of Cardiff that a larger production site became necessary and another shop at 110 Paget Street, Grangetown, Cardiff opened.
Pie making was once again temporarily, but only briefly, suspended during the Second World War, owing to the necessary restrictions of meat rationing.
Over the years, Mrs Clark had seven children, several of whom followed her into her Clark’s Pie business, opening their own Clark’s Pie bakeries in Bristol, Swindon, Reading, Newport, Gloucester and even one in Cardiff.
Over the decades many more businesses were added to Clark’s Pies, and though many have subsequently closed, and they are still going strong in Cardiff, being made at the last remaining Clark’s Original Pies bakery at 23 Bromsgrove Street, Grangetown.
This trademark is still stamped into the bottom of every Clark’s Original Pie.
The last twelve months has seen the development of packaging and a longer shelf life on the pies which was achieved without additives or preservatives and the company is keen to progress and keep up with new developments whilst still retaining the image of being Cardiff’s traditional pie which remains an institution in Cardiff and South Wales. Indeed, the pies have entered Cardiff folklore and the nickname “Clarksies” is often used to demonstrate the city’s “Kairdiff” accent complete with the long, hard “a”.
The exact recipe is a closely guarded secret containing beef, vegetables and gravy. Unusually for a pie, the pastry is thick enough not to require a foil tray. Each pie has the word “CLARPIE” stamped into the pastry. Knives and forks are not required; the pastry is thick enough to pick up and eat in the upright position without crumbling or becoming soggy. Indeed, the burning caused to the upper lip by the hot filling is nicknamed a Clark’s Tash.
“I can’t remember not having a Clark’s Pie. As soon as Cardiffians saw the Millennium Stadium they fell in love with it. They didn’t realise why. It’s like a giant Clark’s pie with four cocktail sticks in it.”