The Pandemic Has Us Buying Some Weird Sh*t

by Kimberly Zapata
Originally Published: 
Scary Mommy and Amazon

It’s been a difficult, long, crazy, and completely unprecedented year. From the coronavirus crisis and “Tiger King “to the Pentagon’s admission that yes, UFOs may be real, the last 365 days have (seemingly) made no sense. Truly. I cannot tell up from down. I do not know my left from my right. But one of the craziest things in 2020 – and the first three months of 2021 — may be our online purchase history. Collectively we have made some dubious choices. Why? Because when life shut down, we went shopping, and we were buying more than hand sanitizer, toilet paper, paper towels, and soap. In fact, an informal Facebook survey by the Scary Mommy team revealed our shopping habits were all over the map.

Here are our favorite quarantine purchases of the last year.

1. “Lettuce Grow”

Self-watering, self-fertilizing, and (in many ways) self-sufficient, the Lettuce Grow hydroponic farmstand helped some of our followers prepare for the impending apocalypse. “This was my attempt to become autonomous, self-reliant, and go ‘off-the-grid,’” Nicole tells Scary Mommy.

2. A wearable, heating pad vest

Are you cold? Sore? Cold and sore? Get yourself a portable and wearable heating pad. With auto-shutoff and numerous heat settings, this bad boy will let you walk from your bedroom to kitchen without any cords, clasps, or nasty inconveniences.

3. A dog

While a dog isn’t (necessarily) a quirky purchase, it was a common one. Several individuals adopted pets during the coronavirus crisis — and we get it. With separation and social isolation, we all need a little bit of love.

4. A harmonica

Are you looking for a new hobby — one which will drive your (already stressed out) significant other up the wall? Grab a harmonica. With no instruction, no oversight, and no inherent harmonica-based skills, how could this possibly go wrong? See also: It went wrong. Very wrong.

5. A trampoline

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When schools and parks closed, parents panicked. I mean, how the hell were we (and are we) supposed to keep our kiddos entertained? Enter the trampoline. Yes, many parents purchased these massive circles of fun, frivolity, and (yikes!) possible injury.

6. Massive quantities of peanut butter

Many people “pandemic purchased” food. It was and is the reason some grocery store shelves remain bare. But Meredith told Scary Mommy her father overindulged in one particular grocery store staple. “My father ordered 24 6-ounce jars of peanut butter on Amazon. He didn’t realize how much he ordered. He misread the ad, but needless to say all of us kids received peanut butter for Christmas.”

7. A 6-foot tall rainbow Christmas tree

While this may not seem strange — at least not in theory, and given the fact the holidays fell mid-quarantine — what arrived was very underwhelming. According to Brittany, when the product she ordered showed up, it was 18” and colorless. So much for festive and fun.

8. Medical marijuana

Most of our favorite quarantine purchases came from Amazon or other online retailers, but others were the result of in-person transactions. “I spent money on a doctor so I could get a medical weed card,” Sara tells Scary Mommy. “Quarantine anxiety and intense stress from NO TIME ALONE EVER were no fun before that.” Same, Sara. Same.

9. Bubble gum in bulk

In times of uncertainty, it’s always comforting to fall back on a little nostalgia. After an evening of reminiscing about their favorite childhood candies (and maybe a few glasses of wine), Rita’s husband got a little Amazon-happy and purchased some Bazooka bubble gum. Four huge tubs of it.

10. A goose lamp

And finally, while we don’t think this was a common purchase, it was definitely the quirkiest purchase, at least among those we surveyed. Truly. This giant-ass goose lamp is superb, in the strangest way. Goose’s not your thing? Don’t worry: This retailer also sells duck lamps, mouse lamps, bear lamps, and mushroom lamps.

Of course, there were practical purchases too. Some individuals we surveyed purchased paint and power tools, for DIY projects and home renovations. Others invested (heavily) in gardening supplies and lawn equipment. David told me he has (more or less) became a “one man landscaping business,” and puzzles and games were popular choices. Technology also saw a big boom. From iPads and tablets to cameras and noise cancelling headphones, our culture became more digitized and computerized in a matter of weeks.

A 2020 study conducted by Ibotta, a cash-back app which helps people save money with their everyday purchases, also found food sales were way up. Spirits sales increased 33%. The consumption of bakery items increased 17%, and both wine and frozen food sales were up 12% from the previous year.

What was your craziest quarantine purchase?

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