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An awesome homemade pie could make anyone break out into song, but singer James Wright Chanel has taken things to another level in a now viral YouTube video where he serenades super star Patti LaBelle's Sweet Potato Pie, a pre-packaged dessert that's exclusively available at Walmart. Thanks to Wright Chanel's video, the pies were selling at a rate of one pie per second for 72 hours straight from Friday to Sunday this past weekend. Stores throughout the country sold out and a black market opened up, with pies selling on eBay for as much as $12,000 for door-to-door delivery (they're only $3.98 each in the store). But don't panic if you absolutely need to get your hands on one of these desserts from the Queen of Rock and Soul: there's more pie on the way according to the retailer.
"We've located a few thousand more in our distribution centers and this week we're processing them and routing them to stores where there's the greatest need for them," says John Forrest Ales, Director of Corporate Communications at Walmart. That means that if you live in Chicago or the state of Louisiana, the city and state where they've been the most popular and in-demand, you're more likely to find Patti LaBelle's Sweet Potato Pie. But get there fast and stock up now: "We're not sure if more will be available by Thanksgiving but we're working on it."
What's the hold up? "Our supplier completely ran out of sweet potatoes," says Forrest Ales. "We need 2 million pounds of sweet potato to make more pies. Our supplier's been working on sourcing all week and the sweet potatoes have been stocked back up but it's going to take a while to make them into a puree, then turn them into pies in the proper pie tins and boxes. Our focus is to get a solid inventory because they're going to be huge for Christmas."
LaBelle worked with Walmart's team to develop the recipe for the pie and it has only been on shelves since September with a retail price of $3.98 and a current roll-back price of $3.48. "Our buyers knew that it would be popular but sales are completely exceeding expectations because of the viral video," says Forrest Ales.
The Grammy-winner was so excited that she reached out to Wright Chanel to thank him for giving her pie such a glowing review in his viral video: "She kept telling me how much she loved me," he told a local news show in Chicago. "She kept telling me to be me. And she was like, boy, you can sing!"
Wright Chanel is becoming a mini celebrity at his local Walmart in Los Angeles where store associates and customers have been asking to take photos with him. Despite his new found fame and responsibility for helping to make the pie a best-seller, he's out of luck when it comes to getting another one of Patti Labelle's Sweet Potato Pies for the time being: "We love all our customers equally so we can't give him any special treatment, but we do have lots of thanks and gratitude towards him," says Forrest Ales.
The Walmart version of Patti LaBelle's Sweet Potato Pie may still be sold out but lucky for you, we have her recipe for her favorite homemade version:
For more pie inspiration, check out our Pinterest board!