Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Culture

Yes, Kraft will really pay you $20 to eat halva instead of cheesecake* (*some restrictions apply)

Kraft Heinz, the producer of Philadelphia cream cheese announced they will pay select customers $20 each to not bake cheesecake for Christmas.

The promotion comes as New York area bagel shops and other cream cheese users are running out of Philadelphia.

A Forward investigation revealed that the cream cheese shortage is connected to limited water supply in Lowville, New York, the upstate village where Kraft has one of their largest cream cheese factories. Recent regulations of the creamery’s water usage combined with spiking demands of cream cheese for holiday cheesecakes created a sudden schmear deficit.

On Dec. 17 and 18, up to 18,000 cream cheese-deprived customers will be able to sign up to be reimbursed for other desserts and ingredients. The promotion called “Spread the Feeling” is intended as a sort-of apology to those who can’t find cream cheese to bake cheesecakes, a Jewish dessert that has become a Christmas dinner staple.

While the Chicago headquartered company has found a way to turn a crisis into a marketing opportunity, they have refused to answer questions about the causes of the cream cheese shortage or their responsibility in Lowville’s water issues. Over the summer, as cream cheese production peaked, the village worried there wouldn’t be water left for the local hospital.

The campaign to turn the Christmas cheesecake tide runs counter to the message of one of Kraft’s largest cream cheese customers, Junior’s. The Brooklyn restaurant turned national brand experienced a 55% increase since 2019, as Americans looked for comfort food during the pandemic.

Junior’s now uses over 4 million pounds of cream cheese annually with business reaching its apex during the holiday season. Last week, the cheesecake giant temporarily shut down production when their orders of Philadelphia from the Lowville plant failed to arrive.

Third-generation owner Alan Rosen implored customers to get their cheesecake orders in early. “Bagels on a Sunday with a schmear is one thing,” Rosen said in an interview with Bloomberg, “but Christmas without cheesecake is another.”

Andrew Silverstein writes about New York City and is co-founder of Streetwise New York Tours.

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.