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Just in Time for the Holidays - A Butter Shortage in Norway

Norwegians are facing a Christmas tragedy.

They may not have enough cookies.

Kristin Lee | Getty Images

Apparently there's an "acute butter shortage" in Norway, blamed in part on a low-carb, high fat diet fad, plus poor weather impacting dairy output by cows.

Store shelves are butter-less.

The timing couldn't be worse. Norwegians, according to Agence France-Presse, often bake seven different types of biscuits for the holidays, and margarine won't do.

The result?

Fatter prices. "Online sellers have offered 500-gramme packs for up to 350 euros ($465)."

Wait. What?

People are paying nearly $500 for a pound?

I can't believe it is butter.

"Last Friday, customs officers stopped a Russian at the Norwegian-Swedish border and seized 90 kilos (198 pounds) of butter stashed in his car," AFP reports.

I have no idea what import restrictions Norway has on butter, but I decided I was willing to take the risk. I went on Orbitz and checked the cost of a round trip ticket from LA to Oslo--$1,500 on Air France. I figured I'd need a couple hundred for transport, food and a night in a hotel. Let's say that brought my total to $2,000.

I would only need to bring with me four pounds of butter--a $12 investment--and sell them on the streets of Oslo to break even. Anything beyond that would be butter-based frosting on the cake.

However, I could end up toast.

Before packing my bags, I decided to do a tad more research.

"It’s no surprise that profiteers are looking to make a buck off desperate butter-hunters," reports Time. "Auction sites are seeing spiking prices on all things butter, where a 250-gram piece--about two sticks--is selling for $13. That’s roughly four times the average."

Wait (again). What happened to $465 a pound?? Thirteen dollars for a half pound? Now I'll need to bring 77 pounds of butter to break even.

That'll be harder to stow in the overhead bin. My plans for instant wealth suddenly melted away.

I guess that's the way the cookie crumbles.

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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