The butter crisis

Poor Norway. They’ve got a real crisis and all the world can do is chuckle. Norway has no butter.

The monopoly that controls butter in Norway mismanaged the supply and is blaming fad diets for the shortage. As a result, people are hoarding butter, there’s a black market for smuggled butter, and people are driving to Sweden to get their butter fix.

The local Norwegians insist this isn’t comedy; it’s serious business because, you see, the Norwegians use butter for cooking.

“If I was in Norway and told I had to use margarine, I would freak out and not cook,” Ashley Thornberg tells the Fargo Forum. “I really like butter.”

Serious business, indeed. The crisis has also unleashed pent-up hate for things Norwegian.

Kelly McParland in Canada says it’s what happens when “you take a large government-supported bureaucracy and let them try to manipulate a large market for no other reason than that the bureaucracy thinks it can bring a better amount of good to more people than the market can.”

They’re so perfect they’re annoying. Even Swedes get tired of hearing about them. So it’s kind of fun to read about how they’ve completely buggered up their supply management system, so that the entire country has been stripped of its butter supply just as Christmas arrives and everyone gears up to make lots of stuff for which butter is required. And if it reminds you of Canada’s own supply management system (think: dairy products and Quebec), all the better.

Irishman Frank McNally invokes a fair amount of Schadenfreude over the crisis:

Their dairying crisis apart, it’s hard not to feel envious of modern Norwegians, now that Kerrygold is the only thing we have that they don’t. This is all the more annoying because for much of their history, they were just like us. Poor and agricultural, they were even the butt of dumb-Norwegian jokes, as told by richer neighbours to the east.

Even more impressively, the fact that they had ready-made enemies in the Swedes notwithstanding, they also managed to have a chip on their shoulders about England.

And in the U.S., the crisis is a field day for every comedian, the first time Norwegian and funny legitimately go together:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Norway’s Butter Shortage
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive
  • Jim Shapiro

    I’m sending this to friends in Norway to help them laugh through their national crisis.

  • vjacobsen

    If the only downfall to the way Norway is run is that there ends up being this one time they have no butter, then count me in. I think I’m 3rd generation or so…will they let me move my family back? (And I am not being flip. It all sounds wonderful to me!)

  • Sue

    What is the point of cooking if there is no butter. Margarine should be outlawed.

  • Jim Shapiro

    vjacobsen – Norway is only wonderful if things like equality, education, healthcare, natural beauty, a high standard of living, respect for the environment and skiing are important to you.