The Groceries No One Is Panic-Buying

COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is a very serious threat. The highly contagious respiratory virus that has been infecting tens of thousands continues to spread around the world and has people concerned and governments asking everyone to practice social distancing and self-quarantine as much as possible. After all, it is the safest way to stop the spread of the virus. A side effect of all of this is that a whole lot of people are stocking up on necessities and then some. Why is toilet paper a must-have at the moment? No one really knows. No one understands why certain items are disappearing from shelves, but people are in the frenzy and sometimes logic just flies out the window. No, you don't need seven jars of pickles. Pickles are delicious, but trust us, you don't need that many. This is what we call panic buying

Beyond the sociological fascination of the act, panic buying is causing a lot of vulnerable people to be unable to get their basic necessities, including the elderly and low-income families. Hoarding groceries and supplies is causing more harm than good, and some people are even trying to profit off of it. However, not everything is being bought up in bulk. Some things just aren't desirable, even when people are preparing to be  holed up in their homes for weeks on end. Some of these items may not surprise you, but others may cause a raised eyebrow or two.

These are the groceries no one is panic-buying.

Dasani water

Bottled water is disappearing all over the country, with people concerned about being able to have enough of it, especially if they or a loved one comes down with the coronavirus. However, in grocery stores, Costcos, and pharmacies all over the world, there is a peculiar trend. Even if all the water is gone, there is a plentiful supply of Dasani. And only Dasani.

According to many people on the internet, Dasani water tastes very bad. And we mean, bad. A lot of people claim it's just cheaply bottled tap water, while others say the reason for the taste and why Dasani is just bad in general, is because they add salt to their water. And it's true — Coca-Cola does indeed add salt to Dasani. They say it's a negligible amount, but it's there simply to add taste. It's because, at least according to Bob Mahler, the Soil Science and Water Quality professor at the University of Idaho, pure water by itself is tasteless, and people like taste. But no matter what they do it, the pallets of leftover water make it pretty obvious that people don't like Dasani.

Oranges

Now here's a peculiar one. Oranges and other citrus are being left on shelves in large numbers. 

That's right, the Vitamin C-packed fruit that helps keep your immune system healthy, fights free radicals, and is especially good at boosting iron absorption for those living a plant-based lifestyle are being left on the shelves in grocery stores around the world during a pandemic. It doesn't make much sense. You'd think of all the fruits available, people would be going for the ones who actually help your immune system. Just one orange will more or less give you your full day's worth of Vitamin C. You don't even have to buy 10. Just one.

Not to mention, if you don't get enough Vitamin C in your life, you can face some serious complications like scurvy. Don't get scurvy while protecting yourself from COVID-19... seems like a win-win to us. 

The mind boggles.

Chocolate hummus

This is a collective decision that we approve of. 

Hummus is traditionally made with smashed chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon, salt and pepper. It's a spread, a dip, and to some people a religion. There are endless variations of it, especially commercially. However, not all of these variations are good. You've got your roasted red pepper and your olive tapenade hummus — and then you have things like chocolate hummus. 

Sweet and savory can work, it's a beautiful paring, but the idea of chocolate flavored hummus, or even a chocolate spread with the texture of hummus is just so off-putting, it deserves to rot on the shelves during the panic buying spree of COVID-19. Chickpeas and cocoa are just not something that should ever go together. 

If you are delighted to hear that chocolate hummus is being ignored, you're not the only one. If you're excited for other reasons and can't wait to buy it up, well, that's your choice. Go on then, no one is going to fight you in the aisles for it, that's for sure.

Vegan meat substitutes

Well, good news for vegans, chances are that you're golden. Meat shelves are barren all across the country, but one section that seems well, if not fully, stocked is plant-based protein. This is referring to vegetarian and vegan meat substitutes. Some are made out of vegetables, others made out of soy and wheat protein, among other ingredients. Various tweets are poking fun at the fact that no one is buying vegan meat even in a crisis, but really, it's just good news for the vegetarians and vegans of the world.

Around five percent of the United States population follows a plant-based diet, so either they're not panic buying, or there's just plenty to go around. With the popularity of Beyond Meat the past year, one might be surprised there's still some available on the shelf. After all, it's said to taste just like real meat, but it seems when push comes to shove during a pandemic, people prefer the real stuff. 

If you're craving "meat" but aren't able to find any on the shelves of your local grocery store, you might just want to check out the vegan section. Chances are, there's plenty for you to choose from.

Tortillas

Apparently people stocking up for the coronavirus aren't interested in making tacos or burritos. Bread sections of supermarkets all over are barren, not a roll to be seen. However, tortillas seem to be thriving, at least in some areas

It's a little surprising given how versatile tortillas can be. Tacos, burritos, arepas, chimichangas, quesadillas, or just a wrap of your choice. Not to mention, flour tortillas have a longer shelf life than bread, and corn tortillas actually have a lower calorie count than most commercial breads. Like bread, you can also freeze them for use later on. Though really, why wait for tacos later when you can have tacos now?

Granted, your tortilla supply will vary depending on your neighborhood's demographic. A lot of people on the internet have recommended heading to specialty food stores for supplies, as they're less likely to be swarmed, probably have everything you need, and are often locally-owned. If you're going to panic buy, at least support your local small businesses while you're doing so.

Liquor

Whenever there is a hurricane or a blizzard on the horizon, one of the major purchases people make is alcohol. There's even been weather forecasts depicting how many wine bottles you should be buying to get through it all. After all, if you're going to be cooped up for awhile in a stressful situation, a lot of people would prefer to have a little something to take the edge off. 

Ironically, this doesn't seem to be the case for panic buying for COVID-19 — at least in some locations. There's plenty of liquor still on the shelves all across the country. Walking into a liquor store or a grocery store if your state allows it has offered up a pretty well stocked supply. There may be a smaller selection of some wines or popular liquors, but overall, there's still a lot to go around.

This may change in the coming days as more states are asking bars and restaurants to close. However, for now, people are thinking that maybe it won't be so bad if there's still so much alcohol out there. Oh, and before we forget, no, do not use vodka to make your own hand sanitizer. Store-bought alcohol doesn't have the alcohol content needed to kill viruses. Distilleries, however, have the tools to make it, like one in Atlanta that is donating their homemade version to those in need.

Pork

Another surprising addition to this list is that pork seems to be hanging around much longer than its fellow meat options. Chicken gizzards have been found to be left behind, but other than that, meat has been seriously flying off the shelves. We're going to assume that this doesn't include bacon, as it seems to be the world's favorite food, but rather tenderloins, chops, shoulder, and butt. 

If you're practicing social distancing, having a cook out or smoking a pork shoulder may not be the best idea. Also, pork is more expensive than chicken, which undoubtedly disappears first. Regardless of the reason, if you're looking for some pork chops, you might just be in luck.

Geographically this most likely differs, and it's also probably dependent on the religious makeup of your community (pork isn't permitted for those who are Jewish or Muslim). Also, it's still Lent after all, and those practicing it aren't eating as much meat as they may typically be doing so.

Bananas

This may not be true for all locations, but there seems to be such a surplus of bananas at one Twitter user's grocery store, that they're being  stored on shelves where the toilet paper used to be. There are lot of questions here that will never be answered, but one is: why aren't people eating bananas? They're good for you, have a ton of vitamins, and should you get sick, are an easily stomached food for when you may feel too miserable to eat anything. 

This does bring up a question of what the stocking situation at many of these stores must be like with so much being bought so quickly. Maybe this grocery store overestimated the amount of bananas people would need in a pandemic. 

It's not exactly something they've had to think about before. Placing them in the aisle where toilet paper and paper towels are is an... odd marketing tactic. Perhaps they hope those seeking out toilet paper will instead be reminded that yes, potassium is important, and pick up bananas instead. Everything is bananas right now, so it seems on brand.

Matzo

Crackers and flour are disappearing from shelves as you read this. People really are just grabbing anything they can think of that they may possibly need or want. This is despite the fact that even in countries that are on complete lockdown, grocery stores are still open. There will be stuff available. 

However, if you ever wanted to try your hand at making Matzo ball soup, it's time for you to seize the moment. Matzo is plentiful in supermarkets all around. Be it the crackers or meal, it doesn't seem to be on a lot of people's shopping list or an impulse buy. Granted, if you're not familiar with matzo, it's unlikely you've even seen it in a store, as it's typically shelved in a dedicated kosher section. Matzo is quite versatile though, you can bake a lot of things with it, from cake to latkes.

However, Passover is approaching and Matzo might just become hard to come by in the coming weeks. Get it while it's hot.

Peeps

Ok, this one isn't all the surprising. 

Easter is right around the corner and that means the neon marshmallow sugar bomb chicks known as Peeps are everywhere. They explode in the microwave and are mostly only eaten by small children who want to turn their tongue an outrageous color and then run around on a sugar high. Not exactly what any parent wants to deal with as so many states have closed schools for weeks, if not the rest of the year, at the recommendation of the CDC. That's a lot of children staying home with a parent who now has to work from home and tend to their offspring. 

Yeah, we would avoid the peeps too.

If, for some reason, you actually do want to buy up some Peeps to keep your kids entertained, there is actually quite a lot you can do with them. You can make Play-Dough, pancakes, or cover them in chocolate for an extra special treat. Or, you know, save your sanity, teeth, and stomach and just leave these in the grocery store. Just because it's still available doesn't mean you should go and buy it (obviously, a lot of people already know that).

Shrimp-flavored ramen

Now, the ramen supply at your local grocery store is very dependent on your populace. Live in a college town? It's most definitely depleted. But if not, while there won't be full shelves of it, you might find that certain flavors are more favored than others. Shrimp ramen, especially of the instant kind, isn't exactly the cream of the crop. On a scale of flavored instant ramens, it's most definitely at the bottom, and thus, is left behind in the corona virus shopping spree. Chicken ramen is definitely a goner, and both beef and pork have been stuck somewhere in the middle. If you happen to like shrimp ramen, well, good for you, there's plenty to go around.

If you're looking for a way to spice up your ramen without needing to use a lot of ingredients, try adding some frozen vegetables, kimchi, some leftover chicken, or top it with an egg. There are plenty of ways to make instant ramen a fancy dish for quarantine. 

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts get a bad name. Ever since you were a child, people have bad mouthed them and more than likely made you hate them because they cooked them improperly. It should come as no surprise that they are among the vegetables that aren't being bought up. Other vegetables seen available at some grocery stores are green beans and ears of corn. Fresh vegetables are great for your immune system, though corn is actually a grain. Maybe people just don't want to deal with cooking them? Too much work? Who knows.

While not the case at this particular supermarket, the Brussels sprouts that are sold still on the stalk may also look intimidating and impractical to someone not a fan of them or wholly familiar with them. All you need to do is snap or cut them off, but we understand if you think it looks like an alien life form. It kind of does. 

Oh, by the way, should you choose to add these delightful little sprouts to your shopping cart, do yourself a favor and roast them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. You'll become an immediate convert.

Hawaiian pizza

The most divisive of all pizzas is not making the cut when it comes to COVID-19 panic buying. Whether you feel like pineapples on pizza is an insult to Italy or are fervently in defense of it, you have to agree that it is the black sheep of the pizza world. 

A lot of frozen food, including frozen pizzas, are being bought up during this shopping frenzy. You know what's not being purchased? Hawaiian pizza. Poor Hawaiian pizza, so few love you, or at least put on the pretense of hating you. When the president of Iceland dragged the topping choice last year, a lot of people came to Hawaiian pizza's defense, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. This is especially applicable because pineapple on pizza was born in Ontario, the creation of a Greek immigrant who wanted to attract new customers.

It seems that even when desperation sets in, there's only so far people are willing to go. Pineapple on pizza seems to be that line for a lot of people.

Watermelon

When you think of watermelon, images of summer picnics at the beach probably come to mind. Warm weather, family gatherings, or perhaps even a big boozy cocktail. The image many people have of their proverbial coronavirus food bunkers do not include the large melons, as evidenced by this photo. 

There's a lot of fruit that people are buying up, but watermelon is most definitely not on that list. They're cumbersome and heavy, and the idea of panic buying multiple watermelons, while hilarious, isn't that realistic. We haven't quite reached that stage yet.

That said, you've got to feel a little bad for the abandoned melons. They're not even that good this time of year, but they are being neglected in large quantities. This is sadly a very real issue for Myanmar watermelon farmers who have been hit hard by the effects of the coronavirus. Their lack of sales to China have caused entire harvests to rot in the field and for labor forces to be severely cut down.

Soap

For all the medical experts, media, and internet has been harping on about washing your hands to help combat the coronavirus, there is a shocking amount of soap not being bought. People are price gauging hand sanitizer like there's no tomorrow, but regular soap, the soap that is proven to fight germs and kill the virus? Yeah, people aren't buying that. We know. We know. It could be the hype over hand sanitizer that's causing people not to think clearly. They're so hyper focused on finding hand sanitizer with a high enough alcohol content and freaking out when they can't that they just seem to forget good ole soap. 

Maybe people just think it's too basic? But that's the point. It's simple, yet it also breaks down things at a molecular level. That includes viruses, especially the coronavirus. Can't find wipes or sanitizer? Don't panic. Just buy soap. There's plenty of it available. 

Besides, there's a lot of soap brands out there, so you can even have your pick of options. How novel. However, it does seem like poor Irish Spring is being even more neglected than usual. Give Irish Spring a chance, it smells quite nice, actually.