“Where’s my cream cheese? Where’s Liberté?”
Saul Restrepo, manager of St-Viateur Bagel, answers these questions from bemused customers who are combing through his store’s refrigerators, unable to find the dairy products beloved by locals. I came.
And you won’t find it anytime soon.
In a blow to bagel lovers in Montreal, General Mills, the company that now owns the product, has pulled the famous schmear off its shelves.
A short paragraph posted on the FAQ page does not sweeten the news.
“It is with great sadness that we have to confirm that we will no longer be able to continue to make Liberté cream cheese that meets consumer expectations.”
According to Restrepo, losing cream cheese, which has a light texture and is easy to dip, would be a difficult pill for Montrealers to swallow.
“People ask for liberté…it’s better cheese,” said the manager of the long-established bagel shop.
“I’ve been here for nearly 40 years, so Liberte has always been here for as long as I can remember. It’s been part of the bagel.”
Long history of the city’s Jewish community
Kat Romanow was heartbroken to hear the cream cheese news. elegy for it.
“It wasn’t anything like what’s sold in Philadelphia or other stores. It had a really tangy flavor and the texture was really light and fluffy,” she said.
Jewish food historian and co-founder of the blog The Wandering Chew, Romanow’s mission is to share the diversity of Jewish stories through food.
Like Montrealers’ love of bagels, Liberte cream cheese is Jewish in origin.
Founded by the Kaporowski family in 1936, Liberte (originally known as Liberty Dairy Products) was created in a building on the corner of St. Urban and Duluth streets in the Plateau Mont-Royal district of Montreal.
From there, the Kaporowskis sold cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, and other kosher dairy products to the Jewish community living in the area, according to Romanow.
The company was eventually acquired by multinational yogurt maker Yoplait and in 2021 by General Mills.
Still, according to Romanow, the Liberté recipe is reminiscent of the type of cream cheese that would have been made when the product was first invented in the late 1800s.
“There was nothing quite like it. It has a long history in Montreal’s Jewish community and is rooted in the city’s bagel culture,” she said.
So what are the people who schmear now?
Romanow said it might be time to start making her own cream cheese to spread some love to other grieving Montrealers.
RIP Liberté Cream Cheese: Montreal Bagel Lovers Mourn the End of Beloved Schmire
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