By Lara Naaman
Pattie LaBelle’s Sweet Potato Pies. (Photo: Samantha Bolton for Yahoo Food)
Confession: Trying to get my hands onto a Patti LaBelle Sweet Potato Pie turned me into a monster.
By now the entire country is trying to get their hands on one of Patti LaBelle’s moist, high-note inducing Sweet Potato pie. But you know who has two forks in one right now? Me. Here’s how I did it.
I saw James Wright’s hilarious viral video review of Patti’s pies this past Friday, along with the rest of America. After I was done laughing, I realized — I had to have one of Patti LaBelle’s pies.
Sitting right smack dab in the middle of Yahoo’s New York City office, I thought it couldn’t be too hard to get one of those delicious pies in front of me. So I did a quick online search: ‘Walmart Manhattan.’
Guess what — the city that has everything doesn’t have a Walmart. The closest branch is in New Jersey. And they won’t ship you a pie.
Since Friday, Wal-Mart’s sold about $1 million worth of Patti’s Pie. The Sweet Potato pie product page is currently the most-visited food site on Walmart.com, a rep told Yahoo Food. In fact, Walmart had to call sweet potato suppliers for reinforcements to keep up with demand. “We need about 2 million pounds of California Sweet Potatoes!” Walmart’s John Forrest Ales told his produce department.
Meanwhile, I was desperate. I tried my friend Naomi — her mom lives near the Mall of America, and always gets her hands on the hot Target designer collaborations that sell out immediately in New York. “Walmart won’t ship me any Patti Pie!” I texted. “Want me to put Mom on it?” she asked, like there was any question in the matter.
The author, gripping her Patti LaBelle Sweet Potato Pie. (Photo: Samantha Bolton for Yahoo Food)
Naomi called ahead to the Bloomington, Minn., Walmart, which confirmed they had the pies in stock. Mom (who does not want to be named in this story so as not to encourage us to send her on these errands in the future) agreed to drive the 20 minutes to the store. “She’s not happy about going on a Saturday,” texted Naomi. “We’re Target people.”
Mom arrived to find about 6 pies still in stock, with no crowds and no one even hovering near the bakery. She picked up two — one for Naomi and one for me. But as luck would have it, Naomi has a peanut allergy, and the box says the pie “may contain almonds coconut, macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts, and soy.”
That meant more pie for me! “That video may be funny, but these pies could be deadly to you,” Mom told her angry daughter. Naomi’s peanut allergy was my victory.
After Mom carefully researched, compared, and contrasted the food shipping options offered by FedEx and UPS, she FedExed the pies to me Monday morning. “I would rather they stay in my fridge than some dusty warehouse all Sunday,” she said. Smart cookie!
When the package arrived Tuesday morning, I ran up the stairs, snatched it out of the mail guys’ hands, and ran to the executive floor. I sit in an open plan office, where my colleagues have developed sonic hearing that detects the sound of free food being opened. No way was anyone getting near my Precious.
Vibrant orange slides of Patti LaBelle’s Sweet Potato Pie. (Photo: Samantha Bolton for Yahoo Food)
Not revealing my sources, but I have been made aware of a secret refrigerator there. I opened the package and hid the two pies in the fridge until lunchtime.
After a few hours of diligent work during which I totally wasn’t just daydreaming about pie, I ran back to the secret fridge with two Yahoo Food editors, and carefully removed one pie from its box. We plated it gently and snapped a few photos, salivating the entire time.
Then, for journalism, I ate a piece. I had some forks, but decided I should try my first piece as Mr. Wright did — without heating it, and using my hands.
It was, as Mr. Wright reported, moist. The crust was flaky. And maybe this is just common to sweet potato pie as a genre, but it had a slightly vegetal aftertaste. The overall flavor was sugar with just a mild backnote of kale. Maybe that goes away when you heat it? To be honest, after one piece, I did not hit any high notes or low notes, and was happy to put the rest back in the fridge.
I can confirm that, unless you have some Patti LaBelle in you to begin with, this pie will not turn you into Patti LaBelle.
The author chows down on Patti LaBelle’s Sweet Potato Pie. (Gif by Samantha Bolton)
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