Everybody knows Miss Patti can throw down in the kitchen.
Patti LaBelle’s macaroni and cheese is the stuff of legend. It’s the sort of dish that would nudge even noted food elitist Gwyneth “I’d rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a can” Paltrow to acknowledge the healing powers of Velveeta. It’s been featured on “MTV Cribs,” along with LaBelle’s fried chicken and her hot sauce collection. This macaroni and cheese has been on “Oprah,” okay? It made Elton John see Jesus. If it had its own Twitter account, it would have a blue verified check.
Between this “Over the Rainbow” mac and cheese and her hits “Lady Marmalade,” “New Attitude” and “Somebody Loves You,” Miss Patti has more than guaranteed her place as one of America’s national treasures.
Apparently that wasn’t enough.
Now 71, LaBelle has a new title to add to her culinary resume: Sweet Potato Pie Empress.
It started with a video review of LaBelle’s pies, which are available at Wal Mart, posted Thursday by a man named James Wright.
This video contains explicit language.
After cutting open the box and taking a bite, Wright began to sing LaBelle’s lyrics. He does a pretty good impression of her, too. The video began to make its way around the Internet, and of course, the big question was whether or not Miss Patti’s sweet potato pie could possibly be as soul-stirring as Wright suggested. Wright, having never tasted one of LaBelle’s pies and operating on faith and the promise afforded by the presence of her face on the box, bought five pies at once. This turned out to be a smart move because since Wright uploaded his video, the pies have been moving faster than Wal Mart can keep them.
Later Thursday, having polished off the box, Wright posted a follow-up. “I hope when I get to heaven, they have Patti pieeeeeeee,” he belted out.
Here’s the thing: Due in large part to Wright’s first video — which has now been seen more than 7.5 million times on Facebook — demand for the pie has skyrocketed.
Conducting a small-scale experiment, this Post reporter called her local Wal Mart.
“Hi, do you have the –”
“Sweet potato pie? No we’re sold out,” said the chipper woman who answered the phone. “I’ve been keeping track. You’re the 79th person to call today asking about pie. Yesterday it was even worse!”
The employee estimated that a new shipment of pies would grace the bakery “early in the week,” either Monday or Tuesday, and she advised calling early in the morning.
Wal Mart’s own house-made pies have been left sitting on the shelves. For sweet potato pie aficionados, it’s either Patti Pie or bust.
— Cishette Michele (@steenfox) November 14, 2015
— Brittanye D. Calhoun (@LadyDeara) November 14, 2015
Wright told Chicago’s Fox 32 News that he was in tears when LaBelle called him Friday morning to thank him for making her pies this season’s must-have item.
“She kept thanking me and she kept telling me how much she loved me and she just kept telling me to be me,” Wright said. “She was like, ‘boy, you can sang!'”