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A cheesy close to 2021
Dec 10, 2021
Episode 576

A cheesy close to 2021

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Welp, this show took an unexpected turn.

On the final show of the year, we’re talking cheese. Specifically, the supply and demand of cream cheese in America. Plus, one of the hosts gives us their hot take on formaggio. On a more serious note, we’ll review a congressional report card on prescription drug prices and end the show with a holiday-themed round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty. 

Thank you for joining us for our last show of 2021. We’ll be back with a new episode on Jan. 10. In the meantime, look out for some of our favorite episodes of the year in your podcast feed. Happy holidays from the “Make Me Smart” team! 

Here’s everything we talked about: 

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Make Me Smart December 10, 2021 transcript

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Kimberly Adams: Let’s see. Oh, they can hear me already in Discord.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, really? That’s funny.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, they’re saying they can hear me. So I guess a little pregame chit chat for the people.

Kai Ryssdal: There it is. There it is.

Kimberly Adams: Music.

Kai Ryssdal: I don’t even know how to yell at for starting without letting us know. Hey everybody, I’m Kai Ryssdal.Welcome back to Make Me Smart, making the day make sense is what we do on this podcast.

Kimberly Adams: Or attempt to, at least. I’m Kimberly Adams, it’s happy hour or, as we like to call it, economics on tap. Thank you to everyone joining on YouTube, on Discord, in the podcast, wherever you may roam. And we’re just really grateful that you’re here.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, yeah. And I will say, it feels a little weird to be doing this because I haven’t been on a Friday in like, a couple of weeks. And so it’s nice to be back. That’s all I’m saying.

Kimberly Adams: Yes. With your drink. What are you drinking?

Kai Ryssdal: I am drinking a mind haze double IPA because I need a little, I need to take the edge off a little bit because it’s been a day.

Kimberly Adams: Is that like, a stronger beer than normal beer?

Kai Ryssdal: Yes, so double IPAs are generally higher in alcohol content, alcohol by volume. This is .3. And one would do me very well for the meeting that I have coming up in half an hour that I don’t really want to have to deal with. And so that’s good. That’s good.

Kimberly Adams: My wine is 13.5% alcohol by volume.

Kai Ryssdal: There you go.

Kimberly Adams: It’s Black Girl Magic.

Kai Ryssdal: Is that the name of the wine, or is it—sorry.

Kimberly Adams: Yes. It’s actually called Black Girl Magic. No, no, it’s legitimately called Black Girl Magic. Alright, okay, now that we’ve, we’ve officially surveyed the drinks, news.

Kai Ryssdal: Yes. Well, you know, it is incumbent upon us. Okay, so I’m bringing this up, number one, because I just kind of love it. But also because, number two, Marielle mentioned it like, a week or so ago. The cream cheese shortage in New York City, the schmear shortage, and what that’s doing to the bagel industry. And just, you know, all of that. So Bloomberg did a little digging. And I love this so much. It turns out that a company named Schreiber Foods in Wisconsin which has, according to Bloomberg, a cream cheese operation to rival Kraft’s, which is to say at large, right, they were the victims of a cyber-attack back in October. And that partially goes to explaining why there was this cream cheese shortage because honestly, when Marielle and I were talking about it, I was like, come on, how can you be short of cream cheese? How can you, how can that be? But I guess that’s the, I guess that’s the mantra of this, of this supply chain age is, how can that be? Anyway, so they had a cyber-attack. And that’s what’s going on with that. But here’s the other amazing tidbit in this Bloomberg story, I’m just gonna read it: “At home cream cheese consumption is up 18% compared to 2019 and foodservice demand in November was up 75% compared to last year.” Now granted last year, we weren’t going out. But still, that’s going into a spokesman for, spokesperson for Kraft. We’re eating a lot of clean cheese is all I’m saying. We’re just eating a lot of cream cheese, which is just cray cray. That’s, that’s what I’m saying.

Kimberly Adams: I’m really hesitant about whether to comment on this because I always, I always get in trouble for this. I don’t like cheese.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, no, that’s fine. I didn’t like cheese for a very long time. And now I do.

Kimberly Adams: No, but like, I’ve lost friendships over this. Like people really get disturbed when they just, I mean, like, I just don’t like cheese. And once people find out that you don’t like cheese, they just look at you differently for some reason.

Kai Ryssdal: I don’t know what to do with it. Is it all kinds of cheese?

Kimberly Adams: All kinds of cheese.

Kai Ryssdal: It’s really a shame because I’m, as I’m sure people have told you, cheese and wine go really well together.

Kimberly Adams: No, I know. I’ve heard this. I’ve heard this. And I have tried many, many different kinds of cheese over the years and I don’t like it. And one of my good friends from like, middle school, I’ve known her since I was like, an early teenager and she’s actively suppressed the fact that I don’t like cheese. So every so often, she’ll be like, oh, you should try this new cheese. I’m like, I don’t like cheese. She’s like, alright, over and over again.

Kai Ryssdal: That’s all I’m saying. That’s all I’m saying. She’s got some issues. She needs, she’s going to need to get over it. You do you. Wow.

Kimberly Adams: Yes, as Robert says in the YouTube chat, chocolate and wine is a better combination. I am fully on board with that. And this is–Finn has the questions, yes, I know. What do I do about pizza? Well, I either eat like, the worst pizza possible that doesn’t have real cheese. It has like, the vegetable oil stuff that is kind of like cheese and that is fine for me, or I’ll take the cheese off of it or I’ll just eat a very, very small amount.

Kai Ryssdal: Okay, sorry, now I’m digging in. Has it been this way since you were a kid?

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, yeah.

Kai Ryssdal: Okay. Alright. Okay. Hey, as somebody else who doesn’t need to, that’s great. More for us. More for us.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah. So I mean, everyone loves cheesecake. And it’s just like, it still tastes kind of like cheese to me. And I’m just like, yeah, no, thanks.

Kai Ryssdal: That’s my favorite dessert ever is my wife’s cheesecake. My wife makes the world’s best cheesecake, it’s my favorite.

Kimberly Adams: Oh, does she?

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, she really does. But you’re not gonna get any. Alright, anyway, let’s get on with the news. We’re off track here.

Kimberly Adams: I’m sorry. Okay, so mine is a touch more serious. But also, you know what, let’s make a, let’s make a very, let’s see, loose, tangential connection, cheese, health, health care, your heart and arteries. This is about drug prices, which is that the House of Democrats just wrapped up this three-year investigation into drug prices in the US and basically determined what we all kind of suspected, which is that several drug makers kind of use the United States to rake in profits by hiking up prices in the US, while charging everyone else in the world lower rates. So we’re just sort of the profit center because Medicare and the federal government can’t negotiate drug prices. Now, obviously, there’s a political agenda to releasing this report at this time, when we’re in the midst of the build back better negotiations, and they want to give the government the power to negotiate drug prices in some cases. But yeah, I mean, I can’t tell you how many people I know who like, when they travel abroad, they bring back all of these medicines that are just so much cheaper. Now, at the same time, the Republicans released a report talking about pharmacy benefit managers, which are sort of the in-betweens between the pharmaceutical companies and patients, saying that they’re to blame for high drug prices. Lots of blame to go around. But this report is super detailed. It was like, I think it went three years for this report that they’ve been digging into this. The, I’m just going to read a piece from Reuters. The report which focused on 12 drugs made by 10 companies said that Lilly Novo Nordisk and Sanofi owned some 90% of the market for life sustaining insulin, which was invented in the 1920s. And this is one of the drugs that’s really had its price hiked up and that it’s pretty much just a us that’s paying these kinds of rates. And yeah.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, I, it’s, so the thing that has brought it home to me most immediately and recently are the, are the at home COVID tests, right? You go to the, to the local Piggly Wiggly in London, or you know, Edinburgh or wherever, and you get them free at the local place because of the national health service. And here, they’re like 40 bucks for two, and yes, fine, there’s going to be reimbursement through insurance, but come on, cut it out. It’s craziness. It’s crazy. Crazy.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah. Okay, well, I also have something that I think is going to be near and dear to both of our hearts, which is a space story, which I don’t know quite how I feel about it. So the FAA said today that it’s no longer going to be giving out commercial astronaut wings, which was–

Kai Ryssdal: You and I have had this conversation, I believe. Go ahead. Yeah, I have a stance on this. I have a position.

Kimberly Adams: Okay, so they gave these astronaut wings, I think, to all of these dudes who’ve gone into low, low earth orbit, not actual space, but kind of sort of space. But they still got the astronaut wings. Go ahead.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, so it’s not low earth orbit, right? It’s these, it’s these little suborbital hops that they’ve been doing. It’s the Bezos is going up and down, right? It’s not—

Kimberly Adams: Right, but it’s not space.

Kai Ryssdal: It’s not. That’s exactly it. It’s not space. It’s popping up, doing the parabolic arc and coming back down. It’s exactly what Alan Shepard did in 1961. Right. Watch the right stuff. You know exactly what it is. And I think, actually, you shouldn’t get astronaut wings until you orbit. I think that’s the deal. I think you have to go, you have to orbit the Earth, and then come back and then you got the wings. If you pass the Karman Line and all that jazz, BS, you gotta go, you gotta go up and around, not just up and down. I don’t know why I feel so strongly about that, but I do.

Kimberly Adams: Well, now nobody’s getting it anymore because, apparently, too many people are going up into that thing that you just said, the little hop. And so now the FAA is no longer going to be giving out astronaut wings to these commercial pilots. And yet another one of our dreams has been crushed, Kai.

Kai Ryssdal: I think I’m okay with that. I think I’m okay with that. You know, I mean, look, I finally accept that I’m not going to be an astronaut. I can be an Apollo you know, fanboy and all that jazz but am I flying? No.

Kimberly Adams: I’m not ready. I’m not ready to give up. I think, I think there may still be a moon byline for me.

Kai Ryssdal: I, I’m saying this as gently as I possibly can and know that I love you, but there’s an age limit.

Kimberly Adams: How old do you think I am, Kai?

Kai Ryssdal: This could be, this could be deeply problematic for me to answer. So I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna. But no, but come on. Okay.

Kimberly Adams: I’m gonna save you from yourself at this point. I think we have, I think we have some other things to say.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, so we’ll do that on another podcast, shall we? Anyway, so look, we’re gonna take a very brief break here to do this, which is to say we cannot do what we do on this podcast, whether it’s getting me in trouble or discovering that Kimberly doesn’t like cheese, without your support. This is new investors week here at Marketplace. First time donors get your gift matched dollar for dollar. We’ve been through all the nuts and bolts about, you know, we’re looking for first time donors so that we can get you and, and help you show your appreciation for what it is that we do. And if you can this week, it will be matched dollar for dollar and, and look, help. That’s all I’m saying. That’s all I’m saying.

Kimberly Adams: You know, look, a little over 200 folks have already had their gift matched this week. So thank you for that. We really appreciate it. We’re trying to get to 350 people by midnight on Saturday, I absolutely believe that we can do it. I have faith in y’all. And, you know, who knows, maybe I’ll even eat cheese. And then if you step up, you can help us make the most of this investors challenge and that will help us bring more uncomfortable moments for Kai that entertain just everyone which we all love so much. You can go to marketplace.org/GIVESMART or click on the link in the show notes, again that’s Marketplace.org/GIVESMART, and if you are in a position to give, we would really appreciate it and thank you in advance.

Kai Ryssdal: Alright, I believe Drew Jostad is on the line. There we go. Okay, half full, half empty is the game, our thoughts on various topics. Well, look, I mean, there was peril in that last, you know, minute and a half of this podcast. Drew Jostad is the guy who does this with us. Drew, you there? Please save me.

Drew Jostad: I have a special all holiday half, full half empty, but I did not add sleigh bells to the music. That’s, that’s my bad.

Kimberly Adams: I opened my curtain so you can see my decorations today.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, yeah. Lots, lots of love for that spiral staircase already. I’ll tell you.

Drew Jostad: Your first topic is increased holiday delivery hours from the United States Postal Service, including starting at 6am and on Sundays. Half full or half empty?

Kai Ryssdal: Wow. So I guess I’m half full for the consumers of America. I’m half empty for the postal workers who have to do that. I also think it’s of note that Louis DeJoy, the Postmaster General of the United States, has recognized reality and knows that there’s an extra burden this year. That’s where I am.

Kimberly Adams: Same, but also half empty on finding enough people to actually make that work.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, yeah.

Kimberly Adams: I, I’ve talked to a couple people who work with the Postal Service and they were talking about the just full on effort they’re making to try to recruit people to work for the Postal Service.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, really? That’s so interesting.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, because they need like, hundreds of thousands of people not just for the holidays. And apparently one of the things that they’re telling them is, is that look, you know, yes, there’s the holiday work, but if you know can get a full-time job with the Postal Service, you know, that’s a long-term job with benefits and, you know, pensions and all these other things and so I’m not getting the exact details of the offer right, but the point being that a lot of the jobs that are being offered around the holiday season are for temporary jobs that end. And one of the ways that the Postal Service is trying to pitch itself is that this is a job, yes, we’ll hire you for the holidays, but there’s more of a long-term track and there could be a career. I mean, look, I, I feel like one of the things that we’ve learned in the pandemic is that we need to be mindful and respectful of what we’re asking other people to do. And do we really want to be asking our postal service workers to kind of kill themselves so, because we mailed our packages late? Eh, I don’t know. I’ll just try to get my stuff out earlier.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah. Alright, next, Drew.

Drew Jostad: Half full or half empty on the return of office holiday parties?

Kai Ryssdal: Hmm. Kimberly?

Kimberly Adams: Half empty, those things were always fraught. I mean–

Kai Ryssdal: They are a little painful and they’re kind of fraught.

Kimberly Adams: And risky, and especially in this era of Me Too and people saying inappropriate things about race all the time, I don’t know that you need to mix alcohol into that. And I love my colleagues and I’m happy to see them, you know, at a restaurant and we hang, we, I do hang out with my colleagues and folks are awesome. But I, these big, organized holiday parties with a lot of booze and a lot of food and spending when you’re not giving your employees raises, eh, I feel like I can pass on that. Half empty.

Kai Ryssdal: What Kimberly said, I’m down with that.

Drew Jostad: Okay, 2021–

Kimberly Adams: We say as we’re drinking together.

Drew Jostad: Exactly. 2021 was a record, was the record year, highest year for feature films and TV movies related to Christmas and the holidays. Half full or half empty on holiday movies?

Kimberly Adams: All the way full, all the way full. I have spent many a day binge watching holiday movies back to back to back. The more formulaic, the better. I love it. And I enjoy it. My mother loves it. We’ll be on the phone like, which Hallmark movie are you watching today? I don’t know, which Lifetime movie are you walking, watching today? Just, not last night but the night before, I participated in my annual ritual where basically everyone in my family at some point in the holiday season watches this particular version of the Christmas Carol, I think it’s called. I’m not sure if it’s called Christmas Carol or A Christmas Carol, it’s a 1970 version with Albert Finney and it will be watched by just about everybody in my family at some point this season. I watched it the night before last. Full on full on holiday movies.

Kai Ryssdal: That’s so funny. So two things, number one, I’ve got a, I’ve got a friend who writes those Hallmark, some of those Hallmark movies and he starts like in, in April and, and it’s a huge portion of his income and he kind of loves it. I’m like, you go man, whatever. Number two, Diehard is a Christmas movie. And number three, if it’s not A Wonderful Life, I don’t care.

Kimberly Adams: Said the same thing in the YouTube chat. Not a huge fan of It’s a Wonderful Life. It feels like a little bit of a downer to me. I mean, I guess it’s an economic Christmas movie. So I guess it’s on brand for us.

Kai Ryssdal: I’m a Jimmy Stewart fan. But anyway. Alright, Drew, what else you got?

Drew Jostad: Half full or half empty on the return of the Rose Parade?

Kimberly Adams: Ambivalent.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, if you’re not in LA, and specifically in Pasadena, which is vaguely where I am, I don’t know why you would care. I personally, I mean, it’s a big deal around here, right? I mean, my local town and local towns around put huge amounts of civic energy into the Rose Parade. And it’s super fun to watch. And when my bigger boys were little, I would pop them on my shoulders and we would walk a block and a half up the street and watch the parade go by, but otherwise, you know, I mean, it’s cool but meh, you know.

Kimberly Adams: I cede my opinion on this to Drew. You’re in California. What do you think?

Drew Jostad: I should have been ready for that. I really have the same ambivalence over here, though. Unfortunately.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, unless you’re, no joke, unless you’re in within short driving or reasonable walking distance of Colorado Avenue in Pasadena, you should have no opinion other than I’m going to watch it before the football game starts, truly.

Kimberly Adams: If anyone watches the footballs.

Kai Ryssdal: Boy, yes, that’s a whole different thing. I mean, you know, Utah, Ohio State, who cares? But anyway. I’m gonna alienate all the Utah fans.

Drew Jostad: Before you do that, Mariah Carey’s Christmas hit All I Want For Christmas Is You this week became the first holiday song to be certified diamond. Half full or half empty on that song?

Kimberly Adams: All the way full. She deserves it.

Kai Ryssdal: She does. Um, I don’t love that song. But props to her for writing it and, and making it happen. There you go. I’ll go with that.

Kimberly Adams: My niece was at my house the other day and confessed she also did not like–she’s 11. Bad auntie moment here. She confessed that she also does not like that song and incurred the wrath of everyone over 30 around her. And we forced her to do a sing along and by the end of it she liked it.

Kai Ryssdal: Speaking of bad auntie.

Kimberly Adams: Yes, yes.

Kai Ryssdal: You will sing!

Kimberly Adams: Many of us attempted to hit the notes. It was entertaining, I must say.

Kai Ryssdal: We’re going out on Mariah. That’s fine. We can go out on Mariah. Speaking of Mariah and the season and the holiday, we are taking a break for the next couple of weeks. Back with new shows, mark your calendars, January the 10th. In the meanwhile, dropping some of our favorite deep dives on your podcast feeds. Look out for those starting next Tuesday. Otherwise, we are back in 2022. Enjoy yourselves, your family, and whatever it is that you do this time of year but, but mostly, honestly, just unwind. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m just gonna unwind, you know?

Kimberly Adams: Good for you. And I hope that folks take care of themselves. You know, like we didn’t expect to be here this time last year, where we are. So just be gentle with yourselves and your families and take care. And if you want to get in touch with us while we are  on break, you can still do that, you can send us an email at makemesmart@marketplace.org. Or leave us a voice message with all of your holiday feelings and things. We’re at 508-827-6287, or 508-UB-SMART.

Kai Ryssdal: My goodness.

Kimberly Adams: Today’s episode of Make Me Smart was produced by Marissa Cabrera and Marque Greene. It was engineered by the wonderful Drew Jostad. The senior producer is Bridget Bodnar.

Kai Ryssdal: This guy can do anything. The team behind the YouTube live stream today and our game half full, half empty is Mel Rosenberg and Emily McCune. The theme music for half full, half empt–see what I mean about this guy can do everything–was Drew Jostad’s work, and the director of on demand is Donna Tam. Just got in under the wire, Donna. If we had run out of music, I would have just not been able to say your name.

Kimberly Adams: No love for Donna. Yeah, happy holidays, everybody.

Kai Ryssdal: But, but yeah, take care of yourselves. We’re back in the new year.

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The team

Marissa Cabrera Producer
Bridget Bodnar Senior producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Marque Greene Associate Producer