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Big Apple (Colborne) Report

Okay, so I tried the Big Apple for the first time, on my drive from Toronto to Ottawa.

Give it a miss. In the end, I did.

First of all, it's billed as a "theme park" and boasts having sold "2,540,255 pies". I drove in, past the rabbit-petting park and the mini-golf, and went inside. It is set up to receive tourists (you enter through turnstiles) but there was only one lone man eating a slice of pie, off in the corner.

The Big Apple sold 4 things: pie, caramel apples, tuna sandwiches (sad, on white bread, squished into saran wrap), and egg salad sandwiches (recall the tuna sandwiches). There were dozens of them lined up in the refrigerator, waiting for the tour buses.

I surveyed the pie slices (dozens of slices laid out) and they looked okay -- the crust appeared crumbly and flaky, if slightly too light in colour. The apple pie had a brownish centre -- maybe corn syrup in the apples? It appeared sticky.

It was early though (10:00 or 10:30 a.m.) and I didn't yet want a slice of pie, so I thought I would purchase a whole pie and take it to Ottawa with me to have later.

I selected the strawberry apple pie (again, it appeared very light in colour, slightly undercooked). Took it to the cash. The young cashier said it was $10.00. Good price.

So, I took out my $10 and asked for 4 forks (staying at a hotel in Ottawa, friends joining us, we'd dive into the stawberry apple pie later that day!). Behind the cashier were huge boxes of plastic forks (waiting for the busloads). She said "no, you can't have any forks, we don't charge tax on the whole pies." I said "Sorry??" "You can't have any forks." I said "Oh, I don't mind paying for the forks." She said "you can't have any forks". "What are those forks for?" I said. "They are for people buying slices of pie." It appeared not to be _economical_ to the Big Apple to sell a pie and give a customer 6 forks to go along with the pie. Better to sell 6 slices at $3.25 each and make $19.25 rather than $10.00 for a whole pie. I offered to buy the 4 forks for $5.00. A flat out "No" from the cashier.

Needless to say, I left the pie at the Big Apple.

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  1. My only experience with BA is with an apple pie a guy brought into work. It tasted pretty good but there were a few things wrong with it. First of all, they didn't peel the apples. Secondly, they just cut them up. Didn't even bother to core them. Or at least, did a lousy job of it. Very disappointing.
    I wouldn't go there.


    1. As someone who has visited just about every bakery in Southern Ontario and tried many, many pies, I can't recommend the Big Apple. Its pies are far too gummy and artifical tasting. And, I wasn't crazy about the atmosphere.

      For a slice of real, old fashioned pie, go to Kawartha Coffee Company, a charming cafe in Bobcageon, Ont. It sells tasty Fair Trade coffee, panini sandwhiches, etc. Pies and other baked goodies are supplied by a new cater/baker out of Gooderham. Pies sell for $15.

      2 Replies
      1. re: profchristine

        Who are the caterer/bakers in Gooderham? I pass through there on my way to the cottage and am always on the lookout for new spots. Do they sell to the public?

        1. I wouldn't put up with the 'service' either!

          1. well, I did try to warn you. hopefully the rest of your trip was better!

            1. DD, I just read your original post -- I probably would not have stopped in if I had seen it before I took off. At least I didn't actually have to eat the pie.

              The rest of the trip was great. Some excellent poutine in Gatineau and good oysters at Whalebone in Ottawa.

              Also hit a couple wineries on the way home in Prince Edward County.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mickeyj

                I have been looking for some great poutine. Can you remember where you ate?

              2. I feel your pain. When my husband and I lived in Kingston for several years, everybody, and I mean everybody, who came to visit us from TO and west (which include many family members) felt compelled to show up with one (or more, ugh) of their pies. Almost all of them use way to much cornstarch and are based on a heavy, soggy and way too thick crust. They make no flavour worthy of the calories it must contain.

                If you are making a TO-Ottawa trip, I would suggest Pan Chancho as a place worthy of a stop. They have yummy sweets, breads and sandwiches (I am a big fan of the chicken curry sandwich). It can get a little crowded with anxious profs/civil servants/old kingston bluebloods on Saturdays but it is still worth it. The Chez Piggy cookbook they sell there is well worth the money.

                1. The Big Apple is a total dive and harkens back to the toxic roadside tourist pits of my childhood.You can get a better apple pie frozen(and cheaper!) at Loblaws.Unless your bladder was bustin', I can't see the point of stopping. How does this dump stay in biz, suckers notwithstanding??

                  1. I have driven back and forth to Kingston hundreds of times. Even as a University student this place did not entice me. It screams tourist trap. I can't imagine why, other than out of desperation, anyone would stop there.
                    But Pan Chancho, where I ate lunch on Saturday in Kingston, is worth the diversion from the 401. So is the Saturday market behind city hall, and the butter tarts sold at one of the stalls!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: thenurse

                      Pies aside, the washrooms are FABULOUSLY CLEAN and DESERTED compared to anyplace else lining the 401. That's why I stop there, anyway. :)

                      1. re: thenurse

                        I made this very same trip 25 years ago, and I can vividly remember when they started the sad downhill slope. The son took over the buz and went commercial commercial commercial. Pathetic

                      2. We used to stop at the big Reid's Dairy just off the highway in Belleville. I don't know if its still there as I haven't stopped in a while, but they had the best milkshakes. So thick you needed a straw and a spoon.

                        By the way, for those Ottawans who need a quick fix, I just discovered that a gourmet store on Beechwood in New Edinburgh has just started selling Pan Chancho bread.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: smayes

                          Do you know the name of the store?

                          1. re: smayes

                            Reid's Dairy is still there. You can't miss it if you're driving east along 401 - they've build a ridiculous Disneyesque castle. They still do the milkshakes (which are still good). It's a bizarre place. It used to be more of a cheese shop - and I think there's still a cheese shop section - but they've really built up the snack bar side.

                          2. I too visited the Big Apple on the way to Ottawa... had a decent Caramel Apple... however I agree with TorontoJo, service by ANYONE should represent the type of business that is trying to be run. I would never return to a establishment if I was treated the way Mickeyj was...

                            1. I found this topic incredibly hilarious, because I actually live in the town of Colborne. The Big Apple is a huge joke to citizens, because it's pies are ridiculously terrible! It used to be a fun playground for children more than a "Theme Park". But, since the tour buses have found it, it's become a shame to most people living in Colborne. However, if you are ever in the area again, Colborne is a very nice little town with some other good places to go. If when getting off highway 401, you continue into the town you will find many GOOD places to eat. There is also a very nice little fruit market that has homemade pies and fresh grown fruits and veggies for good prices. Please do not let the Big Apple ruin your opinion of our little town.

                              1. Where in Colborne would you recommend? I have heard there's a good meat/sausage place out there, I think. When I was in Brighton this summer, they were selling some grilled Oktoberfest sausage made locally. I'd be interested to hear what you have to say about the local places.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Full tummy

                                  Restuarant wise in Colborne, The Royal Rooster is amazing, it's in the downtown sqaure, open for lunch and dinner. As well, for lunch only, The Queen's hotel/bar has some great pub grub, soup and sandwiches. REAL turkey and REAL gravy. Both places are very well priced for the quality you get. There are many places in Brighton (15mins east). Dougall's by the bay is a locally owned restaurant looking out over the bay/Lake Ontario. The meat/sausage place you asked about is Sunnyside Meats. It is on the road leading from the 401 into Colborne (Percy St.) It is a good meat market, but nothing overly fancy and out of the ordinary. Again, the fruit and veggie market, Rutherford's, has some frozen meats and things there. It is on Hwy 2 heading east, out of colborne and into Brighton. Hope this helps!

                                  1. re: camydal

                                    Thanks, camydal, for your suggestions. Have been to Dougall's and The Royal Rooster, but will try your other suggestions and check out Sunnyside Meats next time I'm out that way.

                                2. I think a lot of you are being harsh. We often stop at the Big Apple on the way to a friend's farm near Campelford. The pies are fine, in my opinion. Not great by any stretch of the imagination, but perfectly edible. The no sugar added apple pie is my personal favorite. Also got to say I never had problems with the service.

                                  1. I have to admit I haven't been to the Big Apple in quite a few years, but every time I've been there I've always enjoyed it. But maybe the service has gone down there and I just haven't been. If it's true then I'm sorry to hear it.

                                    1. I've driven by Big Apple a few times. Stopped off once with my wife. Interesting to see. We fed the animals, tried some pie. Tourist trap yes. Pie was OK, not special. Crust on slice of pie was already crumbled. We noticed all the pies cooling on the racks had crusts that fell apart. Atmosphere like a cafeteria. Not that much fun, could be better.
                                      We actually like the Apple Factory in Caledon\Brampton. It is a nice country-style market with fresh pies, good variety and reasonable price.

                                      1. I recently went to the New big Apple the weekend it opened in Cumberland beach, we have a cottage up in the Area so we knew about the Apple Coming and my kids were very excited to go. So we went i believe last Sat. When we walked into the store you could tell they weren't ready to be open, as when we came into the parking lot it was clear to me that Construction wasn't over yet, but they were still open. Once inside the store the employees were still stocking shelves with the gift store items. As for the pies they only had three kinds available, and they werent hot that morning.(nor could we smell them when we walked in.)
                                        The bakery where we thought we were going to be able to watch people baking was empty, and didn't look like there is going to be much going on down there.
                                        The sad part about this visit thou wasn't what i've already mentioned it was the man, i believe he was maybe a manager or supervisor of some sort, he was dressed in an apple uniform, more so than the others. But as my children and I looked at the items on the shelf the man was carrying on about the Customers and how 'they didn' want to drive their fancy cars on the packed gravel.' he said... but only with a few choice words sandwiched into that sentance.
                                        Now first of all, he didn't seem to care about his language or that there was customers in the store at the time. All i can say is i left, without a pie or anything else for that matter.

                                        Later i called down to the colborne location to find out who this man was at the Cumberland Beach Apple , and i was informed that the man i would have saw that day in the store was Ted, the Big apple owner.
                                        i wont EVER go back there, nor will my kids. i guess that man doesn't care about how people for see him or his business.
                                        good luck in the north.

                                        1. i'm grateful for their clean washrooms so i usually buy a coffee and if hungry i'll eat a slice of caramel apple pie.

                                          i used to drive back and forth between kingston and toronto and the washroom and coffee is usually the only reason i stop there.,,,, oh, maybe once in a while visit Larry the laama who used to be there....

                                          1. I have not been to the theme park, but have eaten the pie. A friend purchased one for take-away and was raving about it. We had said pie for dessert and it was nothing to rave about. I would and I will avoid.

                                            And FYI - they seem to have opened an outlet on Hwy 11.

                                            1. This place was such a waste of time....The food was terrible and way overpriced....they boasted about their fresh baked bread but it was hard and dry...There was also stems in that overpriced apple pie.....not great for a two year old - never going back there again - dont waste your time

                                              1. My two cents on the Big Apple is that it's a fun place to stop on your way to Kingston or Montreal and I wouldn't treat it to be anything more than a cool rest stop.

                                                The washrooms are clean, the gift shop is hilarious and you can have a slice of pie and stretch your legs around the petting zoo and grounds. I like the mumble crumble, but it isn't mind-blowing. More of a novelty thing and the sliced pies all look like a big lump - but tasty.

                                                Yes, I also agree the fork situation to be highly ridiculous!!!

                                                Lisa - The Hip & Urban Girl's Guide @ http://www.hipurbangirl.com

                                                Big Apple
                                                , Colborne, ON K0K1S0, CA

                                                1. I have two interesting tidbits about the BA.

                                                  #1 - When I was a tour guide we had to order the bus drivers NOT to go to the Big Apple, or else it was their default stop. Bus drivers get kickbacks for stopping there.

                                                  #2 When I worked for the CFIA I was looking into apple orchard pesticide safety and was reprimanded for asking too many questions. The Big Apple is owned by a large apple grower who had quite a bit of clout with the feds apparently.

                                                  Big Apple
                                                  , Colborne, ON K0K1S0, CA

                                                  1. I just tasted a no sugar apple pie from BA and could not eat it. The crust and apple chunks were not cooked enough, so I put the pie in the oven to bake some more hoping the crust would harden up. The piecrust didn't get crusty and the apple chunks didn't even soften up. They should take lessons from Farm Boy - their no sugar pies are 100% better. Sorry BW you lose!!!

                                                    1. This place serves some of the worst pie I have ever eaten.

                                                      The crust tastes like a thick, heavy, Wonderbread, sit in your stomach dough, not pie crust. The filling is completely devoid of flavour

                                                      Its only saving grace is the *very* clean washrooms