Weird History
14 voters

The Most Bizarre Shortages In History

Updated March 24, 2021 123 votes 14 voters 33.5k views14 items

List RulesVote up the shortages you never expected.

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020, it shouldn’t come as news to anyone that markets will occasionally run short of something, and not just the staples like food, water, and toilet paper - sometimes it’s a lot stranger than that. The 21st century has already witnessed a kimchi shortage, a hazelnut shortage, and the brief disappearance of all Twinkies, and that’s just a sampling of the many items humanity has temporarily run out of in the wake of recent mitigating circumstances.

These shortages can come in many forms and be incited by wildly different events. The world is simply running out of certain products, like helium for party balloons, which has led to an ongoing dwindling of availability that will probably never be reversed. Other shortages, however - like a memorable incident in which Russia ran out of vodka for an entire day - are a lot sillier, though not without their own degree of seriousness.

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    In 2011, The Japanese Tsunami Led To A Shortage Of High-Quality Tape For Film And TV Studios

    A specific type of high-quality tape, Sony’s HDCAM-SR tape, has been used for a large portion of film and television production worldwide, and the product used to come from one factory only in Miyagi, Japan. That proved disastrous to the film industry in 2011 when an actual disaster, in the form of a now infamous earthquake and subsequent tsunami, caused massive damage to the facility.

    When the news hit, various studios and production companies started buying up all the remaining stock of Sony tapes at greatly inflated prices, leading to an almost immediate shortage that couldn’t be quickly rectified. Once Sony got the factory back on its feet, it was back to business as usual - albeit with a greater impetus to find alternative methods of recording. 

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    Bad Weather That Limited Grazing Time In 2011 Led To A Butter Shortage In Norway

    Norwegians received a nasty gift for the 2011 holiday season - a shortage of butter, one of their most beloved national products. The dearth of the delicious spread came after an inordinately wet summer that affected all of Scandinavia, resulting in lower-quality animal feed and thus lower milk productivity among the region’s cattle.

    While the butter shortage affected other Scandinavian countries, like Sweden, it was felt most strongly in Norway, where one government-controlled co-op, Tine, produces 90% of the nation’s supply. The end result was an entire holiday season in which butter showed up sporadically on store shelves and was quickly snatched up by eager consumers, leaving everyone else with unbuttered Christmas buns.