It really irritates me when a favorite product of mine—health and beauty, cleaning supply or food item—suddenly disappears from store shelves.
I’m not talking about a store being temporarily sold out of my favorites; when they’re gone, never to return, I’m frustrated. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me over the years. It’s almost as if there are industrial spies staked out near our house watching to see which products I use, so they can report back to their companies. “That’s right, boss, we’ve definitely got her hooked on product X; time to pull the plug!” And there I am, going through withdrawal symptoms again.
Some of my past favorites went away due to changing safety standards. For instance, certain pest control products of yesteryear were determined to be health hazards to humans and animals—I get that. Remember No-Pest strips? They were solid waxy sticks of bad news for flies and mosquitos—hung up in the corner of a room inside a cardboard cage, they really did the trick on bugs! Unfortunately, the health conscious alternative replacement products have been underwhelming in the effectiveness department. The only other insect product that really works is the old farm standby: fly paper strips. However, ever since my then-long hair got tangled up in one as a teenager, I’ve avoided them.
Over-the-counter cold remedies are another example of disappearing favorites. My former go-to product for powering through cold symptoms were two-tone tablets, a combination of aspirin, antihistamine and caffeine, if memory serves. They tasted awful but worked like a charm for me...until aspirin and caffeine were removed from the formula. The aspirin was replaced with acetaminophen, which has never worked well for me; the caffeine was just plain gone. I was back to searching for another cold remedy that worked. By the time I did find a reasonable facsimile, stores were keeping cold products behind the counter, to discourage their use by home-based meth labs. Do I look like a meth-head? Hmmm...maybe just a little, when in the grip of a bad cold, but that’s beside the point. Stocking up on more than a 30-day supply was next to impossible under those rules, which seem to vary based on location anyway.
More recently, products I’ve not been easily able to find include a favorite classic cologne, a lip gloss I used for decades, and those little foam toe separators for pedicures (maybe I’m the only one on Earth who still paints her own toenails). Don’t even get me started on hair color shades—oops, I guess I’m already venting. Hot pink, purple and electric blue seem to be in constant supply, as well as vibrant reds, darkest black and lightest blonde shades. Unfortunately what I’m looking for is the “just-want-to-cover-some-pesky-grays-with-the-closest-shade-to-my-natural-dishwater-blonde,” also known as 7BB. Fortunately, that search is only necessary every eight weeks or so; but that doesn’t stop me from checking out the hair color aisle in nearly every store we visit during the intervening weeks.
I still haven’t found the toe separators, other than by the case online, which would likely be more than a lifetime supply. I’m presently making do with a set that is missing a couple dividers—and will likely soon give up on them and go back to cotton balls.
I don’t mean to imply that these personal, minor inconveniences are huge, insurmountable issues. It’s just annoying to search for a product that isn’t there anymore...at least locally. Some of my missing favorites can be sourced at specialty stores, in larger metro areas, and I have been successful at times with this approach.
I also know that just about anything can be found on the internet—even discontinued items that have apparently been stockpiled by speculators hoping to cash in by selling to product addicts like me—but the cost can be steep in some cases. I do shop online, but not exclusively. I’ve developed a hybrid philosophy—if a product can be found locally at a reasonable price, I’d rather buy it that way. Besides, I really like to see and touch some items, to evaluate them in person.
Other product changes are trend-based, and those particular trends have passed me by, it seems. These include changes in the coffee and tea markets. We don’t own a single-serve coffee/tea brewer, by choice. Rather than trying to replicate a single perfect serving of a high-end coffeehouse product at home, we’re still in the $20 Mr. Coffee drip coffee maker category—pot after satisfying pot. So when we’re shopping for coffee or tea, those adorable little cup servings are not on the list. More and more coffee and tea packages feature the single serve variety, though. I actually had difficulty a few months ago finding teabags—of any kind—to make sun tea, a summer staple at our house, and made by the gallon jar.
What’s a product addict to do? I could become a hoarder, to ward off shortages of tried-and-true favorites. Confidentially, I do buy several bottles of my favorite laundry detergent—not the most popular brand—at a time, which means I have a year’s supply on hand. Hoarding of other favorites may follow. Perhaps a support group or intervention may be necessary at some point.
Or, I could lighten up and try something different now and then—for better or for worse. Which will it be? Most likely, a little of both.
Copyright © 2015 Ruth Wasmer
Contact Ruth at ruth.wasmer@yahoo.com