What Do You Do With 10 Bunches of Bananas?

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Photo: skodonnell/Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you’ve got any good recipes that call for a lot of milk, my friend Elizabeth would love to see them. She accidentally purchased an entire case — that’s four gallons — of skim during a recent online order in which she meant to buy a more-reasonable half-gallon.

Elizabeth is not alone. Strawberries, chicken, coffee filters, and so, so, so many bananas are just some of the products that people have recently bought in what you might call accidental bulk, market mistakes that result when people who are quarantined as a result of the coronavirus are doing their shopping online. (One person told Vice they accidentally ordered an entire case of vanilla frosting for a single birthday cake.)

“Somehow I thought I was getting a subscription of one, 100-filter pack every month,” Caroline Fulford says of an Amazon order she’d placed for coffee filters. “Instead I got a one-time order of 12 packs of 100 filters, which may actually last us out until summer, so we’re all set for the rest of quarantine at least.”

“My order was put together exactly as I specified,” my Vulture colleague Jackson McHenry recently told me about shopping remotely at Chicky’s General Store in Bed-Stuy, which now offers contact-less pickup for orders. “It was ginger per pound and I just hit ‘1’ on the order not seeing the per pound. I assumed it was per sprig, like the broccoli or other veggies.” You already know this, reader, but it was not like other veggies. Instead, he received a full pound of ginger, which he subsequently taught himself how to candy. “To be honest, having that much ginger turned out great.”

However, coffee filters and candied ginger are a lot easier to keep around than, say, a pile of fresh poultry. “In normal life, I’m not much of a cook,” says Esther Zuckerman, a writer at Thrillist. “I do it occasionally and usually just go to the grocery store and buy exactly what I need for one recipe. This whole ‘planning ahead’ thing is new to me.” But, intrigued by a story she saw on Eater about restaurant wholesalers now selling directly to the public, she decided to buy some chicken from Piccinini Brothers. “Their website said $2.99 for a whole chicken and that price is by pound,” Zuckerman explains. “I figured I wanted a big boy to cook up and eat for a while, so I entered ‘5’ and figured I was getting a five-pound chicken.” However, “when the box was delivered, I had five, maybe two- to three-pound chickens. It was so insane.”

“After consulting my mom,” she continues, “I put three in the freezer and roasted two the following day.”

Emily Dennett, a high-school teacher, also knows the plight of the person who accidentally orders too many perishable ingredients. “I was ordering at 10 p.m. because I had taught all day and then planned lessons,” she says. “I wanted to stock up on food so that we wouldn’t have to order for at least two weeks.” Her goal: Get enough strawberries for her son to enjoy. “I was trying to order about four pounds of strawberries: two two-pound packs. But I apparently forgot I had already put them in the cart and did it twice. Plus I was worried that maybe they wouldn’t have the two-pound packages, so I added some one-pound packages and said no substitutions.”

When Dennett’s husband went to pick up the order, the person working at the store asked if he was planning to host a “strawberry party.” (They ended up eating two pounds and froze the rest for smoothies.)

Sometimes it’s a single word that makes all the difference. Ryan Chippendale, a doctor in Boston, wound up with ten bunches of bananas, rather than ten bananas. “I came home from work and saw my husband eating a banana and I was so excited that we got produce,” she recalls. “I said ‘Oh my gosh, did bananas come?!?’” Of course they did. Lots of them. “His face was absolutely priceless,” she says. “We were crying, we were laughing so hard. I am a doctor and this has been a very stressful time for myself and my patients — so I needed that laugh like you couldn’t believe.”

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