Someday, when cultural archivists analyze artifacts from the pandemic—something the Smithsonian actually plans to do—they will surely puzzle over certain purchases and marvel at our desperation. Like the avocado green fondue sets of yesteryear, some curiosities will surely be relegated to the dustbins of history once this nightmare dims.

They include:

Solo Stoves (and other outdoor patio heating devices)

Is it possible to do a ritual burning of a fire pit? My Solo Stove has warmed me through many a frosty New England night, but the idiocy of contracting hypothermia while clutching a glass of wine in 25-degree weather is the epitome of pandemic-induced social desperation. My stove’s faint flicker and smoky halo kept me toasty, but really, it was a consumerist way to signal that I hadn’t become a total hermit, that I was human-friendly enough to sit outside until I turned blue. I took pictures of its smolder, and I appreciated its après-ski aesthetic. Yes, it’s cozy; yes, it’s sort of fun to clutch a steaming mug of rum with swollen fingers while watching ice crystals form in your neighbor’s hair, but nothing compares to, oh, I don’t know…hanging out inside when it’s below zero.


On second thought, I’d better hold onto my Solo Stove, because I need somewhere to incinerate these, too.

Hand sanitizer

Those nose-twirling vials that smell like off-brand tequila deserve to be repurposed in cheap drinks at dive bars, once we can safely visit dive bars again.

Instacart (and other grocery delivery services)

I cannot wait to set foot in Market Basket on a Saturday morning, crammed cheek-to-jowl with coupon-cutting grannies, slowpokes with sagging sweats and unruly children. I’ll happily stand in line for hours browsing commemorative issues of TV Guide. I will gleefully do battle for parking spaces with rogue minivans. Anything to avoid using grocery services that deliver tubs of low-fat cottage cheese that I didn’t order.


Remember back in March, when you energetically arranged online reunions with your 2002 book club? The novelty wore off pretty fast, once we discovered that this is a service that has actually introduced unsuspecting people to their hidden extra chins. It has also forced us to see colleagues’ bizarre plant life, strange wall art, awkward mannerisms and unbecoming lighting situations. It has caused self-esteem to plummet, relationships to falter and anything resembling human chemistry to evaporate.

Ring lights

These belong at a dermatologist’s office, not inside innocent homes.

Bread machines

For some, the pandemic was a chance to try on new identities, such as bread-baking pioneer person. Once we can dine out safely again, they will surely go the way of the George Forman Grill.


Listen, I bought a Peloton. I actually enjoy my Peloton. But I also envision a day in the not-so-distant future when I can move about freely and long to escape the confines of my basement, and I’ll wonder why I overspent on a bike when I can watch old Richard Simmons YouTube videos for free. Will it mock me in a corner? Will it become a storage area for drip-dry sports bras? Will I flick it on only to find that the instructors have all left for “Dancing With the Stars”? Is it 2020’s version of the Nordic-Track?

Excess toilet paper

Yes, I fully imagine that my family will continue to use toilet paper for years to come—but probably not so much of it. I have enough toilet paper to build pyramids, including an off-brand impulse buy in early March that is dollhouse-sized, transparent and impossible to unwrap.

Random sad canned and tinned items

I began hoarding like a Depression-era granny by mid-March, stocking up on beans, anchovies embalmed in oil and fluorescent-red SpaghettiOs, none of which have been eaten and which will not expire until my children turn 21.

“Tiger King”

I might harbor some resentment because my name sounds like a certain Carole Baskin, but really: When else but quarantine would people voluntarily watch a show about a murderous zookeeper?

Google classroom

If you’re a parent, I really don’t need to explain this.