Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can rest assured their Cheezie cravings will still be satisfied, despite a fire at its Ontario factory that has brought production to a standstill, says the company that manufacturers the salty snack.
A blaze broke out Tuesday around noon in one of the two cooking facilities in W.T. Hawkins’s Belleville factory.
No workers were injured and there was no structural damage to the building, but the fire did destroy some equipment, including the cooker’s ventilation equipment, said the company.
That means no Cheezies have been cooked since.
“It does disrupt our normal flow, in the busiest time of year,” said Tony McGarvey, Hawkins’s director of finance.
While they’re perhaps not as iconic a summer snack as the ice cream cone, McGarvey said Cheezies are still a summer staple, and the company runs shifts 24 hours a day from April to October to keep up with demand.
“Everybody seems to have more picnics and family gatherings. We find it to be our busiest time,” he said, figuring four days’ worth of production will be lost in total.
Calm down, Cheezie fans
Workers are now emptying the plant of the corn meal, cheese and other raw ingredients that somehow come together to create snack perfection. McGarvey said the company is aiming to restart production Sunday night.
“Cheezies will be continuing to flow this summer,” he said, in a rallying cry to unnecessary calories everywhere.
There’s still a supply of Cheezies flowing.– Tony McGarvey
Packaged Cheezies are stored in a separate warehouse unaffected by the fire, which McGarvey said means there will be minimal disruption to store shelves across the country.
“That should calm down the Cheezie fans, our customers out in Newfoundland and Labrador, and of course across Canada, that to know that there’s still a supply of Cheezies flowing through the rail lines as we speak.”
McGarvey did not have exact figures of how much product gets shipped to Newfoundland and Labrador, where the neon orange crisps occupy a special place in hearts and stomachs provincewide.
“It’s a lot,” he said.
This is not the first fire in Cheezie history, as several years ago a W.T. Hawkins warehouse burned to the ground. However, all that was lost in that fire was some cardboard, said McGarvey.