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Chart of the Day: The Google food shortage indicator

Call it the food shortage barometer because, it turns out, Google tends to be a very reliable gauge of pinpointing when people are interested in information about products running out.

After news of a Velveeta shortage hit last week, fans of the missing cheese rushed to Twitter and Facebook to lament the scarcity amid NFL playoff season and the upcoming Super Bowl.

They also flocked to search engine giant Google to learn more.

For example, news of a Velveeta shortage hit Jan.7. Instantly, Google search interest jumped to all-time highs for the Kraft Foods product.

After Huy Fong Foods, a Sriracha manufacturer, was ordered to partially shut down in November, fans of the hot sauce hit up Google to get the latest updates. Interest remained high through December, when California regulators halted shipments of the sauce until mid-January.

In November, knish concern reached fever pitch due to a fire that hit the supply of the fried item in September. Once the national media latched on to the story two months later, searches for the Jewish treat surged.

After Hostess Brands announced it would shut down in November 2012, fans of the company's Twinkies surged to stores to snag the last ones on the shelves. They also hopped on the computer to keep up to date with the sugary baked good's fate.


Leggo my Eggo became the overused shortage joke of November 2009 when news of Eggo scarcity broke that month.

—By CNBC's Katie Little. Follow her on Twitter @KatieLittle