If there's a dessert dear to the hearts of Oklahomans, it's pecan pie. And if there's been a pecan pie Oklahomans have been willing to travel for, for years its name has been Field's.

Today, you may not have to travel any farther than the grocery store for a sample, because Field's pies are marketed throughout Oklahoma and the states around us. And the pies that once came from a Field family kitchen now roll out of giant ovens in a modern factory, 13,500 square feet of complex machinery and precast cement, baking since 1975.

Though it's pecan pie that's made them famous - and makes up 85% of their sales - the Fields and their employees actually bake four kinds of pies: Pecan, German Chocolate, Lemon Chess, and Pumpkin. All are frozen fresh from the oven and only have to be thawed to serve.

A lot of tradition goes into every one. It all started when two brothers, Lee and Julian Field, opened a small restaurant, Field's Tavern, near the corner of Paul and Walnut in Pauls Valley. After World War 1, the brothers bought the corner the cafe' stood on, which became one of the busiest in town when U.S. 77 was constructed. The brothers began with a filling station, then added cottages, and in 1925 the restaurant, to become a one-stop service center for travelers.

Each morning seven days a week, their wives cooked pastries in their homes for the restaurant. Hazelle, Julian's wife, had her hands in flour and shortening making 15 to 50 pies, while Zora baked cakes. By 1953 demand, particularly for pecan pies and red-devil cakes, became so great that bakery was put in at the restaurant. Hazelle and Zora trained women to bake their specialties and then retired. "When Dad closed at night, two or three women were locked in to bake for the next day," Julian Field Jr. remembers.

People in other areas of Oklahoma began to ask for the pies, so the Field's bought a delivery truck. Each morning a student at East Central State College filled it with pies, which he delivered in Ada, Seminole and the surrounding area when he wasn't in class.

In 1962 an old building in downtown Pauls Valley was converted into a pie plant. The Fields hired 30 people and ran three shifts, 24 hours a day, with two shorter shifts on weekends. Each baking day nearly 3,000 pies came from the ovens.

When the brothers retired, the businesses were divided, and Julian took the restaurant and pie business. "I grew up under the business naturally." By 1967 the Fields had five trucks supplying fresh pies to Oklahomans. Julian Jr. and his wife, Wanda, realized expanding sales meant the company needed a new approach. They decided to bake pies in even larger quantities with a new plant and freeze them so that they'd be able to ship to a wider market.

In 1975 the Fields opened the new plant, closed the old one and continued to employee 30 people. (A number of those employees have been with the Fields from the beginning: husbands and wives - mothers and daughters - three generations of one family - all working together in the plant.)

With the new equipment those same employees could produce 8,000 pies in one eight-hour shift. The Fields went to a broker system of distribution, with warehouses in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Dallas, Lubbock, Tx., El Paso, Tx., Phoenix, Az., and Clarksville, Ar.

In 1984, Field's Pecan, Lemon, and German Chocolate pies were certified as Kosher and Dairy.

The tradition of Field's pies has passed to a new generation when Julian Field Jr. retired in 1993. Two of Julian's children Chris Field and Jenny Wallace have taken the business over.