Monday, December 8, 2014

Supermarket Sweep

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I've never been the sort of person who likes to go shopping, whether it's shopping for clothes, home furnishings, or electronic power tools, were I ever to actually shop for electronic power tools. But there's one kind of shopping that I actually sort of like.

That one kind of shopping? Food shopping, of course.

Why? Because I like to eat!  And you can't eat a necktie, sleeper sofa, or band saw, were I ever to actually shop for electronic power tools and purchase a band saw.

I have even scoped out some of the secrets of successful food shopping over the years which I'm pleased to share with you now:   

1) The Cardinal Rule: Never go food shopping when you're hungry unless you want to come home with enough fruits and vegetables to feed the Philadelphia Zoo for a week and/or package of Mallomars in the economical and convenient Entire Neighborhood Size. 

2) To avoid this,  I generally purchase a bagel before I begin shopping  and eat it while I am going through the store. Frequently store personnel think I have stolen the bagel, and I am often savagely beaten behind the meat counter by a bunch of guys wearing name tags which say "Hi!  My name is Chuck." Aside from the occasional broken rib, however, I do save a buck or two on eats. 

3) Selecting the proper shopping cart can be high art.  Make sure you don't choose one with rickety or wobbly wheels or by the time you reach the checkout counter you'll be vibrating like the tiny membranes posited to exist in string theory. Also don't pick a shopping cart with the kiddie car in front unless you actually plan on riding in it. 

4) When in doubt about anything, ask a friendly member of the supermarket staff. They can always be found almost anywhere ... that's funny, I saw one  of them a second ago.   I'll bet someone's in nearby aisle 4  ... no, not here.  I'll try Aisle 14.

5) A word on milk:  I remember the days when there was only one kind of milk - fresh whole milk.  Now there is whole milk, 2% milk, 1% milk, skim milk, lactose-free milk, milk mustache-free milk, and milk with tiny colored pieces of construction paper. Which should you buy? The only one that has ever been important - chocolate milk!

6) Many products are labeled "Better if used before January 13."  Were you to eat Cheerios on January 14, you would say to yourself " y'know, this isn't bad ... but yesterday it was better."

7) Some products are labeled  "Must Sell by January 13!"  Were you to eat a sirloin steak on January 14, you would say to yourself "y'know, this isn't bad ... but yesterday I was alive."

8) A word on bananas:  unless your house is immediately adjacent to Customer Service, a banana will fully ripen, become spotted and squishy, and be primed for the garbage disposal just as you arrive home.  Only buy bananas that are so incredibly green that if you were shopping with Superman, they would kill him.

9) This is odd. I saw two or three store employees right here in Aisle 14 a minute ago. Where could they be?  Okay, lemme try frozen foods....

10) Buying the store brand can save you money and often the quality is just as good as that of the name brand. You're paying for packaging and advertising when you buy the name brand and in some rare instances, the guarantee that nobody has spit in it.

11) Supermarkets have a tendency to put more popular products at eye level and less popular products on upper shelves. They don't expect many people to want to purchase the products on the higher shelves anyway.  The other day I was looking to purchase a heart-lung machine, and just my luck, nobody tall was around!  

12) Beware of cross-selling strategies. Take a stroll down the Mexican food aisle, and just beyond you find Nexium, Tums, and enough heartburn meds to turn your esophagus into a quivering street junkie. What do we find at the end of the ice cream aisle?  Diet aides. End of the Kosher food aisle? Greeting cards worded "Sorry I haven't written," "Sorry I missed your son's Bar Mitzvah," and "Sorry I swindled you out of our mutual business."  Yep. Selling Guilt.

13) Then there's the ages old controversy:  Should you feel free to look through Us Magazine and the National Enquirer while waiting in the check out line without ultimately purchasing them?  I dunno, but why on earth are you looking through Us Magazine and the National Enquire?  You know what?  I hope the cashier does yell at you! 

14) Hello, hello is anybody here?!!  I need help selecting pimentos, for God's sake!! Where is everybody?! Damn!!! That's supermarket clerks for you; they're just like cops.  

Never around when you need one.*


*Note:  I don't really feel that way. Most supermarket employees are great! Especially the ones I'm going to need desperately when I'm food shopping later today.


Anonymous said...

I love shopping, the few times I ever go. It's my evening entertainment. Lots of aisle candy and eye candy. I used to love bringing my kid with me, especially those under three, because the women all loved to coo over them.

I love the decision making. Should I save the 3 cents and buy the one on sale that i hate, or go for the one that I like even though i don't need that large a size. good intellectual stimulation.

And love checking out watching all the people get annoyed, checking out the cuties, mothers yelling at their kids, and guys reading the Enquirer. Whoa, that was you?


Perry Block said...

I would never read the Enquirer! Pore over it assiduously is actually what I do. And I still sneak my looks at it so the cashier doesn't yell at me. Thanks for writing, Randy, I appreciate all your thoughts on this pressing subject. I didn't touch on hoping to meet your dream girl in the supermarket or shopping with coupons, which could be articles all on their own.

Carrie Rubin said...

I agree with your Cardinal Rule of never going grocery shopping while hungry. I was in Target today getting some stocking stuffers, and thanks to my hunger, I came out with Ding Dongs, a preservative packed crap food I never eat. Can't remember the last time I had one. And yet, it beckoned my rumbling tummy. The good news is, it was so bland I easily stopped at one. Now I can go another 25 years without having one.

Perry Block said...

It's a good thing you didn't purchase Mallomars in the economical and convenient "25 Years Pack." You'd be eating Mallomars all the way until you're ready for another Ding Dong. Yes, I learned early in life not to shop hungry when I almost bought milk bones and I didn't have a dog because they looked so damn good to me. Thank you for writing, Carrie!

Russell said...

Speaking of cross marketing strategies (I know you watch a lot of daytime TV, Perry), did you ever notice how they start out with ads for constipation, followed by diarrhea, followed by toilet paper, and for the grand finale--pow--hemorrhoid cream. They give your ass more attention in 30 minutes than all the girls in Philly have in the last 30 years.

Perry Block said...

Yes, and I buy all those products because I use them all, except of course for toilet paper. It's true my ass has not gotten much attention in recent years, but I expect that to change real soon! Got a colonoscopy scheduled...