A COVID-19-related shortage has Grape-Nuts faithful missing that familiar crunch of their favorite breakfast cereal.
For months, consumers have been searching for boxes of the more than 120-year-old cereal brand only to find empty shelves and out-of-stock notices. Some fans have turned to social media and Reddit to commiserate over their struggle to find the high-fiber cereal and question whether it was being discontinued.
The brand, which is owned by Post Holdings, confirmed the shortage to USA TODAY on Wednesday but said there were "absolutely no plans to discontinue Grape-Nuts cereal."
"People may continue to see shortages and temporary out-of-stocks on Grape-Nuts as we continue to work through supply constraints and higher cereal demand amid the pandemic," Kristin DeRock, Grape-Nuts brand manager, said in a statement to USA TODAY.
McDonald's Spicy McNuggets:McDonald's bringing back hot nuggets, Mighty Hot Sauce for a limited time starting Feb. 1
DeRock said the cereal is made using a "proprietary technology and a production process that isn’t easily replicated, which has made it more difficult to shift production to meet demand during this time."
The brand started experiencing shortages in late 2020 and its Grape-Nuts Flakes cereal was also affected. The flakes should be returning to stores now and the original cereal is expected to be "fully back on store shelves" this spring, DeRock said.
In September, the company spoke of a shortage of the flakes on a Facebook comment and said it was "due to adjustments in our production schedules to ensure the items in highest demand are available."
Consumers USA TODAY spoke to said they can find the flakes but want the original Grape-Nuts, which the company explains in its history doesn't contain grapes or nuts but is made from wheat and barley.
Ana Sandoval, of Sacramento, California, started to wonder if the cereal was being phased out after searching for a box since December. She said she has been eating the cereal nearly every day for the last six years to help with her Mediterranean anemia.
“By eating Grape-Nuts, I can get most of my daily iron allotment without the nasty side effects of iron pills,” Sandoval told USA TODAY. “Unlike many people who consider Grape-Nuts to be another form of gravel, I like the crunch and the taste.”
Laurel Zito eats the cereal herself on occasion but she mainly buys to feed a flock of doves near her Ukiah, California home. She said she finally was able to buy the cereal after searching for six months.
“The doves do eat birdseed so it's okay with them but they really like these Grape-Nuts a lot and if I don't give it to them they actually sit outside my patio and look at me really sad,” Zito said.
A box of Grape-Nuts for $110?
Eating Grape-Nuts on top of yogurt has become a routine for Josh Baron, of Boca Raton, Florida, and he was shocked when he couldn’t find any in local stores in December.
“How are you out of Grape-Nuts? It’s like being out of flour or butter,” Baron said. He started posting about his search on Facebook using #savegrapenuts and his friends joined in, too, with friends in New York buying him eight boxes from a Brooklyn grocery store.
Baron recently scored five boxes himself after striking out on multiple trips and then took a selfie with the cashier to document the triumph.
But Baron, who works in ticketing and co-wrote a book on scalping, has noticed the cereal selling for much more than the regular price online. At Target, the cereal is listed as sold out for shipping with a price of $3.99 but could be available at some stores for pickup.
On Walmart.com, a third-party seller listed a 4-pound box for $110 and there also are Amazon and eBay listings with hiked up prices.
“This is very much like there’s secondary ticketing of supply and demand so like scalpers,” Baron said. “Grape-Nuts are now going for these exorbitant prices.”
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko