Mission accomplished

I blazed through the local grocery store and stocked up on various staples — also cat food (she snick’d her claws at me as I was going out the door, and I know what’s good for me), coffee, cheap cheese, onions, carrots, etc. I noticed that the toilet paper aisle was still an empty wasteland, which I don’t get at all; why are y’all pooping so much? Other points of absence were the dried beans, which I totally understand, that makes sense, and ramen was nearly all gone, unless you like the pork flavor.

I only saw one worker at the store wearing a mask, and no other customers were wearing one, although there weren’t very many in there at 7:30am, so that was a small sample. Now I think I can stay home for another two weeks. Only two weeks of classes left, too!


  1. Bruce Fuentes says

    My wife shopped yesterday on her way home from work. One thing she noticed that was in short supply is flour. All they had was whole wheat and limit one 5 lb bag. I use whole wheat but also use unbleached white flour. Our local small town (very small) convenience store can order me some flour when I run out so I will be fine.
    As for toilet paper, there is one theory that we are not hoarding as much as using it in different places. Also people prefer the extra soft, perfumey stuff at home. While the work stuff and public stuff is cheaper and not as soft. Tus brands like Charmin can not keep up. We have been using recycled for quite a while. It sells out in stores too but I was able to find plenty of it online and at a great price.

  2. says

    My neighborhood supermarkets are providing early-morning senior-only hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Everyone was masked during my last visit last week and only a few customers were present. One of the employees announced at the door that toilet paper was back in stock, causing the clientele to flow in that direction. I went in the opposite direction and shopped in empty aisles. Nice. I can hold off on my next trip till Tuesday or Thursday next week.

  3. Jethro says

    I’ve seen some analyses of the TP issue. Since no one is “pooping on company time” or in restaurants, the demand for consumer TP has skyrocketed while there are huge stockpiles of the big bulk rolls that can only be used in rest rooms. Add in even a little hoarding above the new “organic” demand, and it’s not hard to see why there are shortages. The paper manufacturers are shifting their production capacities, but that takes time.

  4. Walter Solomon says

    Other points of absence were the dried beans

    That may explain all of the pooping.

  5. kevinv says

    It’s not that people are pooping so much as it is they are now pooping at home. Can’t scam free TP off the man at work anymore.

  6. Bruce says

    PZ, at least you are allowed to check on the spiders, and to use the toilet and toilet paper in the science building. Check. I bet the toilet paper there does not fit on your roll at home. So the TP shortage is the fault of people who stopped going at work.
    Unfortunately, nobody is being paid to restock the UMM bathrooms with industrial TP. So when it runs out, you can’t make use of it. Nobody in America can make use of our vast reserves of industrial TP. And nobody wants to train their cat to re-roll it onto the smaller rolls that fit at home.

  7. says

    Essential Costco worker here. I wear gloves, which get changed, and have a mask on while I’m working. I’m not playing games with this stuff. I may survive it, but I could accidentally pass it to someone who can’t, and I don’t want that sort of guilt on my conscience.

    Aw, only kitty food? No kitty treats? My kitty has lots of treats and she seems to tolerate my company fairly well. XD

  8. stroppy says

    I had to resort to Amazon for TP.

    Colorful and interesting makeshift masks out there. Saw a couple wearing what looked like large wash cloths in the fashion of old west bandits. Leaves the chin somewhat exposed.

    I want to thank you for the coffee filter tip, BTW. I wasn’t aware.

  9. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I scored the last six pack of my brand of tp on the shelf during my last grocery run. With my supply bought from before the lockdown, I’m now good until mid summer.

  10. Stuart Smith says

    Normally, half your pooping is done at work, but now many people have been forced to shift 100% of the load to their home, doubling their personal consumption of toilet paper!

  11. wzrd1 says

    Don’t bother with Amazon, who automagically raises the prices with demand. Get the TP at either an office supply store or a janitorial supply store.
    The commercial toilet paper is via an entirely different supply chain, including different factories and usually contains recycled paper. Consumer toilet paper normally doesn’t contain recycled paper, save a few save the earth brand types that are frequently overpriced.
    I usually get most of my paper products from an office supply store. Neither my ass, nor my printer notice the difference with recycled fiber, but my bank account notices.

    I tried ordering from Peapod last night, as my Giant supermarket is two miles away and I’d rather not spew whatever virus is nibbling on me inside of the store. Alas, Peapod apparently doesn’t realize that refrigerated delivery trucks can be leased and drivers easily hired, so any possible delivery was three weeks out. I closed the order, saving $160, but not getting more food. I guess I’ll have to get food from the food bank, if I can find someone to run and get it. Ramen was in stock, in every flavor, but I prefer chicken colored salt ramen soup. ;)
    By the 12 pack.
    Fortunately, I keep around a month’s food supply on hand, at least for canned and frozen foods and if necessary, I can bake some bread.

    Oh, another entertaining absence in stores: yeast packets. Apparently, none of the shoppers realize that the bottled yeast is just as good as the packets and a lot cheaper. Bread machine yeast, plain yeast, same beast, but the bread machine yeast does prefer slightly warmer temperatures.
    Bread is ever so hard to make, per some people. After all, it’s flour, salt, sugar, water and yeast… We’re partial to adding dill weed to the bread.
    Or fold in some cheese and lunch meat/dried beef into the center of the loaf. That one made the kids a fine lunch and once their friends tried a taste, I had ever so many orders, yet not a penny to cover the cost. Too bad for them, as we couldn’t afford to feed other kids.

  12. says

    I must be in the minority in that I avoid taking a dump anywhere public, especially at work. For a white-collar workplace, those people are just disgusting. So the TP buying spike just baffled me. Sure, I live alone. But the 12 rolls that I had on hand will last me at least until July.

  13. stroppy says

    @ 13

    I was thinking along the same lines. In all of my working life, I’ve probably only used public restrooms for anything but urination a handful of times. I suppose that tp used for urination would be enough to put pressure on supply, but I can’t help thinking that hoarding accounts for a significant portion of the problem.

  14. katahdin says

    Here is a good summary of the toilet paper situation:
    the toilet paper industry is split into two, largely separate markets: commercial and consumer. The pandemic has shifted the lion’s share of demand to the latter. People actually do need to buy significantly more toilet paper during the pandemic — not because they’re making more trips to the bathroom, but because they’re making more of them at home. With some 75% of the U.S. population under stay-at-home orders, Americans are no longer using the restrooms at their workplace, in schools, at restaurants, at hotels, or in airports.

    Georgia-Pacific, a leading toilet paper manufacturer based in Atlanta, estimates that the average household will use 40% more toilet paper than usual if all of its members are staying home around the clock. That’s a huge leap in demand for a product whose supply chain is predicated on the assumption that demand is essentially constant. It’s one that won’t fully subside even when people stop hoarding or panic-buying.


  15. unclefrogy says

    my guess is the tp hoarding is just a kind of panic reaction mostly to an expected supply disruption of unknown duration. The reaction and the lock down and social distancing are doing pretty well to bringing about the shortages very efficiently. An other influence on this is the modern use of just in time inventory that was set up to a more regular demand sudden changes cause big problems.
    I have some problem I have for years the habit of shopping often always topping of supplies and renewing perishables every few days. Now My son is doing the shopping and everything has changed so I have no recent experience of shopping , I get supplies but with unexpected differences not enough flour in my mind to last some longer period of time. It all seems like a perverse feed back lop on top of everything else, because in the country we have the opposite of a shortage of any goods I know of.
    what gets me is the whining from the right wing talking heads and that f’n fat old man.
    uncle frogy

  16. davidc1 says

    A couple of people who went all out and bought as much TP and hand wash as they could have been banned from selling them on line ,one on Ebay ,the other by Amazon ,serves them right .
    And a manger/boss at an Australia supermarket has given such berks as them a good telling off .
    He might in fact be the owner ,some guy called Drake .

  17. stroppy says

    I can’t help thinking the margin of error for just-in-time supply must be razor thin to be thrown out of wack so quickly.

    In any case, trust profiteers to do what they can to make a bad situation suck worse. Trumpies no doubt.

  18. magistramarla says

    My shopping skills were honed in military commissaries over the last 38 years. My cooking skills were honed by cooking for a small army of hooligans affectionately known as my own five kids and an assortment of their friends who wandered in for free tutoring and free meals. The military gets paid twice a month – at the beginning and at the middle of the month. Since that first check was mostly used up by paying the rent (or mortgage) and utilities, etc., my big shopping trip to the commissary was in the middle of the month. I learned how to stock up enough food to feed seven people (with a few extras) for a month and only went to the local grocery store for perishables once a week.
    The kids are all out of the nest, and I’m now only cooking for two, but those old habits die hard. I still go to the commissary about once a month to do a major stock-up. I also like to stock up on non-perishables at Costco. Our daughter, who is a neuroscientist, called and warned us that things were going to get bad, so we stocked up at both the commissary and Costco a couple of weeks before the panic shopping began.
    Thus, I have a fully-stocked pantry and freezer. My husband braves the senior hours at Safeway once in a while for fresh fruit and milk. However, we’ve found that we’re both quite comfortable going to the commissary wearing our masks and gloves. It’s never crowded, very clean, reasonably well-stocked, and the Colonel in charge stalks the aisles, enforcing the mask rule and social distancing. I feel very, very lucky to have this option!

  19. Khantron, the alien that only loves says

    I stopped pooping at/stealing toilet paper from work.

  20. hemidactylus says

    Say what you will about Jordan Peterson but if we adopted his strict carnivore diet we would stop pooping altogether and not need TP. Ahead of the curve genius. Who is laughing now?

  21. jrkrideau says

    @ 12 wzrd1

    yeast packets. Apparently, none of the shoppers realize that the bottled yeast is just as good as the packets

    Shoppers in Ontario are willing to take anything labelled yeast here. I could almost swear that the run on yeast was as bad as the one on toilet paper but it is one that makes sense. BBC Radio had an interview with a yeast producer who was saying that they were on 24/7 at the moment. Both my local grocery stores have been out for at least 2 weeks, maybe three?

    I am getting a bit worried about the yeast situation especially as my attempt at sourdough died on me at Day 4; it had been doing so well. Oh well, there is still “Deep-fried soft puffed bread” and “Herculaneum Bath Bread”, or just plain biscuits.

    Flour supplies are spotty but not that bad and I picked up 10kg last week.

  22. unclefrogy says

    some of the items that normally are not big sellers like most of the stuff in the baking do not usually have to be restocked as frequently. then things like this happen and demand changes seasonal differences they can plan for and preorder everyone in the supply chain must be scrambling. Modern US supper markets have very little “backroom” space they restock them every couple of night from trucks from central distribution centers, which are also getting deliveries daily nothing sits around for long in any one place, most things are like that these days. without all those people working the trucks, trains, ships and air cargo there is no precedent for how bad it would be.
    uncle frogy

  23. Bruce H says

    Regarding the beans: try looking in the ethnic foods aisle, especially the Hispanic foods section. While the variety was a bit lacking, there were plenty of small red beans and pinto beans at the grocery store down here in the Southeast Texas suburbs. For some strange reason that I simply CANNOT figure out, the panic shoppers in my area never think to look there.

  24. pontavedra says

    I live in Japan, and it’s a very different story here. People normally wear masks here, just an everyday thing. In normal times, you’ll spot maybe 20~30% of people wearing surgical-type masks, commonly sold here in drug stores. The peak is cold & flu season. Often it is more to protect others from you rather than the other way around.

    Now, the mask wearing is up to 90~95%. I just walked the dog, and if you don’t count joggers and bicyclists (none are wearing masks), then I’d say it was about 95% tonight.

    And that may be why Japan has been doing so well. I really think that a combination of common mask-wearing, coupled with a no-handshake society makes a huge amount of difference. Maybe also the very early closing of schools helped; I teach at an American university here, and we closed the buildings back at the start of March, finishing the semester using online instruction.

    As soon as people began talking about the pandemic, before Japan had its first confirmed case, there was a run on masks. They simply could not be found, at least by me. So many people I saw seemed to be getting new ones from somewhere, I don’t know where. Lots of people on the street every day.

    These are “paper” masks, but a very sturdy, almost cloth-like paper. They can be washed. My wife and I made two or three masks each last a few months, until we finally scored a box of 50 at Costco.

    Meanwhile, businesses are not shutting down, at least not noticeably. For example, the cake shop down the street is still open, they’re hardly “essential.” Many shops are closing early; the supermarket closes at 10pm instead of midnight, and you can’t get carry-out from restaurants past 8pm. Pizza delivery is still on—they have a “no contact” system whereby they put the pizza on a box outside your door, and walk away while you pick it up. I ordered one now, and have no idea how the money exchange will work. We’ll see.

  25. pontavedra says

    Oh, and Japan had the same kind of run on toilet paper—but now it’s back in stock. Kleenex came back even faster and with greater supply. Masks and hand sanitizer are still very rare. My latest Costco mask purchase suggested that maybe the hyper-production of masks is maybe finally getting underway, but still no sure signs.

    In Japan, emergencies always clear out the instant ramen aisle at the supermarket. Canned stuff and meats tend to go next, along with pasta and curry mix. (Most people have a good supply of rice at home normally.) This happened after the big quake in 2011 & Fukushima, then when there was a bigger-than-normal typhoon coming, and now with coronavirus. However, the supermarkets are mostly stocked on everything now; a few items are missing, but you wouldn’t notice anything different from normal if you didn’t look hard.