A shortage of the most essential ingredient for Christmas cookies -- butter -- has Norway pleading for emergency supplies.
As crises go, there are worse. Yet a shortage of butter has set Norway aflutter.
As many Minnesotans know, butter is essential to Norwegian Christmas cookies. It's what you spread on lefse. Butter is to Norwegians what ketchup is to kindergartners. It goes on everything, and makes everything better.
"News and Views From Norway," an English-language news aggregator, reported such a desperation for smør that some websites are asking more than $100 for a pound. One newspaper is offering a half-kilo of butter to new subscribers, while some savvy teens got hold of some butter and are auctioning it online to help pay for their graduation party in the spring.
There are several possible villains, among them the political (Norway's high import duties discourage trade), the conspiratorial (grocers have manufactured the shortage), the obese (a hugely popular "low-carb" diet requires eating more fats) and the meteorological (a wet summer hurt crops, which led to cows producing less milk).
Gawker.com threw down the mitten this month, asking Americans to look inside their hearts: "Norway, which so kindly gave to the United States our entire Upper Midwest, is now in need of help. Will we stand idly by, or do the right thing?"
Neighboring Scandinavians, perhaps sick and tired of Norway always being "the richest" and "the safest" and "the most literate," have smugly put on their earmuffs at Norway's request for emergency supplies. Some small shipments arrived last week, but many households have given up on this year's holiday baking.
How upset are the Norwegians? As expected, hard to tell. But word is that this Christmas may not only be deemed "different," but "very different."