Widespread hoarding was reported at several Portland, Oregon area supermarkets Saturday morning as concerned residents prepared for the arrival of legendary eater Verona Masongsong and, in response, Oregon's governor Katherine Brown declared a State of Emergency, reassuring the public there is currently enough food stockpiled "to last at least two weeks".
As shoppers frantically stocked-up on essential food items, six people were injured at a Food4Less in the downtown area, four others at a organic market in the Pearl District and three more at the Whole Foods near Reed College, authorities said. Most were treated and released at local hospitals, but two suffered so-called "trample" injuries and were listed in serious, but jittery condition at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.
In addition, Powell's City of Books reported record sales of survival guides Friday afternoon as rumors spread Masongsong could arrive as early as Sunday night.
"I want to tell the people of Oregon, and those in the Portland metropolitan area in particular, that we have alerted both the federal authorities and the World Food Bank of the situation and we will have food for almost everybody", said Gov. Brown in a statement broadcast on the Emergency Public Radio. Brown added though schools were let out early Friday, they are expected to be reopened on a normal schedule as early as Tuesday.
Masongsong - who has led the nation in most food consumed and least food shared for the last three years - attempted to diffuse the crisis earlier this week when she - to the shock of all who witnessed - actually refused some food.
Masongsong said "No, thank you" when offered a tuna pepper Thursday afternoon by a local reporter who was at Pizzeria Mozza. As the Pizzeria's maitre D' Eva Gallner looked on in disbelief, the reporter asked Verona, "Are you okay?"
"I don't share my food, so why should I expect you to share yours?", Masongsong answered. However, when offered again, Masongsong took a tuna pepper.
Verona Masongsong first gathered local news in 2010 at a Pizzeria Mozza anniversary celebration. As more than 100 Mozza employees mingled, Silverton spotted Verona sitting alone and quietly relishing a Double Double. Upon closer inspection, it was revealed that a stack of empty Double Double wrappers were piled on a nearby chair. At that very moment, Hall of Fame Osteria Mozza server Ralph Waxman exclaimed "What the fuck happened to all the In-N-Out burgers?"
Masongsong originally denied any association with the missing burgers, but a review of the security footage showed otherwise. Like many legends, the actual number of In-N-Out Double Doubles Verona Masongsong ate that night is in dispute. Der Spiegel, Germany's premiere weekly news magazine, has put the total as high as 17, while the New York Times, in a recent editorial, listed the total at 11.
Not long after that, Masongsong was in the news again when Silverton threatened to fire her for coming to work sober all the time, a condition - unlike in the past - no longer considered acceptable. A quick learner, Verona took to the bottle.
And she took the plate. With gusto. She garnered a reputation for being first in line at a buffet and first to grab a to-go box.
Recently, at the farewell celebration for OG Pizzeria Mozza bartender Sean "Big Tasty" Philbin, Masongsong was reported to have taken away four of the seven trays of Phillips BBQ ribs purchased for the party. The haul was so large that Masongsong allegedly enlisted the help of two Samoan men to carry the ribs to her waiting - and already idling - car.
Though the Oregon presidential primary is not until May 17th, candidates on the stump for next Saturday's South Carolina primary turned the Masongsong food crisis into an political issue as they campaigned Saturday.
Speaking to a crowd at a junior college in Myrtle Beach, front runner Donald A. Trump said "When I am president, America will be so great and so abundant we will have enough food for 40 Veronas."
At a rally in Hilton Head, Jeb Bush called that statement "Typical bombastic Trump stupidity and an impossibility". The Jebster vowed if he won the presidency, he would introduce legislation banning Masongsong from any HomeTown Buffet in the states that voted for him. (That could be as many as one state.)
Not surprisingly, Marco "The Robot" Rubio blamed the Masongsong crisis on President Barack Obama and ISIS. "When this is all said and done, we will find out this Verona situation was an elaborate Obama slash ISIS plan to induce wide spread hunger across America so the black flag of ISIS can fly over the White House," Rubio said. "I just hope the food shortage extends to Chris Christie."
On the democratic side, Hillary Clinton, eager to earn the young female vote simply said "Verona, you go, girl."
Masongsong will be moving to Oregon to be with recently-retired PIzzeria Mozza chef de cuisine Nikko Jerrel Marquez. Sources told Krikorian Writes that Nikko lured her to Oregon by promising to cook for her "three times a day". Masongsong reportedly replied "Three? What am I supposed to do in the afternoon and evening? Starve?"
Still, pro-Masongson advocates insist that her love of food is not only an inspiration to millions of people around the planet, but a testimony to the greatness of "The Corner", the street name for Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza, Mozza 2Go and Chi Spacca.
"Who works best for Nancy - and The Corner - is the worker who loves great food so much that she -or he - might occasionally lose their mind in pursuit of that food," said Moruno chef Chris Feldmeier, former chef de cuisine of Osteria Mozza and himself a formidable eater. "Why do you think they got rid of Arielle Chernin? It wasn't because she was drunk all the time and getting into bar fights. It was because she only ate tiny raw carrots. Verona? Verona can put it away. Up, up and away."
Nancy Silverton said she was sad to see Verona - and Nikko - go. "They can come back whenever they like. And I'm sure they will be back. Big deal if our food costs soared when Verona was working. She was worth it. "