by Catherine Weingarten
“Feeling buyer’s remorse for that $100 box of Grape-Nuts? Help is on the way. The maker of the cereal has pledged to reimburse shoppers who paid exorbitant prices for black-market boxes during a months-long supply shortage
.” NY Post
BARBARA (39, Friend): I didn’t know he had a problem. I thought he preferred Trix for breakfast like a normal person. Or, like, croissants. I didn’t think he was capable of anything like this. You think you know someone…
JANICE (40, Wife): He’d wake up at one in the morning screaming, “Give me those nuts!!” I thought he might not be completely straight or something… I didn’t really understand what was going on. Or maybe he wanted to be a nut farmer, or was one in a former life? I’m just a suburban wife, it was a lot for me to take.
MELVIN (42): I know it scared my wife a lot and I feel awful about that. I just had this desire inside me I didn’t know what to make of or how to handle it.
B-Roll: Black and white Grape-Nuts factory with melancholy Coldplay music.
JANICE: After I learned of his Grape-Nuts fixation, we decided it would be best for us as a couple to seek counseling. But the therapist wore brown blouses and even that was a big trigger for him. I wish she’d been a little more sensitive.
MELVIN: I had always liked Grape-Nuts but then when they were unavailable something inside of me snapped. I just started having these intense cravings. They were all I could think about — how amazingly bland and crunchy they felt against the roof of my mouth, how they made me feel like a semi-successful track runner, like a whole other life! Who am I without Grape-Nuts? I wasn’t nuts for anything anymore, I didn’t care about anything except them. I missed feeling nuts for something. I didn’t want to do anything illegal. I even tried Cinnamon Toast Crunch but I’m allergic to shellfish so had a bad reaction.
SALLY JANE (18, Daughter): It was hard seeing him like that. You want to think your parents have regular vices like everyone else: booze, heroin, ladies of the night — but to find out about my dad’s feelings for Grape-Nuts… it’s going to haunt me for years. It’s just so embarrassing! You say you want to know who your parents really are, but you don’t!
JANICE: I told him they’d be back in stock as the pandemic nears to a close but that wasn’t enough for him. Some mornings he’d try putting grapes and nuts together and chewing them at once. It always ended with both of us in tears.
Dramatization: A man sadly eating grapes and nuts while a woman cries in the background trying to see if he can help. He throws grapes at her.
MELVIN: You never think it’ll be you! Like I’m a normal suburban man who teaches math to high schoolers and cheats on my wife when I’m bored. I didn’t even think a guy like me was desperate enough to find the black market! But I did.
BARBARA: I asked him to go to our zoom bowling night — which he used to love — and he was acting really shifty. Little did I know that was the night he was going on the dark web to find the cereal and pay a rando man named Bobo $150 for a measly box.
Notes: Bobo’s face is blurred and voice changed for privacy purposes.
BOBO (50, Grape-Nuts dealer): He seemed like a nice enough guy and I wanted to give him the cereal, but there was a bidding war with another customer. I could tell Melvin really wanted it because he kept messaging me Grape-Nuts memes. At first the cereal was priced at $75 dollars but it kept going up. Melvin messaged me saying he had money saved up to buy his wife a necklace for her birthday but the cereal meant more. He wouldn’t stop bidding. He even kept outbidding himself. I’ve heard of people being nuts for Grape-Nuts but this guy was just nuts.
MELVIN: The sad thing is I would have paid more. I would have paid anything $500! $1,000! Because I don’t have a lot in my life besides grinding my teeth against that crunchy, grainy health nut cereal aimed at sad parents and old people.
SALLY JANE: Yeah, we don’t talk anymore. It was a lot on me and my mom. And when any of my friends mention the great Grape-Nuts shortage of 2021 I leave the room. It’s too much for me to take.
On-screen caption: “Melvin died shortly after filming. His cause of death was listed as angst over being without Grape-Nuts. If you or your loved one suffers from Grape-Nuts withdrawal, please contact your local cereal crisis hotline and know you’re not alone.”
JANICE: Post compensated us for the cereal… it was something, but nothing can replace my husband.