If you like Hamburger Helper, now is your time.
A sampling of three grocery stores in Toronto showed that plenty of food has disappeared from shelves as people stock up amid fears they may be stuck at home and unable to shop during the coronavirus crisis. Just as notable as the sold-out items were the well-stocked products not even the most panicked person will buy.
Pasta is gone. Rice is gone. All the toilet paper is gone, and people are left with paper towel as their next best choice.
The good news is that if you’re the type of person who likes to wash down your sense of despair with a crisp martini, no one seems to be buying olives. Or pickles, although that might not help martini drinkers. But then, like the toilet paper buyers, we’ll probably all be looking for alternatives soon enough.
The other good news is that grocery stores are expected to replenish their shelves as there’s no immediate concern about the supply chain.
Meantime, it’s not just olives and pickles that are still in plenty of supply.
The Jolly Green Giant is a fairly lonely figure on the canned food aisles. No matter how desperate people may be, no one is apparently desperate enough to open a can of cream style of corn. If you’re a fan of KAM, whatever that is, the world is your oyster. It’s actually a canned lunch meat, and it’s all yours.
While many staples that can be kept for long periods – rice, pasta and so on – are gone, there was every variety of salad dressing and an abundance of fresh fruit at the three grocery stores I visited. We are all concerned about the novel coronavirus; none of us seem to be all that worried about scurvy.
Also apparently not top of mind: giving Hamburger Helper a try. You might think that with all the pasta gone, people would be willing to give it a shot, since, well, it is sort of pasta. But boxes and boxes of it in every type – Italian Herbs, Stroganoff, Cheddar Cheese Melt – are just waiting for anyone to look at that little white-gloved smiling face logo and wave back.
Maybe it’s because we’re all suddenly health conscious. The potato chips aisles are so untouched that you could build a Doritos fort to self-isolate in, with a soda pop moat deep and wide surrounding it.
Then again, we can’t be that health conscious all of a sudden. For proof, make your way to the health foods aisle at your local grocery store. If you’re not a frequent visitor to that particular neck of the woods, it will likely confirm some long-standing suspicions.
For one, my kids were right: No one actually likes organic peanut butter or alternatives such as almond butter and coconut and peanut spread. Jars of them are everywhere. Also in full abundance in the health food aisle? Rice puffs.
I respect everyone who treats their body as a temple, but I think we can all agree that stuck at home trying to find not only nourishment but also some small opportunity to escape a more and more crushing sense of anxiety, absolutely no one wants to crack open a bag of rice puffs.
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