A Knish Disruption

OK, it’s just a knish, but a recent factory fire in New York put the kibosh on knishes. While the loss of knish production, 15 million a year from this one factory, is a raw deal for a food producer, the interruption in the knish supply chain illustrates how events such as a factory fire impact our food system.

The factory owners say that they will be making their famous square Coney Island knishes again by Thanksgiving. They will now be in the thick of adaptations that will stress every aspect of their business. The company must find ways to adapt the flow of raw materials that would have been on their way to the factory, dispose and replace perishable ingredients, find, purchase, and install the machine that makes the square knishes, and manage their labor force to minimize the impact of work loss. The impact of the fire is also absorbed by the retail stores that sell the square knishes. Those stores will turn away their own customers or find alternate suppliers, which mostly sell round knishes, a shape shunned by the fans of square knishes.

In spite of this local disruption, centered on one machine, the knish food system will manage to emerge in phoenix-like fashion to deliver delicious knishes to customers who consider the square knish an essential part of their food culture.  Gabila, the factory in Copiague, New York, will undoubtedly recover, enabling the owners to plan their long-awaited 100-year anniversary of Gabila knishes.


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