21 Things We Stopped Taking for Granted During the Pandemic

toilet paper

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toilet paper
Dmytro Varavin/istockphoto

You Bought What?

If you'd asked us before the pandemic what we would buy for a disaster, our list would probably look like this: bottled water, flashlights, canned goods, a first-aid kit, maybe even an emergency radio. Turns out 2020 had a very different kind of disaster in store, with a very different kind of shopping list. If you've bought puzzles, a kiddie pool, yeast, or way too much toilet paper in the last year or so, you're not alone. Here some of the things we just couldn't get enough of in the age of COVID-19. 

Related: Ways the Pandemic Has Changed Our Lives

Grape-nuts Sponsored An Antarctic Expedition


Americans want their fiber, especially during a pandemic. Post's iconic, high-fiber Grape-Nuts cereal has gone missing from store shelves thanks to increased demand and supply issues, which the company attributes to production quirks that have been hard to scale during COVID-19. If you're a Grape-Nuts fan, there's a light at the end of the tunnel: Post says the cereal should be readily available by the end of spring. 

Related: Things You Didn't Know About Your Favorite Childhood Cereals 

Toilet Paper

Toilet Paper

Oh, toilet paper. What we used to think of as the most humble of household supplies suddenly became everyone's favorite thing to hoard during quarantine. Partially driving the behavior: The lack of a true substitute, and the fact that buyers didn't know when or if the supply chain would be able to catch up. 

Related: Things You Never Knew About Toilet Paper

Puzzle Pieces
Larisa Sviridova/istockphoto

Jigsaw Puzzles

In an age of high-tech amusements, many of us have looked down on jigsaw puzzles as old-fashioned, slow-paced, and maybe even a little bit boring. At least, that's what we used to think before puzzle mania gripped the nation last spring. Suddenly, the sustained concentration needed to join 1,000 or more tiny pieces was a welcome relief from dire news headlines, and a way to fill the many hours we were suddenly spending at home.

Related: Gifts for People Who Love Jigsaw Puzzles

Best Sewing Machines

Sewing Machines

Pre-pandemic, sewing was one of those things your grandma did. Now, it's one of those things that everyone does, and sewing machines suddenly disappeared from shelves for a while. Not only were home tailors suddenly churning out cloth masks, they were immersing themselves in a hobby that was useful and therapeutic in the midst of so much chaos.

Related: The Best Sewing Machines

Get Fit with a Challenge

Hand Weights

Gyms felt the burn big time when the pandemic forced them to shut their doors, and some big-name chains like Gold's Gym and 24 Hour Fitness were even forced into bankruptcy. With no more dedicated place to sweat away from home, that meant home exercise equipment including hand weights became a very hot commodity. Even now, many options at major retailers like Amazon and Target are back-ordered or out of stock.

Related: This Cheap Workout Gear Can Help You Stay in Shape at Home

using Disinfecting Wipes in the car

Antibacterial Wipes

Our kingdom for a canister of Clorox wipes. As most people know, name-brand antibacterial wipes have been a rare sight to behold on store shelves, though no-name brands eventually started to fill in the gaps. Demand was up a mind-boggling 500% because of the pandemic, and supply-chain issues meant the big names are only now finally starting to catch up with demand. 

Related: Disinfecting Wipes Will Destroy These Products



Hunger and boredom collided during pandemic lockdowns, prompting legions of folks to suddenly start baking their own bread. That meant yeast, once a lowly staple of the baking aisle, suddenly became a hot commodity. Yeast sales zoomed up more than 400% as home kitchens churned out everything from sourdough to homemade pizza. Unsurprisingly, the sales of bread makers soared, too, up as much as sixfold, according to Bloomberg.

Related: Top Bread Makers and Other Bread-Making Supplies for Baking at Home

Seeds, Plants, & Supplies Online


Turns out there's nothing like a global pandemic to send people scrambling back to their roots — literally. The '30s saw the rise of Depression gardens, and plenty of people started the pandemic equivalent in their backyards this spring. That meant seeds were suddenly nowhere to be found, with one of the most well-known seed companies, Burpee, actually refusing new orders for a while last spring because it was so overwhelmed by demand. No yard? No problem: Makers of hydroponic gardens like Aerogarden have also seen a big increase in sales.

Related: The Best Gifts for Plant Lovers and Green Thumbs

HP 11.6" Chromebook


These low-cost laptops have traditionally occupied an awkward middle ground. Most lack the "oomph" needed for extensive work use, and many casual users instead gravitate toward tablets for entertainment and gaming. But as the pandemic has shown, they've found a major niche in education. Parents and school districts were left scrambling for every last device as learning moved online, and supply-chain disruptions in China slowed production.

Related: Top-Rated Products on Amazon for Working From Home and Remote Learning

row of roller skates

Roller Skates

If you haven't given roller skating much of a thought in a couple decades, join the club. But that didn't slow the roll of new skaters who were eager to embrace a throwback hobby and get some fresh air in 2020. Skate makers saw sales take off, with the trend partially fueled by influencers on TikTok. In case you're wondering, the resurgence also led to the return of everyone's favorite related '90s fad, rollerblading, so go rescue that dusty pair of in-line skates in the basement and relish your newfound hipness. 

Related: Where to Find Roller Skates For Cheap Summer Fun

man working from home wearing sweats


Ah, sweatpants. In days of yore, they were looked down upon as slovenly, or to quote Karl Lagerfeld, "a sign of defeat." But during the pandemic, elastic waistbands of all kinds have had the last laugh. Freed from the confines of office buildings and formal gatherings, no one is dressing up anymore. Apparel sales plummeted nearly 80% last spring, but sales of sweatpants surged by the same amount. Meanwhile, retailers like Brooks Brothers, Men's Wearhouse, and department stores of all stripes continue to flounder.

Related: Pajamas, Sweats, and Leisure Wear Perfect for Working From Home

Hair Dye

Hair Dye

If you weren't content to let your hair go au naturale this year, chances are high that you turned to an at-home solution, especially if salons shuttered in your area. That meant a very good year for brands like Clairol, Garnier, and L'Oreal as shoppers cleared drug-store shelves of home hair dye. Even non-traditional shades like bright pink found more traction as buyers had more freedom to experiment with their look outside the traditional workplace.

Related: The Best Hair Color At-Home Kits, According to Stylists

RV For Sale


In a pandemic where it's suddenly crucial to keep your distance from others, it's no wonder folks have found a new appreciation for RVs and life on the road. Some parents even embraced "road schooling" by bringing their kids and learning on the way. RV dealers reported surges in sales throughout spring and summer 2020, and RV rental agencies also saw a big increase in demand. 

Related: Tips for RVers Riding Out the Coronavirus Pandemic

Frozen Food

Frozen Food

We all know the virtues of fresh produce and lean meat, but it turns out frozen food is what we really want when we feel like the world is ending. Specifically, frozen comfort foods have become particularly popular, with grocery analysts seeing everything from pizza to breakfast burritos to ice cream flying out of freezer cases as fast as they could be stocked. Unsurprisingly, also flying out of stores: Stand-alone freezers, since no one wants to be told there's no more room for another casserole or pint of Ben & Jerry's.

Related: Costco's Best Buys for Packing Your Freezer

Young Boy Helps a Fallen Woman


Cyclists have long complained of being treated as second-class citizens in the car-happy U.S., but lots more of us joined their ranks during the pandemic. We snapped up new bikes at an unheard of clip or brought old, seldom-used bikes into shops for repairs, eager to get out of the house and feel the wind in our faces. Indoor bikes weren't left in the dust, either, as exercise-hungry buyers bought pricey Pelotons and other brands as an alternative to the gym.

Related: From Boneshakers to the Wright Brothers: Fun Facts About Bicycles

Foot Peels

Foot Peels

Why foot peels? Well, it makes sense when you think about it — spas were closed and no one was going anywhere, so why not "let your feet openly shed layers of their former, leathery selves for a week straight, whether you plan to ever wear shoes again or not," noted The Cut. The best-known brand of foot peel, Baby Foot, sold out at retailers across the country last spring as the beginning of the pandemic amplified seasonal demand for newly silken tootsies.

Related: Top-Rated Beauty Gifts on Amazon

Inflatable Pool

Inflatable Pools

Before the pandemic, an inflatable kiddie pool was something of a throwback, a symbol of a long, hot summer without a carefully coordinated slate of camps, vacations, and afternoons at the public pool. But when those options vanished, so, too, did the kiddie pools from store shelves real and virtual. The Washington Post went as far as calling inflatable pools "the official symbol of America's lost summer," chronicling grown adults' madcap quests to turn their backyards into an oasis using a hose and a hunk of plastic.

Related: The Best Above-Ground Swimming Pools

Buying a Trampoline

Trampolines and Play Sets

As spring 2020 gave way to summer, parents discovered there was indeed something worse than virtual learning: A summer with few, if any, out-of-the-house activities. Kids were suddenly banished to their backyard for fresh air, and if they were lucky, a shiny new trampoline or play set would be waiting for them to help burn off some energy — if their parents could find one amid skyrocketing demand.

Related: Yard Games to Get Your Kids Out of the House

Refrigerator Gasket

Large Appliances

If you have pushed your dishwasher (or oven, or fridge, or washer) to its breaking point over the past several months, you're not alone. Appliance manufacturers have been coping with "unprecedented demand" at the same time that supply-chain issues have made their products even more scarce. Translation: Go easy on those large appliances, because shortages persist in almost every category.

Related: How to Make Sure Your Appliances Don't Fail When You Can't Get Them Repaired

Golf Push Cart

Golf Push Carts

With new restrictions limiting the use of caddies and golf carts, what's a frustrated duffer to do? Buy a golf push cart, apparently. Though golf courses were left relatively unscathed by the pandemic — after all, it's easy to maintain social distance on a great big golf course — traditional methods of lugging clubs around were suddenly off-limits, making this traditionally niche product mainstream faster than you can shout "fore."