Sunday, April 06, 2008

The case of the missing Grape-Nuts


I've been jonesing for a Grape-Nuts fix for almost two years now.

I was deprived of my favourite cereal when I was living in Japan (the closest thing to Western-style cereal in my local grocery store was a cardboard-like Corn Flakes knockoff and a vomit-inducing Bran Flakes impostor).

I couldn't wait to dig into a bowl of Grape-Nuts when I returned to Canada. But since I've been back, I can't find them anywhere. Grape-Nuts have mysteriously disappeared from the shelves.

At first I thought that maybe they were just sold out (a logical conclusion because who doesn't love Grape-Nuts?).

And so I waited (and waited and waited) for Safeway to restock the cereal aisle. A month went by. Two months went by. Six months later and still no sign of the crunchy little nuggets.

Something didn't add up. I decided to go deep undercover to crack the case of the missing Grape-Nuts.

The first weapon in every modern detective's arsenal is Google. So I Googled everything I could think of: "Grape-Nuts discontinued," "Grape-nuts grain shortage," "Grape-Nuts fan club," "Grape-Nuts factory infested by mice," "Grape-Nuts Safeway where are they?"

Every link led to a dead end.

Having gotten nowhere on the internet, I decided to take my sleuthing to the scene of the crime. Disguising myself as a shopper, I roamed the aisles of Safeway looking for an appropriate employee to interrogate.

I didn't want to waste my time questioning the teenage stock boys. They were too green to know what was going on. The girls behind the cash probably had the inside scoop but were too rushed to talk about it. I needed someone older. Someone experienced. Someone who'd been around Safeway for a while and knew what was really going on.

I found my informer in the frozen food aisle. He was older and working alone. Judging by his vest, white button-down shirt and nicely pressed slacks, he may have even been a manager.

Now, I'd been casing the joint for the past six months and knew full well that there were no Grape-Nuts to be found. So I had to draw on my Grade 9 drama skills in order to play the part of an innocent customer.

"Excuse me," I said. "Can you tell me where the Grape-Nuts are?"

"We don’t have any," he said.

I asked him if he knew when the next shipment was coming in.

Probably never, was his cryptic reply.

Jackpot! My suspicions were confirmed. I knew I there was more to this case than a simple supply and demand story. (I credit my finely tuned detective skills to a childhood spend reading Nancy Drew mysteries.)

I asked him why I would never be able to buy Grape-Nuts again. He gave me a long, complicated answer about nasty politics and bad blood between Safeway and Kraft.

He explained that big companies like Kraft look at shelf space as prime real estate for advertising. If Grape-Nuts aren't flying out of the store, then Kraft doesn't want to pay the shelf fees for a product that's not bringing in a lot of money. So Safeway decided to pull Grape-Nuts from the store because they were taking up valuable shelf space. Or something like that. (He was speaking really quickly and I wasn't taking notes. I had no idea there was so much drama in the food industry.)

So that part of the mystery is solved. Only one question remains: how am I going to get my Grape-Nuts fix now?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Four years later and I too am searching for Grape Nuts in Ontario. I live in a small town so put it to meat & potatoes for dinner and sugar for breakfast crowd up this way. But no, I have my urban sophisticated friends looking and nothing!

I WANT MY GRAPE NUTS!!!!!

Sarah M. said...

I haven't been back to Canada in three years and I'm sad to hear there are still no Grape Nuts! What am I going to eat for breakfast when I come back for a visit next month?!?

Sarah

Anonymous said...

There are two reasons that Grape Nuts is not available in Canada. I saw Grape Nuts at one of the super markets in Montreal and discovered that the carton indicated the ingredients in English only. This is illegal throughout Canada since all foods must be labeled in both official languages, English and French. The second reason is that Grape Nuts is a misnomer since the only ingredients are wheat and barley. It does not taste like grapes and most cereals have a nutty taste. All other Post cereals are labeled in both languages so why not this one?

There must be another reason for it not being available in Canada.

doormatcha

Sarah M. said...

It used to be available in English Canada but then it disappeared. I still don't know why. I think you can find it in certain stores but the grocery store near where I was living in Vancouver just stopped carrying it one day. I'm in Germany now and they don't have Grape Nuts here either.

Sarah

Anonymous said...

The next time you visit Vancouver, please visit Safeway! (or at least, the Burnaby Safeway at Lougheed Mall, where I've just picked up a box this afternoon).

The powers that be have blessed us with Grape-Nuts - English on one side, French on the other.

Sarah M. said...

Still not a single Grape Nut to be found in Germany. Hope to find some in Toronto when I go back for a visit next month!!

Anonymous said...

Lobaws chains in southern ontario will soon be stocking them again!