There’s nothing like scarcity to drive up the price of any commodity. At the height of McDonald’s Szechuan sauce mania, a bottle of the rare McNugget dipping sauce sold for $15,000 on eBay. Now, with France facing a butter shortage that’s been described as the worst since WWII, some budding French entrepreneurs have been posting their buttered toast for sale online at extreme markups.
According to The Local, an ad on Le Bon Coin, a popular classified website that’s like a French Craigslist, went viral this week after someone posted a small, slightly over-toasted slice of baguette covered in butter for the whopping price of €5, or nearly $6.
“Tartine for sale covered in real half-salted (demi-sel) Breton butter, bought just a week ago,” the ad said. “I stress that the tartine has been toasted, however I waited for it to cool before applying the butter.”
The seller later told reporters that he posted the ad as a joke mocking the butter shortage that has French bakers in a panic. Even supermarkets have been running out of butter, as customers have been stockpiling their own supplies as news of the butter shortage gets worse.
"Customers have been stocking up, particularly local restaurant owners,” one Paris supermarket manager said, according to The Local. “For the moment we're able to manage but we've been warned to expect more shortages.”
Some of those butter sticks might even be winding up online. French butter has been popping up on more Le Bon Coin ads lately, and not everybody seems to be joking. Other people on the site have been advertising single blocks of butter for prices ranging from €10 to €50.
A €50 block of butter seems like a probable case of a fake classified ad joke, but at €10 it’s hard to tell the difference between an Internet meme and a budding entrepreneur trying to get out in front of the secondhand butter market. When a packet of McDonald’s dipping sauce can be traded for a car, €10 for butter barely even registers as being overpriced. The French government says it’s optimistic the shortage won’t go on too much longer, so with any luck French butter won’t wind up alongside $27,000 melons and these other insanely expensive foods.