The Strange Disappearance of . . .

Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here, pondering the fact that the more varieties of a product there are, the harder it gets to find the one you want. I understand that shelf space in grocery and drug stores is limited, but over the last few years a fair number of products I like have become hard, if not impossible, to locate.

I first noticed this with shampoo. I had used Breck since I was a teenager and suddenly it was no longer on store shelves. I found out later that the company was bought out in 2006. Although there is still a Breck shampoo available, at least online, it’s no longer the same product I remember. I sucked it up and experimented until I found another brand I liked, but I wasn’t happy about being forced into a change.

Then it was the soap I started using as a teen on the recommendation of a dermatologist, something called Cuticura. It’s still around, thank goodness. It’s manufactured in Canada and I can order it online, but find it in a store in Western Maine? Forget about it.

More recently, the variety of St. Ives skin cream I was using vanished from local stores, I presume to make room for eighty kazillion other varieties of that brand on store shelves. Sorry, I don’t want those extra fragrances and herbs and vitamins.

Don’t even get me started on toothpaste choices.

Sadly, it isn’t only the personal care products I prefer that are hard to find. Until recently, I was always able to buy Pepperidge Farm stone ground whole wheat bread and Arnold’s seeded Jewish rye at the nearest Hannaford’s. That’s my standard breakfast—toast and coffee. Toward the end of last year, I started having trouble finding either one. Now they’ve both completely disappeared from that Hannaford’s and only occasionally show up at the other Hannaford’s that’s within a reasonable distance. I know there are other brands, but to me they just don’t taste the same. And the slices aren’t the same size, either.

I’m not exactly a foodie. Far from it, in fact, but when I find a product I like, I want to buy that same brand and variety again. It’s reached the point that, most weeks, I end up stopping at both Hannaford’s, a Food City, and the nearest Wal-Mart before I’m able to find everything on my grocery list. Example: I like to keep a couple of Di Giorno’s Pizzeria! four-cheese pizzas in the freezer for those nights when I don’t feel like making a meal from scratch. (I add my own toppings.) In three out of those four stores I frequent, there are at least a half dozen other DiGiorno’s varieties, but never the one I want. And sometimes store number four is a washout, too. The same goes for Utz pretzel rods, my go-to snack when I want something in the crunchy and salty family. Only on my lucky days does one of the Hannaford’s have some in stock.

Okay. End of rant. I feel much better now (and a bit hungry). Over to you, dear readers. What products do you have to hunt for? Is there some favorite you can no longer find on store shelves? Share, please. I’d hate to think I’m the only one who grumbles about this!

Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett is the author of more than fifty-five traditionally published books written under several names. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries and the “Deadly Edits” series (Crime & Punctuation—2018) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in a Cornish Alehouse) as Kathy. The latter series is a spin-off from her earlier “Face Down” mysteries and is set in Elizabethan England. Her most recent collection of short stories is Different Times, Different Crimes. Her websites are and and she maintains a website about women who lived in England between 1485 and 1603 at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women.

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14 Responses to The Strange Disappearance of . . .

  1. AMber Foxx says:

    Vibram Five Fingers keeps discontinuing styles of running shoes that I think are already perfect, and then I have to try on three or four new styles, ordered by mail or purchased in Santa Fe (a three hour drive north). I’ve been running in the five-toed barefoot shoes for eight years, and have only once been able to buy the exact same style to replace a worn-out pair. I’m sure there’s a logic to fixing what “ain’t broke,” but I’d rather they let the older models survive. And that’s my rant.

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      Sooo frustrating! I’ve started buying three pairs of slacks when I find a size that fits well because I know I’ll never find exactly the same thing again.

  2. David Plimpton says:

    You’re not alone, Kaitlyn.

    Stonyfield Organic Whole Milk Plain Yogurt, when you can only find 9,000 Vanilla-flavored. Same for Kefir – plenty of flavored, but not plain, as with many dairy and other products. The flavored have too much sugar, but the food industry wants you to have sugar, I guess It may be addictive. .

    Also, few low sodium entries, though maybe it’s always been like this.

  3. Pat Turnbull says:

    I’m with David about the plain yogurts; my fave has been Greek Gods low fat plain, because I mix thawed frozen fruit in, and don’t want the added sugar and calories of various flavorings. Another pet peeve is the disappearance of Rhodes frozen dinner rolls except for the huge packages of round pellets which need to rise for hours. I have celiac disease so can’t eat any of them, but liked to bake them for my “meat and potatoes” husband.

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      Exactly. Healthier to add our own toppings or other extras. At least then we know what we’re getting.

  4. Monica says:

    We own a B&B and I swear as soon as we start buying something in bulk at Shaw’s or Hannaford’s it disappears! OTOH, we’ve also been told we can’t buy ‘all of those’ when we do a big shopping day. Really? You’d rather sell them one at a time and maybe have a dozen leftover for the day old bread shelf?

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      You’d think they’d just see an empty shelf and figure that item is popular and order more, but it doesn’t seem to work that way.

  5. Julianne says:

    any creme bleach for facial hair, my favorite cuticle conditioner, Brut cologne for my husband. All have disappeared locally. I have very hard to fit feet, so will buy several pairs of shoes at one time…anymore the one that fits is the only pair they have!

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      I sympathize. And I’m resigned to always being out of style. When I find something that’s comfortable, I’m going to wear it until it’s almost ready to fall apart.

  6. Gram says:

    Underwear! If you find something comfortable that fits well – they discontinue it!!!

  7. Kathy – move back to upstate NY and you’ll find Utz’ pretzels. I also miss St. Ives. And there’s a local Syrian ice cream full of dates and nuts (must be healthy, right?) that’s on back-order for I don’t know how many weeks. Meanwhile our health food store does carry yummy frozen wild mushroom ravioli – takes 6 mins. to cook!

  8. kaitlynkathy says:

    NY has better bagels, too.

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