Business

Panic buying in Lexington? An urban myth, right?

You can take those magazine personality quizzes, but when it comes to what really defines you, it's what you run through the grocery store cramming into your cart when you hear of winter's first big snow, like the one that walloped the Bluegrass on Tuesday.

Traditionalist wags may swear by stocking up on milk, bread and toilet paper — The Washington Post dispatched this conceit in 2005 in a story with references to the "subliminal monochromatic unity" between snow and those white grocery store staples — but what you need to survive that dark 12-hour period when you may be unable to claw your way to the Rally's drive-through might be something different.

Budweiser and Lean Pockets? Bourbon and kitty litter? Campbell's tomato soup and Pop Secret?

Before about 10 a.m. Tuesday at Good Foods Market and Café on Southland Drive, not a single shopper had bought milk, bread or their food-staple cousin, eggs. But manager Anne Hopkins said patrons had bought cat food, frozen bison, zucchini bread and coffee drinks. When a milk purchase was finally made, it was not the standard plastic jug o' pasteurized: It was the Rebekah Grace unhomogenized milk with cream on top, sold in glass returnable bottles.

Lexington caterer Donna Potter keeps a well-stocked pantry, but most days her diet includes lots of fresh ingredients. For snow days, her favorite purchase is fresh garlic, and lots of it. Wintry weather calls for hearty stews, she thinks, and she's big on the healing power of garlicky soup.

Connie Minch, the extension agent for family and consumer services in Scott County, says snow days trigger a holiday mentality in consumers, who then buy snacks and high-fat foods like frozen cookie dough as both a treat and a project for schoolchildren.

She'd like to see more of the temporarily homebound eating fruits and vegetables, items high in fiber and low in fat, rather than going for high-fat comfort foods.

"We may feel stranded at home," Minch says. "Most of us are not accustomed to being at home. ... And that we are at home makes us feel as if it is a holiday: 'This is a special day, so I will indulge myself in treats.'"

So is the milk-and-bread run the stuff of suburban myth?

Leather crafter Wayne Schedler of The Last Genuine Leather Co. doesn't think so, even though, he says, "any time I go to the grocery store during something like this, it's because I need raisins or honey or something. It's not a myth. It really happens."

Tim McGurk, the Kroger Co.'s manager of customer relations for its mid-South division, said that slick, cold weather brings in customers who want milk, bread, cereal, soups and chili fixin's, including ground beef, spices and beans.

But it also brings in drivers who are suddenly reminded they lack ice scrapers and window washer fluid.

And there's one surprise item that also sells well at Kroger in times of weather stress: DVDs.

"DVD movies sell pretty well," McGurk says, "when people think they're going to be stuck in their house."

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