Summer’s Spice of Life — Mustard — a Hot Mess Amid Global Shortages

mustard on hotdogs

What debatably began as an overly hot summer in Canada’s vast (we imagine) mustard plant fields is putting the world’s hot and spicy habit on rations, if recent reports are to be believed.

The baby formula shortage was bad enough, but fun food fact: Nobody puts baby formula on hot dogs — including babies. So are they really predicting a mustard shortage? In summer?

Afraid so. This five-alarm news is only now reaching the U.S., but they’ve known about it since last year when France’s Dijon region also came up short on its mustard seed haul.

As The Guardian reported, “French mustard producers said seed production in 2021 was down 50% after poor harvests, which they said had been brought on by the changing climate in France’s Burgundy region and Canada, the second-largest mustard seed producer in the world.”

Perhaps sensing a disturbance in the condiment force, Oscar Mayer got out ahead of the story with a clever public relations stunt in which high school grads of 2022 can be driven to prom in an iconic Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. We’d pay to eavesdrop on the Mean Girls as one pulls up.

It all sounds somewhat hilarious to the layperson, but joke about it to anyone even peripherally attached to the global mustard-industrial complex at your own peril. They’re freaking out.

Case of the Disappearing Dijon

On Wednesday (June 22), NBC News quoted Christophe Planes, an executive with France’s Reine de Dijon mustard brand as saying, “We’re in a crisis we haven’t seen for 25 years. The price of seeds has gone up three or four times, and maybe five times soon. And, on top of that, there is no supply. The scarcity is such that we have a potential 50 percent decrease in seeds … so our production is down 50 percent.”

Question for Planes and other Big Mustard bigshots: Exactly what are we supposed to put on hot dogs, ham, giant pretzels, pigs in a blanket and, if you’re 12, bologna sandwiches? Ketchup? Hot sauce? He’s right. This is a crisis. Is there anything we can do? Possibly.

What we do know is that Sriracha sauce isn’t an option. There’s a shortage of that too, but the culprit is different. As The New York Times reported Wednesday (June 22), “this year, a shortage of red jalapeño chiles has threatened it all for Sriracha, a beloved condiment made from sun-ripened peppers from Mexico and seasoned with vinegar, salt, sugar and garlic.”

Do You Have Any Grey Poupon? We’ll Pay Double.

The situation is causing concern in other corners all over the map. In the subscription economy, for example, Mustard of the Month subscription box providers may want to rethink quantity and frequency, although chances are that mustard subscribers have hoarded some.

What else replaces mustard on franks? We already did ketchup. Thanks for the tip, 8-year-olds.

Seeking substitutes, we went to what seems an appropriate source, the website Their top choice — horseradish — makes sense, but picture it on a Nathan’s or Hebrew National frankfurter.

Can you?

Should you?

Thank our lucky stars for relish.

The tension in palpable, as seen in a recent incident at the University of Tennessee’s Lindsey Nelson Stadium, where a disgruntled fan tossed a bottle of mustard — presumably empty — onto the field.

Fox Sports Knoxville commentator Charley Collier tweeted a picture of the mustard bottle, asking, “Why is it always mustard?? Why did someone have mustard so readily available??”

Why, indeed? Throwing ballpark mustard at ballplayers, and during a shortage no less.

May the offender dine on saltines and seltzer water at the next game while contemplating the tiny mustard seed — and its outsize impact on a complete summer experience.