Wal-Mart Selling More Peanut Butter And Spaghetti, People Eating Pet Food Not Far Off?

Wal-Mart reports a significant uptick in peanut butter and spaghetti sales. A retail consultant says the last time this happened was in the stagflation 70’s, and it represents close to the bottom of consumer food purchase downgrading (the slope goes from red meat to pig meat to chicken to pasta, and then PB&J). “It hasn’t gotten to human food mixed with pet food yet, but it is certainly headed in that direction,” he says. That sounds both disgusting and sensationalist. How does pet food even taste? Well, according to an NBC intern, “It honestly didn’t taste too bad! They had three different types and all were like a thick soup. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t order it at a restaurant, but I’ve tasted worse. I imagine they’d love it in prison.”

Recession Diet Just One Way to Tighten Belt [NYT]


Edit Your Comment

  1. BigElectricCat says:

    What, Skippyghetti?

    No thank YOU.

  2. rmz says:

    As far as I’ve heard, very low-income people eating pet food in dire circumstances has never been particularly uncommon.

    Still, it’s a bad sign.

  3. jscott73 says:

    apparently I have been eating at the “bottom of the slope” for a long time, I’ve always enjoyed what I eat now I feel deprived :(

  4. B1663R says:

    *holds up “The End is Near!” sign*

  5. elijah_dukes_mayonnaise says:

    How hard is it to cook beans? Dried Pintos, Lentils, Black Eyed Peas are all about a buck a pound. If people eat Alpo, it’s because they’d rather do that than learn to cook and eat right.

  6. laserjobs says:

    Crap, catfood is more expensive than a can of tuna these days.

  7. or it could just be that Szechuan Noodles are getting popular…

    and with that, my “at least one optimistic thought of the day” quota has been met. We’re all going to die

  8. Re: how does dog food taste?

    If you haven’t read Ann Hodgman’s exquisite essay, “No Wonder They Call Me A Bitch,” you should. It appeared in Spy Magazine, like, fifteen years ago, but I have taught it every summer for the past ten years and it never disappoints.

    Back to the regularly-scheduled snark…

  9. strixus says:

    Pet food – no thanks. Too expensive. I feed my cats canned “people” grade fish and its by far cheaper.
    I’ll cut empty carbs like pasta and bread before I’ll cut fish and fruit from my diet, thank you.

  10. petrarch1608 says:

    yawn…more FUD. I’m sick of the media pushing the panic button over and over again. This article is like the boy calling wolf with no wolf in sight.

  11. savvy9999 says:

    Once you’re into pet food, it’s not that far of a stretch before people start eating actual pets.

    One of my favorite possessions is an old hunting knife that my grandfather used to kill & skin rabbits… that he raised in his backyard during the Great Depression. The choices back then were rabbit, or no meat at all.

    Wondering if we’re getting there…

  12. @BigElectricCat: I kind of think of that as being like noodles with peanut sauce – just add some spices to the peanut butter.

  13. Juggernaut says:

    “Mighty nice looking dog you have there, neighbor”

  14. FLConsumer says:

    @savvy9999: My pet rabbit’s hopping around the office here while I work (she’s litter box trained)… and I know plenty of grocery stores & meat markets which means people are already there. :) She’s almost 8 lbs, probably would make a good stew. If she ever makes the mistake of using any of my audio equipment, she’ll definitely be in the stew pot, whether I can afford good meals or not.

    @rmz: Don’t forget about the crazy-old-fart factor. One of my grandmother’s neighbors once served Fancy Feast with crackers, thinking it was some sort of spread.

    I do have to say that the media FUD engine’s been working overtime. Granted, I find it refreshing compared to the election drivel, but even it’s getting old.

  15. ARP says:

    @petrarch1608: Yes, it’s a bit sensationalist. Of course, if true this means people are eating worse, get sick/fat from their poor diet and further tax the health care system. So it’s not the crisis they present, but has longer term impacts.

  16. Bladefist says:

    oh dang it. I caused this. For the like the first time in my adult life, I bought a jar of peanut butter. I just really really wanted some PB&Js, it’s not because I’m short money.

    Sorry for the confusion all!!

  17. karlrove says:

    That’s a bizarre series of substitutions. For a couple of bucks, you can get a bag of lettuce. Veggies and fruits in season aren’t that expensive. I mean, sure, yeah, if you’re hurting you’re not going after fillet mignon, but what a weird thing to revert to.

  18. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @laserjobs: I was just about to ask whether pet food was really that much cheaper than human food.

    Damn. Now I want some peanut butter.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Merrick brand dog food is actually really tasty. It doesn’t contain by-products so it is a bit pricey, but they have a great variety of flavors. My poodle is a picky eater and the Merrick stuff is just about all he’ll touch.

  20. elijah_dukes_mayonnaise says:

    @karlrove: You never saw that Very Special episode of “Good Times”? Luckily, I have it on good authority that pet food buyers only eat it themselves — they don’t, say, put it in meatloaf and serve it to the Evans fam.

  21. samurailynn says:

    @savvy9999: Hmm… raising rabbits for meat. I’m not sure if I could actually kill any animals with my own hands, but if things get that bad, I might consider it. I’m already thinking of putting in some vegetables this weekend.

  22. howie_in_az says:

    @BigElectricCat: Ewww indeed.

    No, wait, the other one — yumz.

  23. rouftop says:

    Ahh, the old “let’s make the intern eat pet food!” trick. How I miss working in an office.

  24. reznicek111 says:

    Search for a “Dan Dan Noodles” (or Dan Dan Mein) recipe. There are many on the Web…very tasty way to use these two CHEAP ingredients together, along with some garlic and green onion.

    If you can afford those, that is..otherwise you’re stuck with Skippyghetti.

  25. SonicMan says:

    @ARP: It may actually help. Eating less Red Meat, and going out the a greasy spoon less often. We may get healthier.

  26. ElizabethD says:

    Hmmmm. We’ve been eating “Depression food” for years and didn’t even know it!

    Red meat? Not on my grocery list. Nor pork. Our “splurge” protein is fish: salmon and tilapia. Yum.

  27. Orv says:

    I was going to suggest the old cheap standby, beans and rice, but then I remembered that rice isn’t so cheap anymore. Oops.

  28. fuzzymuffins says:

    @petrarch1608:it exists. cut the elitism.

    i saw a couple the other day in wal-mart with a cart half full of baked beans, spaghetti and assorted canned goods. it looked weird to me because these are items that you only see someone in a grocery store buy one or two of. …. now this wal-mart doesn’t have a large section of food items, but it did strike me as unusual.

    so either they were stocking up for a bean shortage… or that’s their dinner till the next check.

  29. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    Times like these make me glad I have a nice, plump, tender cat. Plus, there are plenty of free range hobos running around. “Why yes, I do have some change, it’s in my non-descript unmarked van in the alley. Why don’t you come help me get it for you?”

  30. Bladefist says:

    considering 3 cups of rice can feed a family of 4, not that I’m saying thats desirable, but 3 cups. At no point will rice get so high that you cant afford 3 cups. Lets calm down.

  31. SadSam says:


    My neighbor has about 30 bunnies (with a new crop of baby bunnies every couple of months) in his back yard along with 5 dogs. Some times the bunnies escape from their pens and the dogs eat them. I wonder whether its an accident or a cheap food source for the neighbor to use to feed his dogs.

  32. karlrove says:

    What a striking contrast:
    1 year ago: People were using their houses as ATMs to buy big screen TVs, cars and Starbucks.

    Now: People are supposedly stocking up on peanut butter, cat food and spaghetti.

  33. moore850 says:

    Where I live, people raise cows for meat. They’re apparently cheap, since every other house seems to have a ranch with a few of them, and they produce hundreds of pounds of great tasting meat each. Some varieties also produce milk, leather, and a number of other useful goods. But I suppose if you really wanted to suffer, you could go for cats or bunnies.

  34. Thorkel says:

    And here I always thought student chow (dry Ramen) was the bottom of the food slope.
    So we as a species fight our way up the food chain so we as individuals can skid down the food slope – there’s a visual for the new millenium.

  35. polyeaster says:

    It’s sad…there are actually people who do eat pet food…I work with a senior population, and I have heard stories of people having to choose between food for them or for their pets, so they’ll buy pet food and share it with their pet.

  36. WV.Hillbilly says:

    My neighbor has about 30 bunnies in his back yard too.
    Sometimes the bunnies escape from their pens and I eat them.

  37. CPC24 says:

    @petrarch1608: I totally agree. I always buy peanut butter and spaghetti; I never realized it was “poor people” food.

    As for eating dog food, that’s another bunch of overblown BS. Canned dog food usually costs twice as much as canned vegetables, etc.

  38. lpranal says:

    @Bladefist: While that’s kind of a fast-and-loose statement (given your icon, i guess it’s par for the course), as well as somewhat inaccurate depending on your definition of “feed”
    the basic sentiment is true: Our modern standards of food are so ridiculously padded with excess that pretty much anyone who can buy what is normally considered a small amount food, will survive. The pretend US famine of ’08 is a straw man argument- the current food prices have little to do with survival, and everything about the distribution of wealth in our country being the poorest among all first-world countries: http://www.unnaturalcauses.org

  39. BigElectricCat says:


    Thumbs up for beans. We give dried beans an overnight soak in salt water, then soak ’em again for half the following day.

    Cook ’em up in the afternoon (after pouring off a second time) and they stay firm without disintegrating, and that nasty little gas problem goes away, too.

  40. BigElectricCat says:

    @scarletvirtue (ΣΣΣ):

    My wife likes that, but I can’t stand it. I’d just as soon make some lame chili (with whatever I had on hand) and have it, Cincinnati-style, over the noodles.

  41. forgottenpassword says:

    reminds me of the old “good times” episode where the family found out that one old lady neighbor was eating dog/cat food to survive & she was invited over for some reason & she brought a casserole that the family assumed was made with pet food! LOL!

  42. bohemian says:

    Ten pound tubes of ground turkey for $14 rock. That is all I have to say….

  43. humorbot says:

    I have very fond memories of being in Paris in 1998, invited to eat lunch with the family of a friend just outside the city. We were told they’d be serving rabbit for lunch. I thought ooh, Parisian suburbs, lapin au vin or some such for lunch, how exotic! I was only 20. When we arrived, their daughter, who was maybe 10, ushered us into a room off the kitchen… where there was a rabbit hutch… and proceeded to introduce us to her lovable pet rabbit. After a moment of terrifying cultural dissonance wherein I steeled myself for dining on the family pet, we reasoned there must be another rabbit, an already dead rabbit, somewhere else near the kitchen that was for lunch. There was.

    Then their teenage son made us listen to some abysmal French hip-hop and they got us into Versailles for free, so it all worked out.

  44. Bladefist says:

    @lpranal: I don’t know what my icon has to do with anything. Unless you’re going for, if you’re a republican then you are _____.

    Those types of stereotypes are awesome in a debate.

    I’m finding that people here, and probably everywhere, are loving this ‘recession’ and oil prices, and food. It fuels their hate america fire. Walmart records they sell more peanut butter, well holy shit, you better start hoarding your food for a long winter hibernation. Lets freak out, cause the market to get even worse. Cant wait for Obama to fix this.

  45. dragonfire81 says:

    This is being caused simply because people want to stock up before prices increase, not because they think there may be a shortage.

    Just because something is priced high doesn’t mean supply is low.

  46. trujunglist says:


    See, that’s really the problem with your types. You assume that because people are unhappy with current situations that they HATE AMERICA. Sorry, but that’s fucking stupid. Just because you get in a fight with your SO doesn’t mean that you hate them, it just means that you’re displeased with the direction they took. Umm, same with America. People hate our leadership and the direction the country has gone, not the country.
    Can’t wait for Bush to fix this. Fool me once, shame on, shame on you.. fool me a second time.. the point is that YOU can’t get fooled again… because well, he can’t get elected again.

  47. lpranal says:

    @Bladefist: Yep, thats what I meant. It is a direct criticism of Republicans, based off of observations, so its more like “Every single republican I know makes similar assumptions.” Got a problem with that? Take it up with your political party, it’s up to them to change those perceptions.

  48. BigElectricCat says:


    If you really believe this:

    “Those types of stereotypes are awesome in a debate.”

    Then maybe you should reconsider writing things like this:

    “I’m finding that people here, and probably everywhere, are loving this ‘recession’ and oil prices, and food. It fuels their hate america fire.”

    I’m a disabled veteran, and I certainly don’t have a “hate america fire.”

    Don’t like stereotypes? Don’t use them. Want to debate? Bring your verifiable facts, not your ad-hominem one-liners.

  49. farmrs_wife says:

    Hey we know hard times here on the farm and beans is what we eat. Lots cheaper than sgetti and skippy.

  50. Orv says:

    @moore850: It takes 700 calories of grain to make 100 calories of cow meat. You’d be better off just eating the grain to start with, if cost is really a concern.

  51. Dustbunny says:


    I hope those folks have a well-ventilated home ;-)

  52. thalia says:

    Pet food? No way…that stuff’s like 50-80¢ a can! A can of beans would be more like it.

    And I’m no stranger to spaghetti and PB&J…for college kids who don’t like Kraft or Ramen, spaghetti and PB are the stuff of life!

  53. radio1 says:

    @elijah_dukes_mayonnaise: Yeah, it was that old woman that everyone supposedly cared a lot about– but was only in that one episode.

  54. Anitra says:

    @Orv: Except cows CAN eat cheap grass instead of expensive grain. It’s just the modern industrial farm that has taught us differently.

  55. MissCellania says:

    Potatoes. Cornbread. Beans. I know people who survive on this diet all their lives, with garden vegetables in the summer. No need to eat pet food.