Twist of fate
The Accidental Hobby Boom

Knitting Explosion Photo (detail): Giulia Bertelli © Unsplash

Puzzles, board games, crafts, and bread baking. Through a bizarre twist of fate, these hobbies have gained a mainstream following amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Savannah Beck

In a reality where sports are suspended and barhopping is outlawed, indoor pastimes that were once considered obscure are now thriving – handicrafts, bread baking, puzzles, and boardgames have found their niche, if only by accident. These sleepy industries – toymakers, craft stores, and yeast suppliers – are finally seeing the heyday of their dreams, but they can’t keep up!
Back in the day, puzzling was a quiet hobby that a small portion of the population enjoyed. Seemingly, this changed overnight when COVID-19 struck and the entire world decided to pick up a new pursuit. The increase in interest was so steep that Ravensburger, a German game and toy company, reported a 370% surge in jigsaw sales in March 2020 alone. Since then, “puzzles” have been added to the long list of mundane items that have suddenly become scarce: toilet paper, Clorox wipes, tissues, hand sanitizer... and puzzles.
Gone too are the days when knitting and crocheting were relegated to grandmothers. Thanks to YouTube tutorials and downloadable patterns, the cryptic world of handicrafts has been demystified. Apparently, “online resources + indoor confinement = an 80 percent increase in sales after 143 years in business.” At least, that formula worked for Lion Brand Yarn. Lion Brand isn’t unique, though. Other craft companies like We Are Knitters have also seen their sales – and their Instagram followers – skyrocket since March 2020.
Way back when, board games may have been a disappointing activity for a Friday night. But since parties have been put on hold indefinitely, the demand for tabletop games has been unprecedented. In the midst of the pandemic, Frosthaven, a sequel to the game Gloomhaven, managed to become the third-most-funded project ever on Kickstarter. Looks like we’re on the threshold of a new era, guys – welcome to the Board Game Renaissance.
Once upon a time, supermarket shelves were overflowing with bread baking supplies. But since the outbreak of the coronavirus, bread baking has become the next big thing – so much so that even the dry ingredients are nowhere to be found. In April 2020, one flour manufacturer reportedly sold out of all of its signature flours online, despite operating around the clock in a valiant attempt to keep up with demand. Yeast is in short supply too. But that’s not stopping the bread bakers, they’ll just make their own yeast.
When will the madness stop? Not yet! The list of new obsessions goes on. It’s hobby delirium, and no pastime is too niche to find a mass following in this climate. But please – no hobby hoarding, leave some fun for the rest of us.

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