It’s the great pumpkin shortage, Charlie Brown!
The town of Morton, Illinois is without question the pumpkin capital of the world. Morton grows more pumpkins than any other place in the world. Each September, the local Chamber of Commerce proudly rolls out the Morton pumpkin festival, which draws approximately 60,000 visitors. This year’s event featured dozens of rides and attractions, art displays, a pumpkin parade, and even – big news! – a visit from the Budweiser Clydesdales.
However, the mood this year was decidedly sober. Even a rousing musical set by the Coco Loco Band, a Jimmy Buffett cover act, couldn’t raise the mood of the town or hide the obvious missing element of this year’s pumpkin festival: there were hardly any pumpkins. That’s because, for the second year in a row, wet conditions caused the vast majority of Morton’s pumpkin crop to die on the vine. It’s the worst pumpkin performance that the folks in Morton have ever seen.
Sad news indeed, but it’s just a few bad harvests, right? Certainly nothing to be too concerned about…until you realize that Morton is home to the sole pumpkin processing plant for the Libby’s division of Nestle. And Libby’s commands a ridiculous 85% share of the market for canned pumpkins and pumpkin pie filling. Making the little town of Morton almost solely responsible for filling 90 million pumpkin pies each year. This isn’t a shortage, it’s a pumpkin famine. If you love pumpkin pie, your Thanksgiving has been, um, squashed.
Just another sad item in an ongoing season of shortage. But cheer up, even in times like these, there are bright spots. Unusually cold weather in Washington, Michigan and New York didn’t impact their crops, as many had feared. In fact, many areas are producing bumper harvests. So give a thought to the folks in Morton, and consider yourself lucky. You can still stuff yourself with as many apple, blueberry and cherry pies as you can eat.