February 2 is rapidly approaching, along with the annual nutritional extravaganza known as the Super Bowl party.
However, storm clouds loom on the culinary horizon. If it’s Super Bowl time, there are the inevitable rumors of a chicken wing shortage. These rumors haunted football fans in 2009 and 2010, and reached their peak last year when the shortfall seemed almost inevitable. There were enough wings to go around, as it turned out, although the price sharply increased as game day neared.
The escalating prices were traced to McDonald’s, because they stockpiled nearly 50 million pounds of wings in preparation for the relaunch of their Mighty Wings menu item. Mighty Wings didn’t catch on, and the company supposedly still has a stockpile of 10 million pounds in their inventory---chicken feed (so to speak), considering that Americans will consume about 1.25 billion wings on February 2. Supplies of celery and ranch dressing are rumored to be safe and plentiful.
The real threat this year, if you’re a couch potato, is the potential shortage of Velveeta “cheese.” Velveeta Pasteurized Process Cheese Spread is one of the favorite ingredients for use in dips, because of its creamy texture; it also melts easily, due to its high chemical content and lack of protein. Kraft Foods has announced that some Americans may be unable to find Velveeta over the next month, and there are already reports of bare shelves in East Coast grocery stores. The danger is that fans may be forced to use a substitute, and some might even resort to using real cheese in its place.
The bright spot in this scenario is that the rest of our favorites are readily available: guacamole, chips, salsa, and all the foods that make Super Bowl Sunday such a satisfying experience. Best of all, don’t forget the beer---all those commercials featuring the famous Clydesdales are bound to make you thirsty. Sales of Budweiser have slipped 30% since 2007, so you should have little trouble finding it at your local convenience store.
Mark Spivak is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, published by Lyons Press. His second book, Moonshine nation, is forthcoming from Lyons Press in June; for more information, go to amazon.com