Marie Zhuikov: National waffle shortage hits home, breakfast not the sameOn the freezer shelf in the spot they usually occupied was a sign: “To our valued customers, some of your favorite Eggo products are out of stock nationally. We are working hard to fix this short-term issue."
By: Guest Columnist Marie Zhuikov, Budgeteer News
Disaster struck when I was walking down the isle of my favorite grocery store earlier this year. I was looking for strawberry Eggo waffles. On the freezer shelf in the spot they usually occupied was a sign: “To our valued customers, some of your favorite Eggo products are out of stock nationally. We are working hard to fix this short-term issue. We’re sorry for the inconvenience and appreciate your continued support. EggoWaffles.com”
I returned home and gave my family the news. A moment of silence descended on the household as if I’d instead told them a relative had died. My 10-year-old son looked particularly distraught. Then the complaining began.
In an effort to determine the length of the shortage, I turned to the Internet. I discovered the shortage was due to contamination of an Eggo plant in Atlanta with listeria. Listeria is a nasty bug that you definitely don’t want to eat or have living in your body. It can cause a blood infection or inflame the covering of the brain. The infection is especially serious for infants, children and pregnant women.
Waffle production was further impacted by a flood at the Atlanta plant and equipment problems at the largest Eggo bakery, which is in Tennessee. The blogosphere and Twitter were abuzz with tales of Eggo shortage woes.
To compensate, Eggo producers were rationing their product and producing varieties on a rotating basis. The shortage was not short-term. It was expected to last until June. At the time, June was six months away. When I told my family this, the look on my 10-year-old’s face said it might as well be forever.
The shortage also seemed to impact organic and gluten-free waffle varieties produced under other brand names, since those have also been hard to find. It’s led Kellogg, the parent company for Eggo, to lose sales and stock value, according to Business Week.
The shortage has forced me to make waffles myself more often. Our favorite recipe from a bed-and-breakfast inn in southern Minnesota involves separating eggs. I don’t know about you, but I have to be in a mood for fancy cooking to create anything that requires separate yolks and whites. That doesn’t happen very many mornings.
My family has endured the waffle shortage with great fortitude. I’ve been proud of their willingness to try breakfast alternatives like Pop Tarts and pancakes. But breakfast is just not the same. Eggos are (were) a staple in our house, just like rice, milk or bread. There ought to be safeguards set into place to protect the national supply of such a vital food so that a long-term shortage can’t happen again. For instance, back-up waffle plants could be built so they are ready “just in case.” Or how about developing cleaning teams like the one in the movie “Monsters, Inc.” that could be called in to remove the listeria instantly.
OK, I know none of these ideas are probably feasible, but one can dream. The breakfast of a 10-year-old depends on it. June can’t come soon enough in our household.
Marie Zhuikov is a freelance writer in Duluth. E-mail her c/o Budgeteer@duluthbudgeteer.com.