When you’ve got a crowd at your house for Thanksgiving, one of the best ways to lighten the cooking load is to pick up a pumpkin pie for dessert. In my family, that means a massive, 3-and-a-half-pound pie from Costco.
We were recently notified, however, that Sam’s Club also sells monster-size pumpkin pies. To us, Sam’s Club is a Bizarro World version of our beloved Costco, where everything is blue instead of red and the inventory is ever so slightly tweaked. Recognizing that there’s a Sam’s Club way of life means that — naturally — they offer pumpkin pies burly enough to feed the defensive line of the Dallas Cowboys.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and planning for the big meal is about to begin. In the spirit of experimentation, we decided to run our own blind taste test of Sam’s versus Costco’s pumpkin pie — with a ringer thrown in for contrast.
Just before a family birthday gathering over the weekend, I snagged pies from the two warehouse stores, plus a much smaller pie from King Soopers, Denver’s Kroger-affiliated supermarket chain. I chuckled when I saw the Sam’s pie was precisely one cent cheaper ($5.98) than the Costco pie ($5.99); other than that they were nearly identical. At 58 ounces, they even weighed the same.
The King Soopers pie was much, much smaller and rang up at $4.99. But we’re looking for quality, not quantity here, right?
Here they are, just before we began our blind taste-test. Left to right, we have: Costco, King Soopers, Sam’s.
I diced up slices of the pies and served them in bowls with secret labels. Each judge (my dad, brother, husband and sister) ranked the pies and offered notes. I also served chunks of just the crust, since I know that is of critical importance to Pie People. (I am not a Pie Person and left the judging to the experts.)
My esteemed panel of pumpkin pie connoisseurs convened shortly after dinner to begin deliberations. Each judge was given a small sheet of paper on which to record their rankings, as well as any thoughts that came to mind. There was some debate about whether to taste the pies with or without whipped cream, but we decided, for the purposes of Science, the tasters should experience the pies in their unadorned state.
The judges traded the pies and crusts as they nibbled, some sampling the bites more than once. Separating the crusts seemed to be a good idea, as everyone thoughtfully ranked those, as well. (Please ignore the festive birthday cake in the center of our very serious judging event.)
The votes were tallied, and the result left this family of Costco diehards shaken: By unanimous decision, the Sam’s Club pumpkin pie was declared the winner. Not only that, the Costco pie came in a decisive third — well behind the King Soopers pie. The crusts followed the same ranking.
Tasting notes on the Costco pie: “Sweet, sloppy.” “Mushy.” Regarding the crust? “Bland, dry, gritty.”
On King Soopers’ offering: “Good taste but weird texture.” “Soft crust, cinnamon taste.” The crust alone was deemed “tasteless” and “gross.”
As for Sam’s, the clear winner of our grand tasting: “Solid.” “Best.” And with a “supple, sweet” crust to boot.
Here she is, in all her glory, the winner of the St. John Family Pre-Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie Throwdown: The Sam’s Club pumpkin pie.
As my dad would say, “A beaut.”
Will you give the Sam’s Club pumpkin pie a try this Thanksgiving?