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It is hard to process
January 09, 2014, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal

It’s officially time for a meltdown. Kraft Foods has confirmed there is a Velveeta shortage. As not to cause complete panic on par with the past hits to the Eggo and Twinkie supply, official Kraft spokespeople (cheeseheads, shall we say?) have said in published reports that the lack of the nuclear orange cheese bricks is a “short-term issue” more noticeable now “given the increased seasonal demand.”

That’s right, we’re in processed cheese season. Falls right between the seasons for French’s green been casserole and candy-colored marshmallow Peeps.

There are likely better explanations for the absence of shelf-stable foodstuff — stocking up for the zombie apocalypse or postmortem End of Days predictions by Harold Camping, the new legality of recreational marijuana in Colorado, last-minute sculpting material for school projects. Kraft folks could have done better than offer up an excuse holier than a block of Swiss and smelling more wrong than a chunk of limburger.

But temporarily set aside the possible reason for the reported dip in Velveeta inventory and process the issue at hand — a possibility that the shortage, now apparently only on the East Coast, may make its way West and with it cause terror and alarm among the culinary-challenged, especially so close to the requisite Super Bowl parties. Will there be no nachos on the buffet table? Will the smorgasbord hold no dip options other than guacamole? And how the heck are we to salvage too-dry taquitos? We cannot be left with nothing but a block of real, honest cheese and our own devices in the kitchen. Declare an emergency now!

The Obama administration needs to stop wasting time on unemployment benefits and get to work on saving this pantry staple. Chances are the same audience stands to benefit in both cases.

Or perhaps another Obama is to blame for this debacle — Michelle Obama, that is. First Lady Michelle Obama with her anti-obesity, let’s-all-eat-broccoli-and-get-moving spiel. She might be the reason why we’ll have no liquid gold to slather over said broccoli.

Maybe the avocado lobby is behind this smear campaign, thinking if people believe Velveeta is off the table they will invest in smashing together even more guacamole. We are a nation that loves dips. And gravy. And cheese. Pretty much anything ooey and gooey and melty. Extra points for things in a spray can or squeeze bottle but if Velveeta is not available guacamole should suffice even for those who prefer their snacks a little less natural.

Actually, Kraft Foods is probably the one stirring up this tizzy in hopes of stirring renewed interest in Velveeta — not to mention its worth. Shortage anxiety over Eggo waffles, Twinkies, Sriracha and the like drove eBay prices on the food up to astronomical levels and consumers who hadn’t ingested anything unorganic or locally sourced for decades were suddenly fighting in grocery store aisles to nab the last edible vestige of childhood.

Leave it to Kraft to use fear to nab a little more cheddar. And leave it to the masses to eat it up. Next, the company selling Ro-Tel tomatoes and diced green chilis — a perfect queso dip combo with Velveeta, according to the ads — will take a hiatus.

The situation is marketing genius, no matter how you slice it.

Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor:



Tags: velveeta, kraft, michelle, obama, cheese, guacamole,

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