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?