Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Just May Have to be Postponed

We're in a crisis, people. It's a crisis of national proportion, and I feel it's my civic duty to warn you.

We are having a pumpkin shortage.

Yesterday Kate was hosting her small group at our house, as she does every-other Wednesday night. She had very nicely asked me if I would make those yummy pumpkin squares that seem to pop up around this time of year. Sure, no problem. That's an easy request.

Or so I thought.

I had one hour between Bible study and the time I was to meet some friends for lunch so I thought I'd use my one hour wisely by stopping at the store to pick up the ingredients I needed for the pumpkin squares, namely . . . pumpkin. In a can. Is that so hard?

Apparently so.

I started at Jewel, our local grocery store that has pretty much everything I need . . . unless I need something at Trader Joe's and then I go there. Perusing the baking aisle (yes, I do know my grocery store, and I do know that that's where I would find the canned pumpkin--NOT with the canned fruits and vegetables), I noticed a gaping hole where the pumpkin should be.

Thankfully, a man was stocking the shelves, so I asked him, "Sir, where is the canned pumpkin?"

"Not here," he replied. "We don't have any, and you're not going to find any anywhere else either, unless some Mom and Pop store has some."

Blood pressure starting to rise. Don't panic, I told myself.

"Why?" I asked. "Why no pumpkin anywhere?" My language capacity was starting to get affected.

"Something happened to the pumpkin crop earlier this year. Libby's is trying to get more, but they have to wait until they have enough to distribute to a wider area before they send it out."

That must be grocery store lingo, because he lost me at "pumpkin crop." Just the mere thought of distributing that much pumpkin to the entire Chicagoland area, much less the entire country, makes my head spin. You'd never know I was raised on a farm.

I mean, hello?! Doesn't he know what season we're entering?? Pumpkin season, of course.

I began to imagine the fallout. No pumpkin cake. No pumpkin squares. No pumpkin bread or pumpkin pie. Might as well kiss Thanksgiving goodbye. I was getting depressed. So I put down my little shopping basket and left the store.

O.K., he said some Mom and Pop store might have it. I'll just check around. I've got time. And I headed down the street to Walgreens because everyone knows that if you need a weird item, no matter what it is, Walgreens will have it. And at this point, pumpkin was becoming weird.

No luck at Walgreens.

Or at McChesney and Miller--a true Mom and Pop store.

Or at Trader Joe's where they did have canned pureed sweet potato and pureed turnip root, but no pumpkin.

Or at Aldi.

Or at the second Walgreens I tried. (What can I say? I'm an optimist.)

I even stopped at Williams Sonoma where I worked one holiday season and talked to my friend Dana who said, "Oh, yeah, we carried pumpkin one year. It came in this cute green can with orange pumpkins all over it. Yeah . . . but we don't have it anymore." Gee, thanks, Dana.

Are you counting? That's seven stores. SEVEN! No pumpkin anywhere.

So I headed to meet my friends for lunch where my friend, Kim, had one last suggestion. "Have you tried Whole Foods?" Of course! Why didn't I think of that? I'll tell you why I didn't think of that. I am not a shopper extraordinaire like Kim is--she would think of every possibility.

"Why don't you call them before you head over there?" she suggested. "And if they have it, have them put a can at the front desk for you." Of course.

Well, to make a long story even longer, Whole Foods said they DID have pumpkin and that they would indeed put one aside for me. At this point I was regretting not asking them to put aside a whole case for me, but oh well. I only needed one.

After lunch I drove as fast as I could to Whole Foods and ran to the front desk to claim what felt like buried treasure. As soon as I opened my mouth, the woman at the desk grabbed my hands and said, "Oh, I'm so sorry! As soon as we hung up the phone I went over to check, and we didn't have any pumpkin. That's so weird because we just had some the other day. But here's a $5 gift card for your trouble."

At least I got that going for me anyway.

Just in case you're keeping track, that's 8 stores. EIGHT. Do I love my daughter or what?

I came home feeling quite dejected. I was going to have to move to plan B. But before I did, I checked my email. Wouldn't you know it, Amy had sent me a recipe for a Pumpkin Bundt Cake that she made the other day. I emailed her back and said, "Looks like I won't be making that cake, or any other cake with pumpkin. I've just been to 8 stores and can't find pumpkin anywhere."

Within minutes Amy texted me with this message: "I have 1 cup of pumpkin in my fridge leftover from the other day. Do you want it?"

Here's all I have to say about how Amy saved my day:

One can of pumpkin: $1.19

One tank of gas spent running around looking for pumpkin: $45

One lunch, to make myself feel better about not finding said pumpkin: $7

One wonderful friend with one cup of pumpkin in her fridge: Priceless

Update: Whole Foods called me this morning to say that they had received a shipment of their Organic Pumpkin. They set aside four cans for me, so I ran in to pick them up this afternoon. And, you know, I love Whole Foods for what they've done for me, and they did give me that $5 gift card, but please . . . $2.99 a can?! You have GOT to be kidding! Of course, I bought it anyway.


  1. Dang! I'm carrying around at this moment a recipe for pumpkin squares so I can get the ingredients to make them - guess not! Wonder if you could substiture another type of squash - have to ask Paula!

  2. Well then, I am heading to the store to see if we have canned pumpkin. Two weeks ago I bought a can. Now that I think about it....they did not have much of a stock!

  3. So sorry about the pumpkin shortage. In MN we're well stocked with pumpkin...what's the deal??? I just mailed 6 cans to my sister-in-law in Iowa to relieve her no-pumpkin stress. :)


  4. Hold onto that pumpkin, ladies! It's valuable!

    FaithWalker--welcome to my blog! Thanks for stopping by! Interesting that you have some, but IA doesn't. Hmmmm.

  5. you can order organic pumpkin online! i usually just drive down to the store for my pumpkin for my thanksgiving pumpkin cheesecake but i guess i better order it online (early) this year!

  6. I had the exact same experience two weeks ago when I was trying to make pumpkin bread. I wanted the smell of the bread to coordinate with the Yankee Candles I was burning...and a lovely treat to the potential buyers of our house.

    I was devastated. They told me it was "out of season." I'm like, "it's September...pumpkin is IN SEASON!"

    Then I realized it was everywhere. They do have pumpkin pie mix in the can. If I could figure out how to alter my recipes, I would try it.


  7. Thanks for the heads up! I will now look at every store every time I go! I cannot have a fall without my spicy pumpkin bread.

  8. Great post, Shelly! I'll be on the lookout for pumpkin around here, too. Gotta get caught up on your blog since I've been away for a while.

  9. Say it ain't so! I've been dying to make these Pumpkin Chocolate chip muffins for Bible Study..they make your house smell so good. I've been looking in the grocery stores while I shop, but haven't found any yet either. What will we do?