The unexpected product people are stocking up on due to coronavirus

There's no denying that the coronavirus is changing everybody's life — people are starting to stay in more and travel less, there are shortages of surgical masks and cleaning products, and Diet Coke may soon be in short supply. While there's no reason for everybody to panic just yet, still, you don't need to be a doomsday prepper to start making provisions in case the excrement does meet the rotating cooling device. 

One of the precautions many people are taking is to stock up on basic household items just in case supplies run low (not inconceivable, considering how much stuff we import from China, where the virus has hit hardest to date) or — worst case scenario — we all come under quarantine.

Some of the items everyone's hoarding are pretty obvious choices — hand sanitizer, disinfectant, first aid kits — but others come as more of a surprise. One unexpected bestseller was something few could have predicted — for some reason, sales of oat milk skyrocketed in late February, and it wasn't due to any insanely popular new addition to Starbucks' secret menu.

Why is everybody buying oat milk?

In any serious situation of this type, one of the most important things to have on hand is food. Specifically, food that won't go bad, and Nielsen market research data shows that sales of fruit snacks, dried beans, energy drinks, and pretzels soared during the week ending February 22nd, by which time the latest coronavirus updates seemed to be leading off every newscast. Surprisingly, though, the top-selling product, showing a growth rate of 306 percent, was oat milk.

So why oat milk? For some reason, milk seems to top everybody's list of products to have on hand in case of emergency, hence the legendary runs on it before every snowstorm (via How Stuff Works). But why the oat variety, specifically? The New York Daily News speculates, "People are likely giving oat milk a shot because, unlike its cow-based counterpart, it can stay in a pantry for up to several months before going bad, as long as it hasn't been opened." While there is such a thing as shelf-stable dairy milk, it's actually kind of gross-tasting. Now that Starbucks' non-dairy menu has made oat milk a popular beverage, this drink is definitely having a moment, one that's likely to continue as long as we're all in fear of the latest pandemic.

Oh, and if your store runs out? Never fear, it's actually quite easy to make DIY oat milk — and you can do so at home, where everything is safe and contagion-free.