Does anyone who writes for the Atlantic have kids?

Atlantic editor Joe Pinsker decides that people who stocked up on bread, milk, and eggs just before this weekend's Northeast blizzard were 1) psycho survivalists; 2) victims of a mass buying panic; 3) ignorant rubes who don't know that it's silly to hoard perishable items like milk and eggs; 4) all of the above.

In a virtue-signaling article titled "Milk, Bread and Eggs: The Trinity of Winter Panic-Shopping," Joe waxes humorous over all those silly people who mobbed the supermarkets shortly before the flakes started falling on Friday afternoon:

Which led me to wonder: After people hear a message so ominous, and after reminders of their employers’ inclement-weather policies hit inboxes, what do they buy to prepare for spending a good deal of time indoors? I called up the managers of some grocery stores in D.C. to find out, and they all had more or less the same answer: bread, milk, and eggs. This holy trinity of winter-storm preparedness is not some quirk of the nation’s capital—bread, milk, and eggs are popular panic-buys everywhere from Knoxville to New England.

Now, I get bread. It doesn’t need to be cooked or refrigerated, and it goes with just about anything. The CDC even recommends it as something to have on hand for storms. But milk and eggs? Why, when the concern is that the power might go out, do people hoard things that need refrigeration, or even cooking?

So Joe decided to call up some clinical psychologists to help him armchair-diagnose all the pre-storm crazies:

There are some theories out there about the roots of pre-storm hoarding, most of them reasonable enough. “We spend a lot of time and energy trying to feel in control, and buying things you might throw out still gives the person a sense of control in an uncontrollable situation,” a psychotherapist told How Stuff Works. And one clinical psychologist suggested that buying things that might spoil is an assertion of optimism: It’s “like saying, ‘The storm will be over soon and I won’t be stuck in this situation for long.’”

What would we do without clinical psychologists?

But Joe wasn't satisfied with psychoanalysis, so he phone another kind of expert–a public intellectual.

But those explanations cover stockpiling in general, not why people particularly like hoarding bread, milk, and eggs. Peter Moore, the author of The Weather Experiment: The Pioneers Who Sought to See the Future, told me that while he didn’t have any definitive answers, he did have an idea. “We're encouraged, both by the modern media and by our primitive survival impulses, to project these extreme narratives—‘We're going to be buried in the house for a week,’ etc.—and people generally end up feeling very vulnerable,” he wrote to me in an email. “It must have something to do with the perceived comfort and safety of [those] particular products.”

"Perceived comfort and safety"! That's very intellectual!

Then Joe contacted an enconomist and yet another psychologist:

That might hint at why these particular foods are popular right before extreme weather, but it doesn’t get at why they are so popular. In the days preceding a big storm, stores are mobbed—shelves of bread are left skeletally bare, baskets are left abandoned near checkouts by the impatient, and the tiled floor near dairy fridges can be speckled with fallen egg cartons. Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at Duke University, thinks that this might be the product of groupthink. “If we go somewhere and we see other people buying those particular things,” he says, “all of a sudden [we’re] even more interested in those [things].” One consumer psychologist quoted by Time has taken this a step further, speculating that “we are prewired to fight for food when we sense that resources are scarce.”

Wow! Not just Snowmageddon but Egg-mageddon! Fallen cartons all over the supermarket floor as customers try to strangle each other as they wrestle over the last dozen! I don't know where Joe shops, but I didn't see anything like that at my neighborhood Safeway, although the egg–and bread and milk–shelves were certainly bare by Friday evening.

Joe, I have a far simpler explanation. It's called children. Anyone who's raised a family or grown up in one knows how fast it takes kids to empty a gallon jug of milk. And eggs are youngsters' best friends, too. French toast, pancakes, waffles, omelettes. If you've got children cooped up indoors for a 30-hour blizzard, you want to serve them the food they want to eat.

And there's something else: If you like to cook, cooking is exactly what you want to do when you can't get out of the house. I spent Saturday afternoon amusing myself by baking quick breads. Do you know what two major ingredients of quick breads are? You guessed it: the e-word and the m-word. In fact, My husband and I raided our freezer to turn Blizzard Weekend into a gourmet weekend: tenderloin steaks on Saturday and veal scallopini on Sunday, with appropriate fine wines.

Now, granted, we had no power problems living near downtown DC. But if we had–well, it was subfreezing out there, and Mother Nature in winter was the original fridge.

So Joe, you don't need the psychologists and the economists and the public intellectuals. It's not "groupthink." It's not "feeling very vulnerable." It's not "hoarding."

It's actually people being rational and figuring out what items they and their families might actually need or want during a paralyzing snowstorms. People aren't stupid, you know.