The Strange Pasta Shortage You Didn't Even Notice

Another shortage? Yes, you read that right! As if 2020 couldn't get any worse, the news of an all new pasta shortage is emerging. Earlier this year, as Americans across the country stocked their pantries with anything they could while COVID-19 spread throughout the states, one of the preferred go-to's for panic-buyers was, of course, dry pasta. According to Slate, as demand increased for our favorite sauce covered noodles, luckily so did the production rate. In fact, suppliers reported a 30 percent increase back in May in pasta production volumes, something that had not been seen in a long time, as pasta had been produced in roughly the same amounts for many years. Then, boom! Suddenly everyone wanted a ton it, so it makes sense that there's going to be some inconveniences for pasta-lovers in the U.S. 

But it wasn't just any pasta that caused panic with its sudden disappearance, it was none other than the "best long pasta there ever was or will be," according to Bon Appétit — bucatini. If you're not a loyal bucatini eater, it's quite possible you didn't even notice this shortage; but for those who are truly enamored with the hollow pasta, it's the cherry on top of an already horrible year.

But why bucatini?

Loyal bucatini lover Rachel Handler went as far as to investigate where all the bucatini has gone for Grub Street, and to their surprise there was no one answer. Instead, Handler found a combination of reasons that include an FDA halt on the popular De Cecco pasta brand for a lack of sufficient iron levels (De Cecco bucatini will most likely return to stores in February 2021) and, unfortunately, the stress on production by the ongoing pandemic, which caused some brands to focus more on specific shapes.

Why the shift in production to certain pasta types? Ultimately, it appears to come down to popularity. While bucatini is a popular pasta in some circles, it is not one of the country's favorite shapes — those spots go to reigning kings spaghetti and elbow macaroni (via Slate). In the quest to meet demands, many brands decided to focus on generic pasta shapes that are more popular among customers than specialty products like the aforementioned bucatini. As pasta manufacturers struggle to keep up with demand and enforce strict COVID-19 protocols to keep their factory staff safe, next time you're looking for a specific pasta at your local grocery store, you'll at least know why you're stuck with spaghetti for the time being.