Object of the Week

If Nobody Loves Grape-Nuts, Why Is It Sold Out Everywhere?

How a shortage of the most boring cereal turned it into a pandemic sensation

Rob Walker
Published in
4 min readFeb 18, 2021

--

A Grape-Nuts cereal box photoshopped onto a purple background with the text “Object of the Week” and a square frame surrounding the cereal box.

Object of the Week is a column exploring the objects a culture obsesses over and what that reveals about us.

Of all the shortages the country has endured in the pandemic era, surely the scarcity of Grape-Nuts is among the least important. No lives are at stake; it is not even a particularly popular cereal. In fact, it’s probably more familiar as a punchline than as a part of your complete, nutritious breakfast. But Grape-Nuts fans are passionate and evidently punch well above their market share because their suffering as supplies of the cereal started to run short over the past couple of months was covered by the New York Times, USA Today, CBS, and many others.

The good news (for fans of the cereal) is the word this week that the crisis is ending. Grape-Nuts maker Post Consumer Brands has announced that the product will be back in stock next month. And perhaps the even better news (for Post) is that this shortage and the attention it attracted surely add up to the cereal’s most significant cultural star turn in at least a generation. It’s another curious chapter in the history of a curious product.

--

--