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Food: Bagel lovers shed a tear for schmear over NYC cream cheese shortage

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The schmear shortage is real.

  Bagel lovers shed a tear for schmear over NYC cream cheese shortage © Provided by TODAY

A cream cheese shortage has hit one of the country's most popular bagel destinations and local business owners are definitely feeling it.

As first reported by The New York Times, New York City restaurateurs have been scrambling to find the raw materials to make the cream cheese spread that their customers love so much over the past few weeks amidst manufacturer supply chain issues.

You might be wondering: Can't bagel shops just go to their local grocery store and stock up on the same cream cheese that we all buy? But the answer apparently isn't that simple. Bagel makers, according to the Times, receive an "unprocessed and unwhipped" raw product that they then use as a base to create their own variety of cream cheese (hence all those one-of-a-kind flavors that bagel shops offer).

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For this very reason, the cream cheese apocalypse of 2021 seems to be isolated to local bagel shops and it doesn't seem to be affecting grocery stores, as reported by Fast Company.

So, what's causing this sudden shortage of cream cheese? There are multiple theories, including a rise in demand and one that suggests that it's pegged to a cyberattack issue on Schreiber Foods in Wisconsin, aka the largest U.S. cheese manufacturer.

According to Bloomberg, the distributor closed for a few days in October after hackers "compromised its plants and distribution centers." Since the company has so many customers, a shutdown of even a few days could be responsible for creating a ripple effect, like the current shortage that NYC is facing.

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With news of the statewide cream cheese conundrum spreading, some locals have been getting a little nervous that they might have to stock up on cream cheese at the grocery store, or worse, eat their bagel plain when they stop by their local deli.

Many people are wondering why New York City seems to be uniquely affected by the shortage right now and one Twitter user suggested that the ultra generous coating of cream cheese that New York delis are known for might be to blame.

Some folks felt the need to do some "research" (you know, in the name of science) to find out if their local deli was affected. And when they did, they made sure to send "proof of life" photos to manage others' fears.

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A few brave souls reported back from the front lines and warned their peers that it's time to "prepare for the worst."

Some particularly alarmed social media users suggested that it's time to take action to help head off the impending cream cheese crisis.

Others found some humor in the the whole situation, like one Twitter user who wrote, "If Jews control the world, explain the cream cheese shortage. You can’t."

The shortage is beginning to affect many NYC hotspots like Junior's Restaurant, which is known for its cheesecakes. During the holiday season alone, the restaurant sells more than a million cheesecakes and 85% of the dessert is made with cream cheese.

"We are using so much getting ready for the holidays. The plant we get it from is experiencing supply issues," Alan Rosen, third-generation owner of the restaurant told TODAY Food via email.

The restaurant even had to go to Pennsylvania to pick up a trailer of cream cheese and another four to five trailers are on their way this week.

"We are back to baking today," Rosen said. "Hopefully, this production will continue."

The takeaway? Folks can rest assured that the city's restaurants are doing everything they can to ensure that customers can enjoy that delightful spread they love so much.


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