For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story, that’s the original idea that inspired the cart. In this experiment, customers get the order of the person in line ahead of them. Whatever they order goes to the lucky one to come after them, creating a chain of connected people.
I finally mustered the courage to play Pie It Forward. I was nervous to play because I was taking all control over which pie flavor the customer would receive. This wasn’t an optional game. The customer could either take the risk or walk away. A common question was “What flavor did they pick for me?” I wouldn’t tell. They had to agree to play before I would reveal their fate.
I was interested in finding out why people ordered what they did for the person to follow. The overwhelming majority chose a flavor they they found superior and they believed the next person would enjoy. One lady was from England and chose rhubarb for the customer behind her because she thought it was an under appreciated flavor here. Conversely, one guy wasn’t pleased that he received cherry. He chose cherry for the next person because “that’s what happened to me.” Heehee.
Only one person out of about forty walked away. He walked up and I described the game to him. His reaction “No. No, I don’t think so.” and wandered away. He wasn’t mean or angry, just politely declined.
Small groups of friends come together to have a little pie break. In these cases, they always elected someone who would take the risk of receiving the mystery pie flavor. Then the rest of them would get what they wanted. I believe the game aspect encourages people to come with friends.
I encouraged conversation between the folks in line, saying things like “you better make this guy right ahead of you your new best friend. He’s going to be the one choosing which flavor you get.” This generally worked well. There’s a cheerful mood around the pie cart, as you can imagine. Often times customers would hang around the cart and chat, which is a great dynamic to have.
I had fun. The customers (generally) had fun. I sold out in 2 1/2 hours. I declared it a success.
Follow @pieLabPDX on twitter or facebook for announcements about what games we’re playing plus mmmpie flavors. We’re located at NW 12th and Davis and are open Fridays from noon till the pies sell out, generally about 2:30 or 3:00.