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The Great Velveeta Shortage of 2014

I’m not a disciple of Velveeta cheese; frankly, I prefer the real thing to the processed fake stuff. But I refuse to have a shortage of Velveeta and Ro-Tel cheese dip on Super Bowl Sunday. If I have to do without the Cowboys on that day (something I’m getting used to) then I won’t lose my dip. It’s not going to happen.

Yet, here we are with Kraft, the maker of Velveeta, claiming that there is a temporary shortage of what it terms in its best PR/marketing hyperbole “Liquid Gold.” Hmm. So, during the one time of year that there is truly a mass demand for this stuff Kraft is experiencing problems getting their product on the shelf. Really?

For its part, Kraft claims “limited availability of some Velveeta products in many stores nationwide” due to “minor manufacturing challenges and heightened by the seasonal demands.

Do I taste a conspiracy here? Is Kraft creating a phony-baloney shortage to hike demand for their goo? Social media sure thinks so, questioning whether there is an actual shortage. In fact, there is even a name for what’s going on — Cheesepocalypse.

If Kraft has cleverly — or not so cleverly depending on how you look at it — self-created this shortage then it wouldn’t be the first time a run on a mass market product has been manufactured.

In December of 1973, Tonight Show host Johnny Carson joked about a shortage of toilet paper. The joke was part of his nightly monologue, but this time it hit home when consumers — as they often do — panicked and made a run on stores, clearing shelves and hoarding everything they could get. Those empty store shelves stayed empty for awhile creating the illusion that there really was a shortage. The toilet paper manufacturers were caught off guard by this sudden run on their product which — ahem — wiped out inventory in stores. TP factories temporarily switched to 24-hour production runs and even invited television news cameras into their factories to show the public that there was plenty of toilet paper for the country’s needs.

Eventually, everyone calmed down and the run subsided. Unfortunately, stores and manufacturers were left with cases of production over-runs that took months to sell off. This was a textbook case on how rumors spread.

Gun owners have experienced this in recent years. Rumors of President Barack Obama’s intentions to take our guns and bullets has led to a run on guns and even more so on ammunition. Though the Obama administration has made no real dent in restricting ammunition to Americans, the threat and hysteria that came with it is still felt today as firearms and ammunition dealers are still trying to recover. The hoarders, however, remain intent on gobbling up ammunition as soon as it makes its way into stores despite the reality of the situation.

Will we see the same thing with Velveeta in the coming weeks? Will it really be “Liquid Gold” of just Fool’s Gold? Time will tell.

Rodney Williams is the managing editor for The Anna-Melissa Tribune and the Van Alstyne Leader. He can be contacted at news@amtrib.com or rwilliams@vanalstyneleader.com.

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