As I stood in the cracker aisle in Fry’s the other night, I was about to lose my shit. All I wanted was some crackers — a box of Private Selection brand Rosemary Entertainment Crackers to be specific. But what I was staring at was a gaping hole where the Rosemary crackers should be. WTF? Sesame, Toasted Sesame, Peppercorn Poppy, Classic, Wheat with Roasted Wheat Germ — they were all fully stocked in deep rows — but the Rosemary crackers were conspicuously absent. Again. Now, they’ve sold out occasionally over the years, but always with a polite “We’re sorry for the inconvenience” sticker reassuring the shopper the product would be restocked shortly. But this was the second week in a row and no sticker. And ominously, the tag on the shelf, the one with the product name and price, was missing.
I’m a simple man
I don’t ask for much when it comes to food. I’m not picky, but I am very much a creature of dietary habit. Unless someone else is supplying the grub, I eat the same basic or ready-to-eat or simple to prepare foods over and over — like Rosemary Entertainment Crackers, (I love them with Kelly’s Irish butter and Sargento’s cheddar cheese and a sliced Granny Smith apple on the side with a Coke Zero to wash it down). And I always buy the same brands. I’ll hoard boxes of stuff I like, even if I don’t need it. Seriously, at one time, I had six boxes of Rosemary crackers in my cupboard, much to the Houseguest’s annoyance. I’m like the human version of the koala bear — it only needs an endless supply of eucalyptus leaves, and it’s content.
Now, I’m not quite as selective with my food choices as the picky koala, but give me a few of the things that are regularly on my shopping list, and I’m happier than a koala bear with — well, a shitload of eucalyptus leaves. When I find a brand I like, I stick with it. Occasionally, I’ll get bored of something and retire it from the regular rotation for a bit — however, some things I never seem to tire of (Rosemary Entertainment Crackers, obviously). I buy the same frozen pizza (Freschetta – either four cheese or pepperoni) week after week. I eat the same breakfast most mornings – either oatmeal or my favorite, which is Fage 5% fat Greek yogurt (never the 0% or 2%) drizzled with honey, sprinkled with some Cascade Farms French Vanilla cereal, and topped with fresh blueberries. If they’re out of Fage, I don’t buy another brand, I wait till next week.
Call me simple (or lazy — I won’t contest the charge). I am what I am.
Identifying the culprit
Now, Sean, you’re probably thinking, calm down. Rosemary crackers are probably pretty popular, and Fry’s just ran out. It’s not personal. That’s what the Houseguest said. Well, I used to think like that too. At first, I assumed that the guy ordering for the store is just incompetent and doesn’t understand the finer points of supply and demand. Week after week, he simply orders enough boxes of Rosemary crackers to replenish the depleted stock. It never crosses his mind to increase his order of Rosemary crackers while cutting back on the shittier, poorly-selling ones like Wheat with Roasted Wheat Germ. Obviously, the thoughtless bastard doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Rosemary cracker shortages and potential fist fights in the cracker aisle. My biggest fear has been that he’s just a creature of chaos who orders products like Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies Baked Snack Crackers on a whim, exchanging it for some popular item to experiment and see how it sells. Fucking sadist.
Maybe the Houseguest is right, and it is only a coincidence. Or perhaps someone — God, the Universe, the ordering guy — is messing with me out of boredom. I know this sounds paranoid, but it didn’t end with with the Rosemary crackers. I continued on with my shopping and went to where the biscotti are to get my favorite Caramel and Sea Salt Biscotti, and this is what I found:
Another gaping hole with missing product. Ciccolati, sí. Dark Chocolate Almond, sí. Limone, sí. Carmel and Sea Salt? No signore, mi spiace. At least this one had the blue “Sorry for the Inconvenience” bullshit sticker. Nonplussed and annoyed, I then went to find the Keebler Town House Focaccia Tuscan Cheese Crackers, which are addictively delicious only to find:
Gone! Not only that — tag removed! And when I looked online, as I typed this up, to verify I had the name right, I can no longer find them listed as a product on the Keebler Town House cracker website! It’s like they’re trying to scrub all evidence of Focaccia Tuscan Cheese crackers from existence. What are the odds that so many of my regular items sold our or were all pulled at the same time? Is the Illuminati moving against me? Is that it?
Land Manatee or terrorist ninja?
To add a weird coda to my shopping trip from hell, when I used the self-check-out station, security flagged me remotely and sent an attendant over to verify I’d rung up the last few items. It was kind of eerie watching the checkout screen suddenly switch to video mode to show a replay of me from above, bagging my groceries. Of course, everything was in order. And I have no idea what caused them to single me out…
At the end of the day, I have no answers to what’s behind this brand harassment. Maybe this goes beyond Fry’s and Keebler Town House, but I don’t know if I’m prepared to go down that rabbit hole. If the QAnon Qcumbers want a ‘real’ — albeit highly localized — conspiracy to investigate, then they can obsess over this to their hearts’ content. And maybe find answers.
Of course, the Houseguest was dismissive of my theory and wanted to know why I didn’t have a store employee verify that the items were discontinued before I start blogging wild accusations. And then she immediately launched into a tirade about Trader Joe’s constantly discontinuing her favorites things, so I’m ignoring her.
Where will this madness end?
*For those of you wondering — no, Fry’s doesn’t sell another brand of Rosemary crackers to get me through these trying times. And I’m down to my last box-and-a-half.
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