The Great Velveeta Shortage of 2014

I ran across this image and quote this morning on the Facebook page of “Humans of New York,” a sort of social art project that pairs photos of New Yorkers with a quote about them or their lives, documenting “New York, one story at a time.”

Humans of New York Russia

Then, I came across this story. We live in a country where a momentary shortage, that has not yet even materialized, of a specific, beloved processed cheese product, is a national news story deemed worthy by citizens of being suffixed into a “-pocalypse”


Playoff parties may have one fewer dip option this year.

Kraft Foods says some customers may not be able to find Velveeta cheese over the next few weeks. A representative for the company, Jody Moore, didn’t give any reasons for the apparent shortage, saying only that they happen from time to time given the “nature of manufacturing.”

She noted that the lack of availability is more noticeable because of the seasonal demand during the NFL playoffs. The company has been airing TV commercials featuring a recipe for a chili con queso dip made with Velveeta.

Moore says it should be a short-term situation and that Kraft hasn’t yet heard from any customers who are having problem finding the products. She did not say whether the company experienced a similar shortage last year.

The trade publication Ad Age reported the issue Tuesday, quoting an employee at a Brooklyn-area grocery store who didn’t expect shipments again until February due to “a plant issue.”

The uproar over this temporary possible shortage of just one of the thousands of processed and natural cheese products available to us obscures the fact that a) there are hundreds of processed and natural cheese products within our grasp every single day, as Americans, depending on location and grocery stores and b) that there is virtually never an interruption in cheese delivery to the millions of Americans who want cheese and cheese products. Cheese comes to our local stores from far-flung places in predictable quantities, with seasonal adjustments for playoff chip-dip scenarios with nearly perfect consistency (Velveeta pun!)

Many will scoff and say the regular, near-perfect delivery of cheese is nothing, but it’s damn near miraculous, and a historical anomaly to be so well-supplied with cheese of all varieties that those who used to worry about a lack of cheese are now compelled to write laws limiting our cheese intake for us. One of capitalism’s greatest weaknesses is the invisible hand works so well its untold maneuvers are easy to take for granted. Until you’re sitting there, for the first time in your life, with a lonely can of Rotel.