Norwegian butter shortage hits American news media
…and quickly becomes fodder for jokes on NBC’s popular program Saturday Night Live
By Kelsey Larson
Norwegian American Weekly
This week, a report from Reuters had the American news media buzzing about Norway’s recent butter shortage. In light of major news stories about violence in the Middle East, the Norwegian butter story brought a bit of much-needed lightheartedness to the news, both on the web and on TV.
This weekend, classic comedy show Saturday Night Live mentioned the shortage during Seth Meyer’s popular “Weekend Update” segment. “A new fat-rich diet that has become extremely popular in Norway is being blamed for depleting the country’s stocks of butter, thanks in small part to Norway’s celebrity chef, Paula Deen-flergen,” said Meyers, as a photoshopped picture popped up behind him of Paula Deen wearing the traditional Norwegian bunad. Though most experts in the language have surely never heard “flørgen” used as a suffix in Norwegian, the audience did not seem to differentiate and the joke was well received.
Internet news sites and blogs seemed to find the story joke-worthy as well. “I mean, I don’t think I have ever been to a restaurant that’s been out of butter. How does an ENTIRE COUNTRY manage to spread through its stash? Your country is an inspiration to ours,” wrote American website gizmodo.com, a division of Gawker Media, an online media company and blog network.
“You guys, this is an emergency,” wrote the Huffington Post. “Norway is running out of butter.” Many news sources went on to report that butter is being sold on Norway’s leading auction website for $13 for one 8.28-pound piece, which is about four times the normal price.
“I looked at flights to Oslo from New York and it’s only 600 bucks round trip right now. If I pack my suitcase filled with butter, I think the trip can pay for itself,” the gizmodo.com writer, Casey Chan, joked on the website. Perhaps Chan was unaware that some have taken this idea rather seriously: a Russian man was recently caught trying to smuggle nearly 200 pounds of butter across the Norwegian border near Svinesund. He had not declared the butter, and it was therefore confiscated.
Meanwhile, the butter shortage in Norway continues to be anything but funny to serious holiday bakers who are having trouble procuring the important ingredient. Norwegian dairy company Tine managed to send out a small shipment to grocery stores Monday, but it is expected to be gone very soon. Denmark has refused to ship any butter to Norway, citing high custom duties—despite the fact that such duties have been significantly lowered.
This article originally appeared in the Dec. 9, 2011 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.