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Marshmallow shortage hits Winnipeg amid latest coronavirus buying spree

Winnipeggers appear to be buying marshmallows as quickly as retailers can restock them. Elisha Dacey/Global News

If you’re looking for marshmallows in Winnipeg, get in line.

With most Winnipeggers abiding by public health orders and stuck at home for the holidays, it appears many of us have come up with the same idea to pass the time — baking — and that’s left marshmallows in short supply.

“As they’re coming in, they’re running out the door faster than we put them on the shelf,” said Munther Zeid, who runs the Food Fare at 2285 Portage Ave. of the fluffy confectionary popular for plopping into hot chocolate and a vital for peanut butter marshmallow squares.

Read more: Time to stock up again? The likelihood of empty shelves in a second coronavirus wave

“Everybody’s trying to make treats for their kids and stuff like that.”

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Zeid said his store got a shipment of marshmallows Tuesday and he was down to just a few bags of mini, and large white marshmallows by Wednesday afternoon.

Click to play video: 'Unstocked shelves' Unstocked shelves
Unstocked shelves – Aug 31, 2020

He laughed when asked if he had any of the mini, multi-coloured variety left.

And it’s not just his store, he says. All five city Food Fares haven’t been able to keep marshmallows stocked since early November, and neither can his competitors.

“It’s not just us, it’s Sobeys, it’s Safeway, it’s Walmart — everybody’s having an issue with supply,” he said.

Read more: Manitoba retail shortages continue as coronavirus pandemic rages on

“We have some right now, but I’d say by end of day today they’ll be gone. I’m amazed they’re not gone yet. Up until yesterday we were telling people we don’t have any.”

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The marshmallow shortages follow a year that’s seen toilet paper dry up, disinfectant disappear, and baking supplies like baking yeast vanish from store shelves as initial panic-buying made way for something more akin to boredom-busting buying as pandemic wears on.

Zeid says it’s been difficult to predict and prepare for what the next must-have item is going to be.

Munther Zeid, the owner of the ‘Food Fare’ grocery store chain in Winnipeg. Michael Draven / Global News

A quick look through Kijiji Wednesday afternoon found at least one Winnipegger who appears to have seen this coming.

The seller was offering bags of white mini marshmallows for $8, bags of coloured ones for $10 a bag and packages of butterscotch chips for $20.

Read more: Appliance biz struggling to meet pandemic demand, says Winnipeg retailer

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Zeid says just like the customers looking for marshmallows in stores, it’s essentially first-come-first-get for store owners looking to stock up on must-have items too.

“I’ll order 25 cases of them and I might get five, it all depends,” he said of marshmallows in particular, but adds pudding mixes are becoming just as scarce.

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Zeid advises anyone on the search for marshmallows to call the store before venturing in — in fact, he’s even started taking marshmallow reservations.

“I’m looking at six bags in my office right now and each one has a name on it,” he said.

Read more: First toilet paper, now Christmas trees? Coronavirus sparks potential new shortages

“People are saying they want to make sure, they’re saying they don’t want to come down for nothing, so we put one aside for them.

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“I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

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