The line at Trader Joe’s stretched around the block at 72nd Street on Sunday before Hurricane Sandy hit.

At the first sign of danger, Upper West Siders tend to go food shopping. We saw that with Hurricane Irene last year, and we’re seeing it again as Hurricane Sandy approaches. On Saturday night, as the city started to hunker down, so many locals flooded into Trader Joe’s that security had to ask people to wait outside the store in a line. Once enough people exited the next batch could go in, just like in a nightclub. The next day, the line stretched around the block — at least 100 people were waiting.

The thought of going even a day without the right provisions sets off our danger signals. And here, based on a tour of the aisles at a very packed Fairway late on Saturday, is what we buy hoard.

Bread and bagels, but not pita bread

The bread and bagel bins were completely empty. Baguettes ransacked, rolls gone, organic bread snatched. But the pita bread racks looked virtually untouched.

Smoked fish was still well stocked

Turkey burgers, but not sausages

Newman’s pasta sauce, but not the other brands

Barilla pasta

Original and Honey Nut Cheerios (a few desperate people even bought the chocolate flavor.)

Oreos (but not chocolate-filled Oreos), and Original Chips Ahoy (not the chewy kind)

Scallions, but not radishes or artichokes

Also completely gone: large bottles of water, although the more expensive distilled water was still available. Beer, surprisingly, was also available in abundance. But chocolate Haagen-Dasz was in short supply. In fact, I think I got the last pint (sorry).

In line with the general trend, we hear that Silver Moon Bakery was packed with a line out the door, and there was a run on bread and milk at the D’Agostino on 91st and Columbus. Supposedly, Westside Market on 98th had lines at least 200 people long. They were only letting 10 people inside at a time, and folks stuck outside were getting “nasty,” said our food columnist Laura Weiss.

What does this say about us? Sociologists will still be considering that question decades from now, when they find the ruins of our skittish well-fed civilization.

Let us know about your shopping experience in the comments. And follow West Side Rag on twitter and facebook for more serious and un-serious hurricane coverage.

Photos by Avi.

ABSURDITY, FOOD, NEWS | 15 comments | permalink
    1. Steven Barall says:

      Where are the mice going to go for olives?

    2. Jennifer says:

      This is fairly typical for this TJ’s on a Sunday though! There are frequently lines out the door, impending storm or not.

    3. Sheina Elle says:

      I went to two stores down here in Hell’s Kitchen and I noticed that people must love chicken cutlet, mushrooms, and bananas. They were all gone. Chicken thighs however, were in abundance.

    4. Dee says:

      I was in West Side Market on 98th and it was a zoo. The check out lines snaked around at least three aisles – at least 200 people in line. The 110th St. store has crowd control better managed…they form a line outside so once you do get in you can move around and check out in a reasonable fashion. It ay seem irritating to have to wait but believe me, a much better experience!

    5. jerry says:

      Let’s get down to the essentials. That new liquor store on Broadway near Barzini’s – to quote the proprietor: “This is Christmas!”

    6. Abbey says:

      I’m such a fan of the West Side Rag! This made me laugh and laugh. Potato chips and bananas were going fast at the Health Nuts at 99 and Broadway…

    7. Scooter Stan says:

      Bread, bagels, and Oreos GONE!!!!
      O.M.G.!! Could New Joisey Governor Chris (The Human-Thanksgiving-Day-Balloon) Christie have been raiding our Fairway?!?!

      Whew! No. He’d never fit through the aisles!

      Unconfirmed reports have it that he has offered to roof-sit to prevent surboibanites from having their roofs blown away … but only for Republican households.

    8. Gary says:

      Here’s what you’re missing.

    9. Jennifer says:

      So interesting! WE saw the Westside market line and TJ’s line. Glad we went to the store earlier this weekend. Being a Northwester, I am used to power outages – what did we stock up on? Wine and beer 🙂

    10. Jason R says:

      Fairway at 127th and Riverside was really swamped last night, but they had like 20 cash registers open, so the lines were relatively short. I also experienced a shortage of sliced white bread.

      • geoff says:

        better be careful who you tell about that sliced white bread. it might be listed as a ‘previous condition’ on your medical insurance policy and if THEY find out, well, enough said.

    11. David T says:

      This is New York. Why go out? Order in. Just remember to be extra generous with your tips over the next few days. Not fun for those delivery guys.

      Now… if they run out of Sushi or Sesame Noodles, THEN we’re in trouble!

    12. LC says:

      As someone who grew up in the south, where there are lots of hurricanes, I find it extremely curious to see what NY-ers buy as “storm food”……. usually seems folks are more concerned with not having cream for their coffee than with actual food – ie, non-perishables, canned food, dried fruit, water, etc….. Strange to me. Where are you going to put the milk and eggs you’re so desperate to buy when the power goes out? I bet they don’t pre-emptively fill up buckets with water for flushing the toilet, either.

    13. Hilary says:

      Opted for Whole Foods on Columbus and 97th. Less crowds and they actually had really good deals today. I’m stocked! Bring it on, Hercules.

    14. Erica says:

      What is it about storms that makes people hoard french toast?