NEW YORK - The latest pandemic casualty might hit New Yorkers especially hard in the gut. A mysterious cream cheese shortage has crept up, and the fear is real.
The Upper West Side institution Zabar's, for instance, needs 15,000 of cream cheese to get through the month of December. Yet they expect to run out by the beginning of next week, leaving just seven or eight more days to find a different supply.
Zabar's general manager Scott Goldshine said he called 10 suppliers — and nothing.
"Oh yeah, there's going to be a real issue, I guarantee it if there's no cream cheese," Goldshine said. "It's going to be an issue."
It isn't just a problem for Zabar's. Just about every New York City neighborhood has its favorite bagel stores. And for them, cream cheese is an essential item. Suppliers and food distributors say they are getting calls from hundreds of panicking bagel shop owners.
Adding to the mystery is the fact that nobody has said exactly why this is happening. Very few ingredients go into making cream cheese. And dairy production exists right in New York State. Insiders speculate that either one of the ingredients needed is in short supply, that materials needed for packaging have run out, or that a manpower shortage — for instance, a lack of truck drivers — is the cause.
But whatever the reason, or reasons, one New Yorker kept it real for everyone.
"With the world upside down, cream cheese is the only thing you don't have to worry about," she said. "Use butter!"