How Sweet It Is

Sugar 1Photo by the Author

We didn’t need twenty-five pounds of sugar, but I felt a small thrill of satisfaction as I lifted the plastic bag onto my cart. The sensation could have been a stab of pain from hefting the heavy sack.

“What will we do with that much sugar?” My husband, Andrew asked.

“I’ll use it for my tea and coffee,” I answered. “It won’t spoil,” I added, after calculating how long the hoard would last if I drew out my usual ½ cup per week. I pointed to the back of the bag. “And here’s a recipe for sugar cookies.”

When I first spotted the shiny white package in the clearance aisle at Kroger, I thought it contained pool chemicals. I stepped over the bag where it lay on the floor, snugged against the lowest shelf as though someone had lost the strength to lift it back into place.

“Twenty-five pounds for $4.89! That’s…” My accountant brain calculated the price per pound—“a great bargain.”

If asked to list the features of their dream home, most people would include a lovely kitchen, a spacious backyard, a sparkling pool. My perfect house would contain lots of closets. Closets with shelves, racks, walk-in closets, storage spaces tucked under stairs, coat closets so wide and deep you’d think there’s a door to Narnia in the back. I need space for my stuff.

“It’s not hoarding if it’s something we will eventually use,” I told Andrew as I crammed twelve skeins of mulberry hued yarn into a cardboard box, to stash under the bed. Buy-one-get-one, how could you refuse?

When I was a child, my mother paid for our family groceries with food stamps. We stood in line for government commodities—five pounds of cheese, flour, canned vegetables, and sometimes sugar. Having survived the Great Depression, my folks were certain that economic ruin lay just around the corner. My dad held onto a booklet of sugar rationing stamps from World War II until the 1970s, when he passed them on to me.

I’ve inherited my parents’ insecurity, as sure as I’ve inherited my dad’s under bite and my mother’s nose. Like them, I ease my anxiety over the future with a full pantry. I consider my Costco membership as thrilling as a ticket to an amusement park. There’s a cult of clutter-clearing going around, but I wonder if any of them have experienced the life-changing magic of buying in bulk.

At home, I transferred five pounds of rice into several smaller jars, dumped a pound of beans into a pot to cook for dinner, and repurposed a plastic tub I had reserved for the ten-pound bag of cornmeal forgotten in the back of the pantry. The twenty-five pounds of sugar had landed on the clearance aisle because of a small hole in the package’s top. I discovered this at the store when I lifted the bag onto the register to scan the price tag.

“No problem,” I reassured Andrew while I swept grains of sugar off my clothes. “I’ll put it up in something when we get home.”

“The ants will love it,” he said, as he knocked sugar from the bottom of his shoes.

Safely secured in large tubs, glass jars, plastic totes, and the china bowl next to the coffee maker, I sighed with relief knowing my sugar future was secure. If we find ourselves in an apocalypse before my hoard runs out, drop by. We will have cookies.

*Originally published on Medium at



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