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Harald Martenstein: On the question of why so many people have been hamstering toilet paper lately

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© Martin Fengel

ZEITmagazin No. 14/2020


For the first time in my life, I talked to several people about toilet paper in a week. It has become as rare on the shelves of many supermarkets as the capercaillie in the German forest. Because of Corona there were and are hamster purchases. Why are many people terrified that they will run out of toilet paper, a fear so strong that it drives them to use their elbows to push themselves through a tightly packed shelf, possibly push others aside and then load four or five packs of ten home to start? Who are those people? What kind of souls are they? To put it in the language of globalization, which has just been hotly debated again: what makes them tick?

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