Say it isn't so!
There is one specific shortage that is threatening a beloved and quintessential New York City staple: cream cheese on a fresh bagel.
That's right. According to the New York Times, bagel makers across the Big Apple are saying their supply of this treasured spread is running low, perhaps even dangerously low!
In one instance, the NY Times spoke with a vendor who only had days-worth of cream cheese.
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"Now, New York’s bagel purveyors are starting to feel the effects in a sudden and surprising development that has left them scrambling to find and hoard as much cream cheese as they can," the NY Times reports, adding that New York bagel sellers go through thousands of pounds of the spread every few weeks.
Cream cheese originated in New York in the 1870s, according to the Kraft Heinz Company. But, even as the recipe calls for a simple ingredient list involving lactic acid, pasteurized milk and cream, the reality of the shortage has bagel shop owners scrambling.
In interviews with owners and workers at about 20 bagel shops and delis across the city, the Times reports that many of them said they "were frazzled, frustrated and rushing to find cream cheese after learning about the shortage in the past few days."
A number of these bagel shops start their mixes with Philadelphia cream cheese, a Kraft Heinz brand, which arrives on huge pallets, the Times reports. However, these pallets are not filled with the type of cream cheese found on most grocery stores. On the contrary, a raw product that is unprocessed and unwhipped arrives at the bagel shops, according to the New York Times. This allows for bagel makers to use it as a base for their own delectable creations.
But for about three weeks now, dairy suppliers said, the cream cheese orders they have placed with manufacturers have come up short. Unfortunately, this reality isn't much of a surprise since businesses and consumers around the world are currently facing lengthy delays on products and materials due to supply chain issues heightened by the ongoing pandemic.
In a statement to News 4 New York, Kraft Heinz said they are actually shipping more products than last year, and expect to see the "sustained demand" for the product continue.
"Kraft Heinz is known for our portfolio of iconic and beloved brands and we continue to see elevated and sustained demand across a number of categories where we compete," the company said in its statement. "As more people continue to eat breakfast at home and use cream cheese as an ingredient in easy desserts, we expect to see this trend continue. As such, we’re shipping 35% more product to foodservice partners, such as bagel shops, vs. year-ago."
The schmear thought of having to go without cream cheese was too much for some people to take, who said the spread is the best part of the bagel.
"I don't think anyone should go without cream cheese," said Anthony Cirelli, who is from another cream cheese hub, Philadelphia. "It's sad, but I think it's something we can work through."