In a recent Passover article, The New York Times reported that gefilte fish was in short supply this year. During this past harsh winter, the Great Lakes – where gefilte fish roam free – were frozen with four feet of ice that was slow to thaw, making it difficult for fisherman to catch white fish.
Large companies like Manischewitz were spared any shortage because it buys its fish up to a year in advance, freezing it to mix later with fresh fish. But delis and small gourmet purveyors, who don’t have the buying power, had trouble meeting their customers’ demand for their ubiquitous Pesach appetizer.
In our last blog, we wrote about the abundance of products in the supermarket. It’s ironic that this week we’re writing about products that are in short supply.
In the run up to Rosh Hashanah, when noodle kugels are on the horizon, no one wants to get caught without the 12-ounce bags of fine egg noodles that their family prefers. God forbid we should have to use wide noodles. We ensure our kugel’s integrity by stocking up on ingredients way ahead of time. (Maybe that’s why we always have a spare jar of crushed pineapple in the pantry).
Sometimes having too many choices creates a shortage. There are 12 varieties of bagels at the local store, but when we come up to the counter, why is the bin of poppy seed bagels always empty?
“They’ll be out of the oven in 7 minutes,” the cashier tells us. We can’t wait, so we’ll buy “everything” bagels and scrape off everything but the poppy seeds.
We were tempted to scrape the salt off the bagels this past winter to melt the ice on our driveways. Rock salt is another commodity that can be in short supply. During the recent polar vortex, hardware stores ran out and news reporters were kept busy, telling us where to run and buy the few remaining bags. Then they televised the crowds rushing to grab that last bag of salt – like the moms who line up at Toys R Us before Christmas to snag a Sparkle Eyes Barbie.
Other items are in short supply because we’re the only ones asking for them. We’re not looking for typewriter ribbons or film for cameras. We know these items are obsolete. We’re talking about products we’ve been using for a long time, which are suddenly hard to replenish. They’ve gone out of fashion right before our eyes, just as we use up the last drop.
Luckily, we can still go online and search. We just need our reading glasses to shop for mothballs, roll-on deodorant, shoe polish, and a certain brand of men’s tightie-whities that are the kind “that fit the best.” That husband won’t be tempted by Calvin Klein’s athletic-fit, pro-stretch boxer briefs.
When we googled “food shortages” to find out why the supermarket was low on chocolate chip cookies, we ended up on websites run by survivalists. They warned all good Americans – in supersized font and red, white and blue type – to stockpile seeds and water purification tablets and build backyard shelters to prepare for the coming apocalypse.
Forget canned goods and jugs of water. If we’re going to stockpile anything, it’s our favorites. We know what we love and don’t want to run out. In fact, we’ve already put in a supply of coffee and coffee filters, jars of hearts of palm (a favorite snack food in our house), Trader Joe’s chocolate bars with cookie and cocoa swirl filling, large bottles of Pinot Grigio, and Kelloggs Shredded Mini-Wheats. We may not have drinking water when the apocalypse comes, but we’ll have good snacks.