Jewish Journal

Case of the missing matzo, and not the afikomen

by Brad A. Greenberg

April 22, 2008 | 12:32 am

From coast to coast right now, there is a developing story that is a perfect case for the Hardly Boys. (No, it does not involve 9/11 conspiracies.) Passover began little more than 48 hours ago, and one thing is clear: this Exodus remembrance it appears there wasn’t even enough time to bake unleavened bread. The New York Times explains:

On Monday, Allison Mnookin circled the aisles of her local Whole Foods store in San Mateo, Calif., three times. There was no matzo to be found.

“Being out of matzo is like being out of milk,” Ms. Mnookin said. So it was on to Safeway. Nothing. Fearing that the box of stale matzo remaining in her pantry from last year would not cut it, she drove nearly 15 miles to Menlo Park.

Hypothesis: If the shortage had been on gefilte fish, complaints would have been far fewer.

The reasons behind the matzo shortage range from manufacturing problems, decisions by some stores not to carry the product this Passover and vague talk of a possible work stoppage.

“It seemed like the whole region had a problem getting it in,” said Jason Hodges, a supervisor in the grocery department at a Whole Foods in Miami. A person who answered the phone at a ShopRite in Philadelphia said stores there were sold out, as was the Food Emporium in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., in Westchester County.

“We heard there was a strike or something,” said the Food Emporium manager, Frantz Baptiste. “The first shipment we had was a month ago, and we never got another one.”

Phone calls and e-mail messages to the largest suppliers of unleavened bread products, Streit’s, Manischewitz and Yehuda, brought no response on Monday, possibly because executives were off for Passover, which began Saturday night.

But Manischewitz officials have said that problems with a new state-of-the-art oven in its only New Jersey plant caused it to scrap this Passover’s supply of Tam Tam crackers, its little six-sided matzo morsels, as well as some less popular matzo varieties.

Trader Joe’s stores opted not to sell Passover matzo this year, as did some Costco stores.

There were similar stories in Los Angeles, detailed and also debunked at LAObserved.

“I got a chuckle out of your items on the ‘matzoh shortage’ in Los Feliz. As a former resident of that neighborhood I can state that while it’s a great place to live on many counts, it has none of the things a more than “semi-observant” Jew needs. I’ll be happy to supply directions to Fairfax, Pico-Robertson or my own shtetl of Valley Village, where you can’t turn around this time of year without tripping over a box of matzoh!”

To see what some Jews are missing out on, check out this VideoJew installment.

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