ROTHENBURGER – It’s panic buying, not hoarding, and our brains make us do it

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

I ONCE RAN INTO ELVIS in frozen foods. He was wearing his jump suit and checking out the Lean Cuisine fridge.

“I’m a huge fan,” I told him. “I have all your LPs.”

“Thank yuh, thank yuh very mush,” he said, gracious as ever and flashing his famous grin.

He left the building just before I woke up. It seemed so real.

Of course, if it had been real, he would have been shovelling toilet paper, milk and leafy greens into his cart and fighting over the last pound of hamburger.

Hoarding is an irrational act and seems to confirm that the whole world is going insane. We shake our heads in righteous indignation and condemn it as irrational and selfish. But, on closer examination, we shouldn’t be surprised nor quite so indignant.

The urge to hoard, it turns out, is hard-wired into our brain. “Hoarding” is actually the wrong term for what’s been going on in our grocery stores this week, and what happened in the early days of the pandemic.


Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9357 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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