Burn your “Keep Calm And Carry On” signs, everyone. We’re just weeks away from Super Bowl parties. And there may be no Velveeta.
It all began with an enterprizing report in Advertising Age, the trade publication, that noted some East Coast grocery stores were running out of Velveeta cheese — and didn’t know why.
Kraft declines to discuss the specific reasons for the shortage. It did, however, email USA TODAY this explanation from spokesperson Jody Moore ”This is really a short-term issue that’s more noticeable right now given the increased seasonal demand.”
Seasonal demand? For Velveeta?
“It’s not a seasonal product,” says Ken Albala, a culinary historian who teaches a class on “History of Food” at University of the Pacific in Stockton, Ca. “There is no dish served between Thanksgiving and Christmas that is quintessentially Velveeta.”
No, but there are many events that require Liquid Gold from December to February — college bowl games, the NFL playoffs, the Super Bowl.
But why today’s shortage? Sure, Velveeta costs a lot less than real cheese, but Albala doesn’t think this shortage is some statement about the still-wobbly economy. Nor does he think it was a stable for New Year’s Eve dips. Velveeta may see a spike in interest around Super Bowl time, he says, but that’s nearly a month away.
Albala thinks, perhaps, some very popular cooking TV show, website or magazine recently posted a recipe — or recipes — that called for Velveeta as an ingredient. “That’s all I can think of,” he says.
“It is possible consumers may not be able to find some Velveeta products on store shelves over the next couple of week,” says Kraft’s Moore, in the release. But, the release notes, “we have not heard many complaints from consumers so far.”
An appropriately distressed reaction from Sean Hackbarth:
— Sean Hackbarth (@seanhackbarth) January 7, 2014