When the pandemic first began to rapidly spread, people responded in many ways. Many of us began to wear masks and frequently washed our hands as we sang “Happy Birthday” two times to …
When the pandemic first began to rapidly spread, people responded in many ways. Many of us began to wear masks and frequently washed our hands as we sang “Happy Birthday” two times to ourselves. It is unclear how scientists decided that two times was necessary, but who am I to question their advanced degrees. I still sing that song twice while washing my hands. But to be safe, I now add the booster of the “How old are you now” coda.
The virus brought out another response. We have become a nation of hoarders. I first witnessed the hoarding response when Covid-19 became front page news. Venturing to our supermarkets and Walmart, I realized that others had beat me to it. I am talking about paper products. I was confronted by empty aisles where once toilet paper, napkins and paper towels packed the racks. People were preparing for a long haul of isolation and apparently many trips to the bathroom.
Now as we enter another potential spike in Covid-19 cases, we might be seeing hoarding of a different sort…cream cheese. As reported in the news, there is a nationwide shortage of cream cheese. Like other shortages, the near empty shelves of cream cheese in supermarkets are blamed on the breakdown of the supply chain caused by lack of workers and company shutdowns. We have all seen those images of hundreds of container ships anchored off our shores without the ability to unload. I imagine they contain items that are normally readily available to us. But I doubt if there is a container ship packed with vats of cream cheese.
It turns out that the cream cheese shortages may have also been caused by a cyberattack on the largest cheese manufacturer in the country. Schreiber Foods located in, where else, Wisconsin, was hacked disrupting their cream cheese production. Their subtraction from the cream cheese supply chain is being felt nationwide during this holiday season. Besides being schmeared on bagels, cream cheese is an ingredient in many recipes.
The cream cheese shortage really hits home. I will certainly miss having my schmear on a morning bagel but the shortage hits home for another reason. According to lore, mass produced cream cheese was invented in nearby Chester, New York! In 1873, a dairy farmer named William Lawrence was the first to mass-manufacture what we know as cream cheese. Soon others helped him market his product and eventually the brand started using the name “Philadelphia.” I guess Philadelphia sounded more of a foodie locale than Chester. Eventually it was sold to the Kraft company. Many decades later, Robert Kraft bought football’s New England Patriots who regularly schmear their opponents.
Cream cheese was a staple of the morning meal when summer visitors flocked to our Sullivan County hotels and bungalows in the 20th century. After a bathroom break and snack at the Big Apple Rest, they soon drove past Chester. They never realized that Chester, and not Philadelphia, was the site of the beginning of the nationwide cream cheese craze.
If you cannot have bagels and cream cheese for breakfast, you can go to another crowd favorite…pancakes. Well maybe not, because there is also a maple syrup shortage. According to the Quebec Maple Syrup Producers Association, the yearly harvest of maple syrup was extremely low this year. To tap trees to produce syrup, the temperature must be around freezing. So, the global warming of our planet meant less syrup. Maple syrup is very important to the Canadian economy. Quebec, which produces 75% of the world’s “blonde gold,” has, pardon the pun, “tapped” into the nation’s backup supply. They have released 50 million pounds of the sweet, sticky stuff which was half their reserve stockpile.
If the supply chain of maple syrup dries up, I hope the production of cream cheese recovers. If so, I will be able to join my friends for breakfast at IHOB. The International House of Bagels.
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