Image via Post
A Reddit post that received a single upvote might've been the first sign that something was wrong. "Post Grapenut flake cereal. Been out of stock here in FL for at least 2 months," a user wrote in the r/shopping subreddit last July 20. A week later, someone tweeted the @postcereals account to ask why they couldn't find Grape-Nuts Flakes in their local Menards stores. "Hi there, Grape-Nuts may be out of stock for 2-5 months due to adjustments in our production schedules to ensure the items in highest demand are available," Post Cereals responded. "We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you. We will continue to work to get this item back on shelves ASAP." In a response to Facebook commenters in September, the Grape-Nuts account reiterated the message.
Six months have passed, but the Grape-Nuts situation hasn't been resolved—if anything, it seems to have gotten worse. In early January, Redditors traded Grape-Nuts-related frustrations in r/cereal; on one post, commenters in Florida, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and the Bay Area of California all said that they'd been unable to find that eternally dense combo of whole grains and barley.
In a statement to VICE, Kristin DeRock, the Grape-Nuts Brand Manager at Post Consumer Brands, shared some good and bad news. On the bright side, DeRock said that the company had "absolutely no plans" to discontinue Grape-Nuts. On the less bright side, she said that customers may continue to see empty spaces in the cereal aisle because of "supply constraints" and pandemic-related demand. (Which makes sense: a lot of us are still working from home, and cereal is an easy-enough breakfast before you make your 15-foot commute from the kitchen to the couch.) "Grape-Nuts is made using a proprietary technology and a production process that isn’t easily replicated, which has made it more difficult to shift production to meet demand during this time," she said. "We apologize for any frustration and inconvenience this has caused. Please know that we are working hard to get Grape-Nuts fully back on store shelves, which we expect to be this spring.”
Post declined to confirm how many of its manufacturing facilities produce Grape-Nuts cereal, or to elaborate on which of its products have been prioritized instead.
In 2009, the Wall Street Journal visited a Modesto, California, factory that was, at the time, the only place in America where Grape-Nuts were made. (That facility was closed in 2013, and Post's cereal production was moved elsewhere.) According to the Journal, the process of making Grape-Nuts starts when wheat and barley are ground into flour, sprayed with "vitamins and minerals," and mixed with yeast and water. The dough that resulted was cut into 10-pound loaves and baked inside a massive oven before being sent through a high-speed fan that cuts them to pieces. Those pieces are allowed to dry for three hours before being "crushed into crumbs" by a different piece of machinery and then sent through a chute to be packaged. One longtime factory worker succinctly described the operation as "bake and destroy, bake and destroy."Some part of that "bake-and-destroy" process is allegedly the reason why Grape-Nuts are increasingly hard to find right now. If you can't wait for your next spoonful of impenetrable barley pellets, some Redditors have recommended Safeway's Nutty Nuggets as a temporary substitute. Or there's always eBay, where Buy It Now auctions mean that you could score two boxes of OG Grape-Nuts for $55.99 or two boxes of Grape-Nuts Flakes for $40.80. (If that sounds completely bonkers, someone paid $38 for a single box last week.)Otherwise, you may have to wait until Post gets this sorted. In the meantime, there's always...other cereal?