You Bought What During Quarantine?!

The unusual purchases made during quarantine may not be that unusual after all


Alexis Franczyk, Staff Writer

As I was sitting in the passenger seat of my mom’s car, mask in hand, preparing myself for another dreaded trip to Giant Eagle, my stream of thought was interrupted by a particularly odd radio interview. The overly excited radio show host was having people call in with their weirdest quarantine purchases, most of which were as expected, five bags of toilet paper in one trip, enough dog food to last for three months, and cases of canned beans.

But the one purchase that caught my attention was a puzzle.

The purchase of a puzzle during quarantine is not such a bizarre thought, as many people are trying to cure their boredom and keep busy, but this was not an everyday puzzle purchase. Most people buy puzzles that have a nice sunset or a cute puppy on it, but this puzzle was completely black. A square puzzle made up of 1000 black pieces. The lady who called in with this answer noted that it took her grandmother two hours to complete the border and another two hours working on the interior of the puzzle until she gave up.

This insane purchase led me to wonder about all the other crazy products people may have bought during quarantine. There are purchases that may seem crazy in a non-quarantine life, but make perfect sense in quarantine life, such as stocking up on three months worth of dog food. But then, there are some purchases that are still insane in a quarantine life, such as an all-black puzzle that is impossible to complete.

It is expected that toilet paper purchases, along with hand sanitizer and frozen food purchases, have been skyrocketing during quarantine. Even though the quantity of these products purchased may not be rational, the need to buy these products makes perfect sense. Even the spike in alcoholic beverage purchases makes sense. There are certain things that people are just not willing to live without. But along with these purchases that relatively make sense, there are some products flying off the shelf at a higher rate than normal that don’t exactly fall into the category of “can’t live without it”.

One of these unusually sought after products is Hershey’s chocolate chip morsels. Michele Buck, CEO of Hershey Co, reported that sales of Hershey’s Syrup, chocolate chips, and cocoa powder jumped by 30% during the COVID pandemic. After some thought, this makes sense, as many families have turned to baking at home as a fun family activity to cure boredom. Although there is sturdy logic behind the spike in chocolate chip purchases during quarantine, I never would have thought that chocolate chips would be one of the more scarce products to come across during a national pandemic.

Another purchase that is awe-worthy, even in quarantine, is that of baby chicks. While most people prefer to buy cartons of eggs from their local grocery store, some consumers have taken their concern for eggs much further by purchasing chicks in hopes of securing a constant source of eggs. As a result, hatcheries across the country have seen a huge surge in live chick orders during this pandemic. I guess that’s one of the more extreme ways of combating the rising price of eggs and the sold-out shelves in grocery store egg coolers.

Along with chocolate chips and live chicks, many other quarantine purchases promote a “do it yourself” lifestyle, such as seeds, bread makers, and at-home gym equipment. The current shortage of seed supply is due to people building their own at-home vegetable gardens, because once again consumers want to ensure a constant source of a product that may otherwise be sold out in grocery stores. The surge in bread maker purchases and all ingredients that go into bread is a result of people experimenting with bread making during quarantine. Making bread is a great way to cure boredom and to ensure that consumers will always have fresh bread, even when the grocery store is sold out. Due to this rise in bread making popularity both professional and non-professional bakers are experiencing difficulties finding yeast and flour. And the rise in at-home gym equipment is pretty self-explanatory: gyms are closed, so people need to buy their own equipment for their house.

I think it is safe to say that living through a pandemic encourages people to think outside the box and make some unusual purchases. But at the end of the day, we are all just trying to get through this pandemic as best we can. So maybe the idea of purchasing live chicks or taking up a new hobby in bread-making may not be as crazy or unusual as we once may have thought.