As a family we enjoy a wide range of savoury snacks. We have baskets full of, but not limited to, various flavours of crisps (“potato chips” to our American friends), pretzels of different sizes, mini-poppadums, prawn crackers, Quavers, Wotsits, mini-Cheddars and salted popcorn. My children take a packet or two of snacks to school with them most days.
In the last few years my son’s choice of snacks for his schoolbag has been a small packet of each of the following: Quavers (formerly known as “cheesy Quavers) and Twiglets, the marmite-flavoured wheat snack made by Jacobs. The latter are sold in packets of six for around a pound. I usually pick them up from the Pound Shop every couple of weeks, along with a handful of other items that are either more expensive at our local supermarkets or not stocked by them: Vimto (two 500ml bottles for a pound) and 4-packs of chocolate bars like Snickers, Mars Bars and Double Deckers. Every month or two in the spring and summer I also stock up on Loratadine, as noted here. Guess how much a six-pack of Twiglets cost at the Pound Shop last time they were available. Yes, £1.25 exactly.
We have not been able to replenish our stocks of Twiglets since September. They have been absent from the shelves of the three local Pound Shops that I have tried, and all of our local supermarkets. The same was true, for a few weeks, of my breakfast cereal of choice, Oatiflakes. One Saturday morning in October I walked the length of our local High Street to see if any of them had either item. I went as far as the new Co-Op opposite Gunnersbury Station, which I had never visited before. Nothing. The last place where I had been able to buy Oatiflakes was in Oxfordshire in August, on one of our trips to swim in the Thames. There were three boxes in the Co-Op in Dorchester-on-Thames. I bought two of them. (Two for £4 which is much cheaper than usual.) When we returned later in the month the shelves were empty.
There are numerous possible reasons behind the absence of our preferred items: “supply chain issues”, the decisions made by the suppliers themselves, maybe even “panic buying”. Our local branches of M&S and Waitrose have never stocked Twiglets or Oatiflakes but I still checked them last month, just in case. On an entirely different note, Blood Orange Cointreau is also unavailable everywhere I have tried (even online) although the original version can still be found.
Over the last fortnight my wife has been able to source Oatiflakes, online initially, and then at a branch of Sainsbury’s a few miles away. But the great Twiglet shortage of 2021 continues.