A visit to Montreal isn’t complete without a meal at Schwartz’s Hebrew Delicatessen, Canada’s oldest deli. Founded in 1928 by Reuben Schwartz, a Jewish immigrant from Romania, it has come to be owned by Celine Dion along with a few other partners. Despite various changes in ownership throughout its 100 years of existence, the smoked meat has stayed the same.
The classic Schwartz’s order is a smoked meat sandwich, a pickle, fries, and a Cott black cherry soda, Montreal’s answer to Dr. Brown’s black cherry. It tastes like a fizzy cherry candy, and for most people a meal at Schwartz’s simply isn’t complete without it. It’s not just about the fact that it tastes good — the carbonation helps to cleanse the palate while eating a fatty smoked meat sandwich, refreshing it for the next bite.
Cott’s was founded in 1923 in Port Chester, New York and was brought to Montreal in 1952 by Harry Pencer after his sons were introduced to it while at summer camp in New Hampshire. The soda has developed a following in Quebec, becoming almost as iconic as the smoked meat sandwich!
But for the last two weeks, customers at Schwartz’s haven’t been able to enjoy a Cott black cherry with their smoked meat sandwich. Some people say that the shortage is due to the trade tensions between the U.S. and Canada, namely because of the tariffs that President Trump’s administration put on Canadian metal products.
However, a representative of Refresco North America, the company that purchased the Cott Corporation earlier this year, said that the shortage was unrelated to the tariffs, but rather because of an aluminum can shortage in North America. JTA also reported similarly last week:
But it looks like a shortage on aluminum cans precedes the trade wars. Craft beer brewers and sparkling water makers have been increasingly shipping their products in cans over bottles, creating a demand that can manufacturers have been unable to meet, according to Manufacturing America, a trade publication. “Brewers have sometimes had to wait weeks or months for orders of cans to be fulfilled,” they write.
According to Frank Silva, the manager at Schwartz’s, this hasn’t happened in the 37 years he’s worked at the deli. He says that soda should be back in stock in two weeks, but until then many are foregoing any kind of drink with their sandwich. As it turns out, tensions with Trump aren’t actually to blame.
Here’s hoping we can start enjoying a Cott black cherry with our smoked meat sandwich soon. I know that I’ll be cracking a cold can open as soon as they’re back in stock to celebrate — and maybe I’ll hide a few away just in case.