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First things first.

Public health officials, as well as politicians around the world have denounced the practice of hoarding various items, most famously toilet paper, as unnecessary and selfish, as COVID-19 spreads.

But if crises are believed to reveal the true character of individuals, various hoarding practices around the world also appear to reveal more collective preferences.

Consider France. According to published media reports, residents of France have been hoarding red wine and condoms. Apparent reasons include the obvious, but also apparently public health reasons related to COVID-19 as the red wine could be used to sterilize surfaces.

Meanwhile, residents of the Netherlands, one of the leading advocates of cannabis legalization, stock-piled cannabis, with long line-ups recorded outside of that country’s famous marijuana cafes before the Dutch government closed them as part of its efforts to fight the spread.

Far from following a Sonderweg (special path), Germans, meanwhile, have mirrored the behaviour of citizens around the western world in hoarding toilet paper. This said, the federal government has included specialized beverage retailers, selling among other items, crates of beer on the list of businesses that for now remain open in that country.

COVID-19 has also introduced the rest of the world to one of those German compound words that combines two seemingly unrelated concepts — in this case, Hamsterkauf, literally translated as hoarding purchase, with the first part of the word derived from the verb hamstern, itself referencing the cheek-stuffing rodent, and kauf (purchase).

Residents of Denmark, meanwhile, appear to confirm the cliche about health-conscious Scandinavians by ignoring beer in favour of eggs, vegetables and dairy.


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

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