The annual haunting hunt for Pillsbury Halloween ready to bake cookies

Pillsbury’s ready to bake Halloween sugar cookies sit snuggly in a bowl. Jacquelyn Sharga | Lariat

The trek to find the unBOOlievably good cookies

Since 1869, Pillsbury Company has provided 152 years worth of food products. From frozen breakfast biscuits and rolls to cake mixes, Pillsbury has a wide selection of consumer goods. Perhaps the best product Pillsbury provides for their consumers comes during the holidays. 

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and even Valentine’s Day have been deemed worthy of having ready to bake sugar cookies by Pillsbury made in their likeness. Not only are these cookies easy to make, but they are, in my very biased opinion, some of the best cookies invented.

So simple, yet so sweet. So soft, chewy and cute! It is possible, nay, very likely that the qualities previously listed are factors towards what makes these cookies an absolute pain to find in stores each year.  

“They’re the most crucial part of both holiday seasons,” said fellow cookie consumer and Saddleback college student Brooke Verdugo.

I decided that writing about the phenomenon that are these cookies would be a fun idea for an article. In theory, I was right, but the notion of this being a “fun” angle began to fade after the first hour of bouncing around between grocery stores.

Fun fact: not everything you see on the internet is true. For example, if a store says it has something in stock at a certain location, it’s very possible that they will not have it in stock at that location.

Target stop number one made me frustrated, seeing that they had Pillbury’s Scooby Doo sugar cookies in stock but not the ghost or pumpkin cookies that I so desired. At my second Target stop, I ran into a fellow cookie hunter who had a few things to say about the whole ordeal.

“You’d think they would make enough to last at least one day in stores,” said Orange County resident Susanne. “I shop here almost every other day and I’m starting to think they restock them on the days I’m not here on purpose.”

Susanne’s paranoia was justified, because I was starting to feel the same way after my third Target stop. I decided that maybe I should switch stores and headed to a Ralphs nearby. Long story short, Ralphs disappointed me.

Then I decided to head over to a Pavillions where I had a very insightful conversation with one of their workers.

“The cookies should be right here,” said Tony. “But it looks like we just ran out, haha!”

I was very happy they could laugh about it for me. I might sound like I’m being sarcastic and that’s because I am. Furthermore, I was definitely not frustrated at all. 

After Pavilions proved to be useless, I decided to call it and head home. My mom took pity on me and the amount of gas I just wasted and suggested I use her InstaCart account to see if they had any in stock.

Suddenly, I heard angels. That’s when I found them and I bought four boxes because that’s what everyone does once they can get their hands on some. For some reason, InstaCart doesn’t let you check out unless you have 10 dollars worth of goods, so I also ordered ice cream.

Almost immediately, I got texted by my InstaCart shopper saying that they were on their way to the store. This made me very excited.

About two minutes later, the same InstaCart shopper texted me saying that the store was out of stock with the cookies I had just spent money on. This made me very upset.

I allowed myself to have a “Karen” moment at this point and replied saying something along the lines of how InstaCart shouldn’t have let me order the cookies if they knew they didn’t have any.

Nadia, the InstaCart shopper, was very understanding, which could be seen in her reply of “yup.” Following her response, there was a lull in the conversation, until she finally broke the silence.

 “I asked them to check and see if they have any in the back,” said Nadia. “They’re looking now.”

 After a very suspenseful two minutes, Nadia confirmed that they did in fact have the cookies. Just like that, she was checking out and on her way. 

 At this point my mom and I were both equally anxious for the cookies to arrive. Pacing back and forth, for goodness knows how long, because these cookies have time-bending powers. And I know what you might be thinking:

 All this? For a box of cookies?

 And to you, I say that this is not just a box of cookies … It’s four boxes of cookies. Furthermore, the cookies within these boxes provide me enough serotonin to make up for the fact that I was robbed of a graduation back in 2020. Yes, I’m still salty.

Suddenly, the doorbell rang. My mom and I looked at each other in shock because the doorbell almost never rings. This meant someone, who was not a regular, was at our door … This meant that the cookies were finally here.

I peaked out of my front window, waited for Nadia to get back into her car and texted her my thanks before Usain Bolt-ing to my front door. I snatched up the bag, threw the ice cream in the freezer and stared in awe of the cookies that laid before me. 

If not for my mom’s company, nothing would have stopped me from ripping open one of the boxes and eating the cookie dough raw. Which you can do, it even says that on the box, but in the oven is where the magic happens. 

I toned down my Tasmanian Devil level of energy to prepare my kitchen. I decided to make one box and hoard the rest until further notice. I politely asked my mom to grab her camera in preparation for the photoshoot I planned on giving these cookies and preheated my oven to 350 degrees.

Fast forwarding through me inevitably eating two out of the 20 cookies raw, the cookies were done. While in the oven, the cookies puffed up and filled the kitchen with a salty sweet smell. 

Only growing in size a few centimeters, I felt like a proud mother having just watched her babies grow up right before her eyes … But I’m going to ditch that analogy now because this mother fully planned on eating her children.

I prepped a clear plate and an orange bowl for the photoshoot and waited for my babies- I mean, cookies to cool before setting them up. The cool down process only takes about three minutes, but, since I’m impatient when it comes to food, there were some casualties.

Shortly thereafter, they were ready to go. I started with them on the cutting board, in sort of a cookie army type scenario, and began contorting my body in absurd positions to get the perfect angle.

“Cookie, cookie, over here!” I didn’t say, because I’m not that crazy. “Ooh, yeah, just like that! Over the shoulder, nice!”

I ended up taking about 200 photos of the cookies, which was both productive and counterproductive, because I’m the most indecisive person I know. This meant I had to put the fate of the cover photo of this article into the hands of my Instagram followers because social media runs my life.

Eventually, the socially acceptable amount of time had finally passed for me to be able to divulge in some cookie consumption. Here is my honest review of the cookies: The Pillsbury Ready to Bake Halloween sugar cookies are the perfect amount of salty and sweet, soft and crunchy and the cute designs add a bonus aesthetic feature. 

“Living in a dorm has shown me how quintessential Pillsbury Halloween cookies are,” said aspiring baker and California State University Long Beach student Amelia Go. “In my building, there are three communal kitchens, one for the upper level floor, and during each week of October, someone was making these Halloween cookies!”

Part of me wants to say that the hunt I had to find these cookies was well worth it, but the petty part of me disagrees. It doesn’t help that my mom sent me a photo the next day from the same Pavillions I went to of the cookies back in stock with their additional ghost design. 

In the long run, I feel like this “pirate searching for their buried treasure” adventure story will be a fun one to tell during the upcoming spooky seasons, but for now I will remain salty about the inconvenience of finding these absolutely amazing cookies.

If you see them, buy them! None of that “I’ll circle back later for them.” Don’t hesitate or they’ll be gone.