Cream cheese shortage forces Junior’s to pause cheesecake production



Shmear today, gone tomorrow.

Cream cheese shortages stemming from supply-chain issues have brought bagel purveyors — and a beloved Brooklyn cheesecake institution — to their knees as they do their best to milk their spread stockpiles for all they’re worth. 

Junior’s has been desperately struggling to lox in supply of the currently scarce dairy product — which is a vital ingredient in its namesake cheesecake — for several weeks, owner Alan Rosen told CNN. Indeed, the shortage is so bad the company had to pause cheesecake production at its New Jersey baking facility last Friday, Dec. 3.

“We’ve been scraping by,” said Rosen, who has been “getting cream cheese in sporadic supply and praying” that the famine ends soon. 

Cheesecake production was restarted Sunday but was set to pause again on Thursday, Dec. 9 — no small setback for the business that says December is its “busiest month of the year.” (The recipe for Junior’s cheesecake, which Rosen says has not “changed one ounce” since Junior’s first opened in Brooklyn in 1950, is composed of 85% cream cheese.) 

cream cheese supply chain shortage
Sen. Charles Schumer has a bite of cheesecake as he attends a ribbon-cutting and the official opening of the Junior’s Times Square restaurant — which had been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic — on May 6, 2021.
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Junior’s isn’t alone in scrambling: Bagel vendors are also hurting from the dairy dearth. 

“I’ve never been out of cream cheese for 30 years,” Joseph Yemma, owner of Brooklyn-based dairy product distributor F&H Dairies, told the New York Times. “There’s no end in sight.”

Other food businesses told the publication they’ve been forced to beg, use “little packets” as though they’re wholesale tubs, and have shop owners drive to New Jersey to personally acquire 2,000 pounds of cream cheese just to keep bagels satisfactorily shmeared. 

cream cheese supply chain shortage
Former President Barack Obama and then-mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio leave Junior’s in happier times.

The shortage is just one of many that have cropped up as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and industry insiders say there’ve been red flags of an impending cream cheese scarcity for months. In this case, shortages in truck drivers, manufacturing sector labor, packaging supplies and increased demand for at-home cream cheese consumption are likely to blame, a Kraft Heinz spokeswoman told the Times in a statement.

As owners await a supply-chain holiday miracle, all they can do is hope the New York City institution can be restocked by the new year. 

“Sunday bagels are sacred” Tompkins Square Bagels’ owner Christopher Pugliese told the Times. “I hate feeling like I’ve let people down.”

cream cheese supply chain shortage
Visitors eat during the official Junior’s re-opening.
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