Oy Bay!

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west." — Yehudah Ha-Levi

Bay Area hit by Matzoh shortage

Posted by FriarYid on April 19, 2008

Did anyone hear about this? Apparently all over the Bay, people are scrambling to find those boxes o’ questionable culinary goodness. A quick perusal of the net showed stories from SF, Walnut Creek, and the South Bay.

There are two contending theories for the cause of the shortage. On the one hand, some stores just didn’t have enough demand:

Two South Bay Trader Joe’s don’t have ’em at all, managers said: Not enough orders last year.

Others see this as yet one more casualty of national supermarkets making it harder for small businesses to stay afloat:

Some big-box retailers whose bulk buying once trounced mom-and-pop kosher markets have opted out.

This year, the smaller retailers who once had to toss or donate boxes of unsold goods are watching the wafers waft off their shelves.

“We didn’t carry it this year or last year,” said Darby Greek, Costco regional manager. “The only Passover foods we carried were macaroons and gefilte fish. There are just so many holidays.”

Trader Joe’s dropped the cracker, too. “We’re taking this year off to figure out how to supply this product better,” said store spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki.

How big of you. Thanks for letting us know ahead of time.

On top of all this, Manischewitz just got a new machine to speed up production of Tam-Tam crackers, and, well, it had issues. Which probably caused people to buy more matzoh to compensate.

Personally, I have my own theory, as well as a possible solution. There are a lot of younger Jews in their 20s & 30s (i.e., without families) ’round the Bay, but a lot of places don’t sell matzoh invidiually, forcing everyone to buy in the same minimum quantities. If you buy matzoh early, you may be getting more matzoh than you necessarily need. For instance, I’m having a seder and only wanted a couple of boxes, but Safeway was selling them in packs of five. This left me with enough matzoh to feed a large family for most of the 8-day holiday when I really only needed enough for 1 large communal meal (sure enough, we fed everyone using less than two boxes).

In the video here, two co-owners of a Judaica store in San Francisco mention that they’re “rationing” out their matzoh, only selling a few boxes to each customer. I would personally love it if the major supermarkets (or, wonder of wonders, the manufacturers themselves) would sub-divide the mega-matzoh packs, but until they do, this seems like a good way to go. However, I think the consumers could take it even further: what would be really useful in years to come would be a sort of “Matzoh-Match” email list or something: people could either partner up ahead of time and buy & split boxes of matzoh together, or people who have more matzoh than they need could sell or donate their extra to people that don’t have enough (or any). Not only would this make sure that the matzoh that is being bought is getting put to good use, it would probably be a great way for people to meet other Jews near them (and potentially get some seder invites).

Happy Passover to everybody- now go check if anyone you know needs to borrow a box!

22 Responses to “Bay Area hit by Matzoh shortage”

  1. CatSynth said

    Thanks for posting this article.
    My first Passover in San Francisco has been a failure. I went around to several markets in the city today, and they were all out of matzoh. Plus I don’t really have any Jewish friends here yet.

    “Next year, in Jerusalem?” 😉

  2. seeking matzoh said


    I am trying to find Matzoh for a friend and cant find any. Anyone willing to help her? Please email me. Thanks.

  3. […] April 20, 2008 10:04 PM   Subscribe Nationwide matzo shortage! Competing theories offer possible explanations. If you get desperate, make your own. (Gratuitous youtube […]

  4. Matzo searcher said

    Hi everyone, Looking desperately for matzo. If you know who still has them please let me know!

  5. Denny said

    I went to 4 stores in South of Market today, same story. I cannot believe this.

  6. This is an interesting post – I know that here in the Boston area we have had not only a lack of Tam-Tams, but of Matzoh cake meal as well. When you have a mintute I’d like to invite you check out a new online Jewish publication: http://www.newvilnareview.com

    We’re always looking for new contributors, so if you or anyone you know might be interested we’d be happy to hear from you.

  7. Oren said

    I also cannot find Matzah anywhere in this City – absolutly crazy – if you know which store is stashing the gold and care to share the secret it would be greatly appreciated. Can always e-mail me at ohersh2@hotmail.com

  8. Mara said

    We had family members on the east coast overnight mail it today. That’s the only solution I could think of!

  9. kneidalach said

    none in the palo alto-cupertino area either.
    looked through pretty much every store: molly stone’s, lucky, safeway, piazza, trader’s frader. nuuuuuuuu!!!!!!!!!
    should we really be sending SOS notes to the east coast? any other solutions??

  10. […] rations have dwindled and apparently the bay area is experiencing an epic shortage of unleavened bread. I’ve been to the Whole Foods and Safeway in SOMA, the Bristol Farms in Westfield Mall, and the […]

  11. Oren said

    I honestly think this is crazy and there should be something done about this. There is nothing to be found for miles and iles from this City and I really do not feel this is ok. If anyone knows who I can contact to complain please let me know.

  12. Ruth said

    The shortage is not just in the Bay Area. I have been looking all over the Sacramento Area for Matzah as well and have not come up with it either. We thought we had enough to get through the week (we bought a month early), but seriously miscalculated. Not sure what we are going to do.

  13. Steve said

    I just bought some matzoh (1:30 PM, Tuesday) at the Safeway, 3550 Fruitvale, Oakland. They had just received a small shipment of Yehuda Matzoh, in 5 lb. packages. I told them to open them up and sell individual boxes.

  14. Eve said

    I couldn’t find any matzah in Sacramento, so when I was in Los Angeles I bought a five-pack at Albertsons and flew back with my suticase loaded with matzah. I guess it made it past the security! Sometimes even the matzah has to make a long journey!

  15. Elaine said

    I am in the East Bay, and I have a few extra boxes of matzoh. I always buy more than I need, but because of the shortage, I am willing to sell my extras. If you’re interested, email me at

  16. Someone said that M & M Market in Cupertino had some. I’d call first, 10021 Blaney Avenue, Cupertino, CA 95014 (408) 257-3746.

  17. Shai said

    I called the Safeway in Mountain View on Saturday and they told that there was a recall on the Matzah since someone found metal in one of the boxes? I have no idea if this is true or not, but an interesting twist to the story!

  18. Richard said

    We are matzoh-less on the Central Coast too…from Santa Barbara to Pismo Beach, Albertsons, Gelson’s: Zip. First time in decades this has happened. Can I get a dispensation to use tortillas?

  19. […] Bay Area hit by Matzoh shortageFamous Jewish [Porn] StarsArmenian […]

  20. Darryn said

    FYI we called just about every single food store we could think of in SF yesterday and nobody had any. We went to a few smaller, random places and there was none to be had. Then on our very last stop before giving up, we stopped by the Safeway at 3350 Mission St (near 30th street in south Mission) and we couldn’t believe our eyes. They had about 25 boxes left (2 different kinds)

    Get em while they last!

    Good luck

  21. […] soon be involved in. Using the Matzah as a concept analogy is enriching, not like enriched flour, but can provide a window into the awareness that a shift in diet and a recognition for what so many take for advantage of with modern food […]

  22. viktoria said

    Does anyone know where to buy matzoh meal by the bulk in los angeles california? Maybe Fairfax district? I can’t believe it’s $5 a pound!

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