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In-N-Out is facing a yellow pepper shortage

Brenna Houck
An employee prepares burgers for lunch customers at In-N-Out in San Marcos, California.
Irfan Khan | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

In-N-Out fans who enjoy a little heat with their Double Double burgers by way of bright-yellow, pickled peppers are experiencing withdrawals. Foodbeast reports that the beloved California-based burger chain's pepper supplier is facing a major shortage this spring. A memo reportedly issued in mid-May directed that employees should ration chilies and only provide customers "with one souffle cup (2 whole chilies) per request." The letter notes that sliced chilies are reserved for "burgers only."

The shortage appears to be widespread, affecting not only In-N-Out restaurants but also Carl's Jr., Zankou Chicken, and Subway, which includes sliced peppers among its sandwich toppings. A customer inquired about the shortage to Subway's corporate Facebook page in April, and the company responded that "the weather has affected the growers' supply of banana peppers." A Reddit thread also notes the widespread shortage.

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According to Munchies, "bad weather, disease, and poor soil conditions" have reduced supplies of the yellow chilies, known as cascabella peppers, by 60 percent this year — an industry record. Robert Walker of El Pato, a chili supplier for Carl's Jr. says his company is fielding calls from desperate restaurants. "We get a call from somebody who said, 'We know you have chile,' and the answer is, 'Get in line,'" he says.

Meanwhile customers are pining for their once abundant chili peppers.

The good news is that a fresh batch of chilies will hopefully be harvested and pickled within the next few weeks, meaning supplies could be back to normal in July.

Abrupt changes in weather and climate, as well as fluctuations in demand can have a devastating impact on food supplies. Some might recall the great Chipotle carnitas crisis of 2015. This year, the world is facing a Scotch shortage resulting from the rapid increase in popularity of the beverage over the last decade. Major chocolate makers are investing in sustainability programs to help head off a worldwide cocoa shortage. The best alternative to chocolate — Madagascar vanilla — is also facing a price surge due to last year's poor harvest.