Off the Shelves
The last phrase that you want to hear during the holiday gift season are “product shortages.” Well, either that or “Grandma bought you another sweater.” In any case, here are a few items you should start stocking up on if you can find them, along with some useful alternatives.
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It pains us to say this, but there is a waffle shortage, and it may last for quite a while. Earlier last week, Eggo announced they would be putting out fewer waffles this year, due to problems at two of their bakeries. One bakery in Atlanta was flooded due to heavy rains in October, while another bakery in Rossville, Tenn., has equipment that needs extensive repairs. The waffle shortage will last through the holidays and possibly through the first half of next year. This has caused some to enter into a bidding war for Eggos currently in circulation.
If you can’t live without the waffle, some cooks are already experimenting with recipes you can use at home to produce your own waffles that taste just like Eggos. Also, check out MainStreet’s coverage of good, cheap breakfast options, because the last thing you want is to have to spend big bucks on elaborate breakfasts for your entire extended family during the holidays.
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Nothing announces the holiday season like pumpkin products. But Nestle (Stock Quote: NSRGY), the biggest canned pumpkin manufacturer, recently reported less output due to heavy rains. Rain, it seems, has decided to ruin the holidays for everyone. For any non-cooks out there, canned pumpkins are the big ingredient for making pumpkin pie.
However, you can make pumpkin pie yourself, from real pumpkins, rather than canned pumpkins. It’s a chore, but it might end up feeling more rewarding. Find a good recipe for it here.
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Letters From Santa
Every year for more than half a century, the United States Postal Service has been delivering thousands of letters from Santa to children across the nation. Children mail letters to Santa and receive responses postmarked from the North Pole (a real small town in Alaska), that are actually written by volunteers. But this year, the Postal Service announced that it was scrapping the program because of problems with volunteers in previous years. (One recent volunteer turned out to be a registered sex offender). Some elves up north are reportedly trying to fight the post office’s decision.
However, if the program is eliminated, we suggest you intercept your kids’ letters and write your own response. Either that, or have you kid email Santa. There are plenty of web sites out there that can help you do this. You might also consider using this as an opportunity to tell your children Santa isn’t real. eHow.com has some reasonable advice for how to do it, though we think that maybe some extra tooth fairy money will ease the blow.
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Ever since Obama was elected president, paranoid gun owners have been stockpiling ammunition, fearful that he might somehow limit their 2nd amendment rights. Though that fear seems unfounded (so far), this has created a noticeable shortage of ammunition, forcing many bullet makers to struggle to meet the rising demand.
This is one shortage that might actually be a good thing, since many Americans unfortunately attempt suicide during the holidays. On the other hand, if your family drives you crazy enough to want to shoot them, maybe you should try some of these more wholesome activities to get your relatives out of your hair.
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USA Today reports that poultry producers cut production this year for the first time since 1973. “U.S. Agriculture Department, in its monthly production report released on Tuesday, forecast broiler production to be down about 3.5% this year.” This has forced some bars and restaurants to consider alternative options to chicken wings, including the “boneless wing,” which is made from other parts of the chicken instead.
However, we have another recommendation. Just read this piece on where chickens come from and you won’t feel hungry for poultry for the rest of the holidays.
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Swine Flu Shots
The New York Times recently reported that there is a shortage of swine flu vaccines available. Not that you wanted to give your loved ones a shot for their Christmas present this year, but if you get sick, it will certainly put a damper on the holidays.
We suggest using Google maps swine flu tracker to help find locations that do carry the vaccine. If you can’t get one, then try your best to stay clean and germ free. Although, this may be a little trickier than it seems, due to the next shortage on the list.
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Unfortunately, because so many are worried about getting the flu this year, there has been a shortage of hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer isn’t the only casualty of swine flu mania 2009, however. Similar shortages of respirators and Tamiflu medicine have also been reported.
You can either rely heavily on generic medicines in stores that do the same stuff, or you can hide out in a cave somewhere this winter. The choice is yours.
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Luxury stores across the country are cutting their inventories, worried that customers will not buy their products this holiday season. Saks Fifth Avenue’s (Stock Quote: SKS) inventory, for example, is down by more than 10% this year compared to last year. Other upscale stores like Neiman Marcus are reporting similar drops.
While we question this strategy, it may be for the best, given that there are plenty of less fancy things for you to blow your money on this holiday season. However, if you are eager to buy upscale brands as gifts for someone, why not try an outlet store that sells them for less?
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Kids just can’t get a break this holiday season. No more Eggos, no more letters from Santa, and now there are no more toys? Well,that may be a bit of an overstatement. However, according to MSN, experts are predicting shortages on 100 of the top toys this holiday season. Items like the new Barbie Fashionista and Mattel’s (Stock Quote: MAT) new Mindflex gadget may be hard to come by this year. Even the popular Zhu Zhu pet that is all the rage will be scarce.
If all else fails, save some money and stress, and just give your kids some old, cheap retro toys. Check out our shopping list here.
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Digital Book Readers
This will likely make some adults cry. Barnes and Noble (Stock Quote: BKS) recently announced that its book reader, the Nook, has sold out. Customers won't be able to purchase one until the new year. On top of this, Sony (Stock Quote: SNE) recently reported that customers may experience delays and possible shortages on their popular e-reader, according to CNBC. With all that in mind, maybe now is the time to go analog and buy some actual books over the holidays. Crazy? Maybe, but these are desparate times.
Photo Credit: Christian Steen
Can you imagine a world without honey? We choose not to. Nevertheless, a honey shortage has been developing during the past couple years across the world. The culprit? A combination of winter losses in the bee population and heavy rain (always the rain!) affecting pollen levels. It’s not yet a global epidemic, but there have already been reports of a bee crime wave (thieves steal bees from bee keepers in order to make some extra money from profitable honey). And many cities in the southern U.S. have reported having a limited honey supply, which has caused a spike in prices.
Unfortunately, there is no solution for this shortage, and we worry that if it gets worse, grandmas and cold sufferers across the world will revolt, leading to a complete breakdown of all societies by 2012. That's how it's going to happen. It won't be tectonics. It will be honey.
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