From Zabar's to Pick-a-Bagel and Tompkins Square Bagels, bagel makers from all over the Big Apple say they barely have a few days' schmear stock left, warning they may have to take the NYC delicacy off the menu permanently.
"This is bad. This is very bad," said Pedro Aguilar, a manager at a Pick-a-Bagel chain, which has few Manhattan branches. Mr. Aguilar said he had only enough cream cheese to last until Monday earlier this weekend.
Nick Patta, a worker who's been serving at Absolute Bagels on the Upper West Side for the last 11 years, told the New York Times that his Queens-based cream cheese supplier had run out of their go-to cream cheese brand for the first time in over a decade. He says he now has just over a three-day supply of cream cheese remaining.
"We went this week and the shelves were empty," Patta added. "If we cannot find cream cheese, I worry now, what are we going to do?" he said.
The general manager at Zabar's, Scott Goldshine, gave an estimate of 10 days when asked about his cream cheese supply before adding that he had called about eight different distributors over the last several days.
"Begging is one of my plans, which I have done, and it's helped," Mr. Goldshine told the Times.
"If anybody's got it, let them call me."
Most stores receive cream cheese made by Philadelphia, whose parent company is Heinz. But the dairy product they are given is considerably distinct from the Philly American shoppers pick up on supermarket shelves.
It comes unwhipped and unprocessed and in huge blocks, allowing delis and cafes to blend it to their specifications. Most add different ingredients - such as scallions, dill, or blueberries, which are then implemented to different bagel spreadings.
Going out to a supermarket and buying regular-sized tubs of Philadelphia is impractical and also means deli owners won't be serving up their special cream cheese formula that has granted them their loyal customers.
Heinz asserts it has seen a 35 percent increase in demand for cream cheese in recent months.
It also cited the continuous supply chain shortage, which has seen products run out due to issues including a shortage of truck drivers and scarcity of other vital staff due to COVID vaccine mandates that many have declined to get.
The ongoing supply chain issues have disturbed several industries beyond bagel spreads, from running shoes and cars to winter jackets in Alaska.
A shortfall of fresh materials has been blamed as one of the central factors behind the supply chain shortages.