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Nosying other people baskets


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I'm always amazed at the people who buy a ton of whatever's on special: 6 chickens when they're $.49/pound, 10 cans of garbanzo beans, whatever. My local super was actually OUT of 5-lb. bags of C&H sugar yesterday because they were on special. (Which steamed me, of course, because that was what I was there for!) I can only imagine the shopping cart of the person who bought 20 5-lb. bags of sugar! :unsure:

I do this all the time. There is no other way to get decent prices on some items other than to load up when there is a special. Of course, I only buy things on special that I would actually use... But when bacon drops to $1 a package for a day, butter starts ringing up as buy 1 get 1 free, or chicken/beef parts drop into those magical sub $1/$2 ranges (respectively) you simply have to bite the bullet, load it all into your cart, and pick up that jar of vaseline to squeeze it all into your freezer ;).

I can't say I actually check out others carts too much though, although I might start now. Usually when I am in the grocery store I am too busy ducking and swinging between the overcrowded aisles, trying not to step on misbehaving children and the random junk they throw on the ground as I attempt to fill my meagre little basket with that I need that day.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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I remember once being on the way to a get-together that had been thrown together at the last moment to celebrate what was nonetheless some very special occasion (I forget what, exactly). Since no one had had time to really prepare anything special, I stopped by the supermarket to pick up some of their higher-end prepared offerings: I remember some XO cognac, duck liver pate, caviar, fancy crackers, etc.

I wound up at the express checkout behind a young couple buying some chips and Budweiser. After I had placed my purchases on the conveyor, the guy glanced over at them, turned to his girlfriend and said in a loud stage whisper, "Hey! He's got better stuff than us!"

Cheers,

Squeat

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I love cart peeping! :laugh:

I was shopping at the grocery next to the university and two girls were trying to shop. One girl said, "Oooh, this is the sauce my mother usually buys, it's so wicked good. *slight pause* OHMYGOD, it's expensive," and the other one says, "Listen, I'm sure they're all the same, grab the one on sale."

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I dare not comment on other people's carts, much as I'd like to. And the only comments I've gotten are from the check-out clerks who, after asking what a new-to-them vegetable is, sometimes ask how to cook it. That's the best!

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I love looking in people's carts. Of course, I also look in their windows when it's dark outside and they have their lamps on.

Wasn't there a Talking Heads song where David Byrne sang about changing into the person whose groceries you were looking at? How if you took their groceries home, you would become them?

Once, when I was selling used cars, my boyfriend and I made a late-night stop at the grocery store. We bought: 2 bottles sparkling wine, condoms, and, um, a heated personal lubricant.

Only a few lanes were open, and my boyfriend managed to pick the one with a female cashier that I'd sold a car to the week before.

:blush:

She laughed embarassingly loudly, and then asked me why her power windows weren't working. I did the only thing I could think of, which was to brandish the lubricant at her, and say: "Why don't you try lubing them up with this stuff? It's great!"

She didn't really think it was that funny and my boyfriend ran out of the store.

Noise is music. All else is food.

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Sure, eveybody looks, I mostly look to see what kind of junk other people are buying. Not that I'm health conscious about what I eat, mind you.

I think I do it mostly to justify my own cooking habits. It amazes me how people say they can't cook, but it never appears that anyone is trying. You don't see the ingredients necessary to cook a meal from scratch.

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I rarely notice the items other shoppers have in their carts but I often get asked about my purchases. Perhaps because I look like a grandmother who obviously loves food, they feel it is okay to ask me what I am going to prepare with whatever I have in my cart.

I have given advice to novice shoppers who don't know how to select a melon, explained what I am going to do with celery root, parsnips or kohlrabi.

One day at the produce market I was waiting for one of the owners to bring me a full box of naval oranges from the back and after he set it on top of my cart a woman who had noticed I had about 15 grapefruit and two bags of lemons already in the cart, asked me what I was going to do with all the fruit. I explained that I was making candied peel for my holiday baking. She had no idea one could do that easily at home and ended up taking my email address and writing me for the recipe.

Same thing has happened with ginger, when my plot did not produce enough or I used more than I could grow, they order it special for me, in 20 pound boxes.

Since it is coming up on pickling season, I had 6 gallon jugs of vinegar and 5 pounds of pickling lime in my basket last week. The lady behind me in line at the checkout asked if I was making pickles and when I replied yes, she said she remembered her grandmother making the best bread and butter pickles.

The only time I ever comment when I see people taking things off a shelf in the store is when I can direct them to a better buy, or away from what I consider to be an inferior product. I simply ask "have you tried such and such, it is a better buy and I like it better." I do this a lot in Trader Joe's.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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what had to be at least 5 pounds of Scotch Bonnet peppers on the belt!....

It took me about 45 seconds of stareing to realize that he works at the local Jamaican hole-in-the-wall.

That is still one hell of a lot of Scotch Bonnet peppers. Even for a Jamaican place.

I rarely think to notice other people's carts but realized how far away from their roots some people can get. A young female cashier, who was unquestionably of Hispanic descent (safe guess based on her name tag, appearance and accent), recently looked at the plantains I was buying and asked if they were bananas.

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It's fairly common for a grocery clerk to ask "what's this?" and/or "what do you do with it?" when ringing my produce through. The best reaction ever, though, was a grocery bagger who asked my sister, "Oh, basil! I LOVE basil! I hope you don't think this is too weird, but ... do you mind if I smell it before I bag it?" She said no, she didn't mind, and he took a bunch of deep whiffs (carefully keeping his nose out of the bundle). Then, with a satisfied smile, he thanked her and bagged the rest of the groceries. :laugh:

My husband and I marvel privately at the tubsters in town and their grocery carts full of frozen pizzas, chips, ice cream, sodas. There's not a piece of fresh produce to be found. But we keep it to ourselves. No doubt our cart looks strange, too: the processed food companies don't make much money from us, so that probably makes us some sort of evil pinko fiends who don't do our part to support our country's economy. :raz:

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Clerks at conventional grocers often ask me what something is, or how to prepare it.

Clerks at Dekalb Farmers Market (described earlier in this thread, clerks basically all from places very far away) will comment on my having purchased something that they use but aren't used to seeing somebody like me buy. Great conversation starter, will cooking tips included. One guy offered to have his wife come over to the house and show me how to cook even more cool stuff.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Attractive young couple with 6 huge aerosol cans of whipped cream = :shock:

While in undergrad I spent the summer working at a local JCC camp with my then boyfriend. Before each session there was a meet the counselor night that ended with a make your own sunday party.

We were sent to buy the whipped cream and sprinkles :biggrin:

I always look. That's half the fun.

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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I peek occasionally as well; mostly it's just interesting to see.

However, I am really curious about what people think of me at Safeway. I buy nearly all our produce at the farmer's market, so Safeway is only for processed foods and produce that comes from far away I forgot. Our most recent cart had: pork chops, Oscar Meyer bacon, pre-bagged lunch meat, cilantro, bananas, milk, bread, Lucky Charms, and mint chocolate chip ice cream. Mmmm, sounds like a meal to me!

Walt

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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I dare not comment on other people's carts, much as I'd like to. And the only comments I've gotten are from the check-out clerks who, after asking what a new-to-them vegetable is, sometimes ask how to cook it. That's the best!

Yeah, that happens to me too, all the time! The clerk doesn't recognize the produce I've selected (real puzzlers, too, like ginger, snow peas, portabello mushrooms) and then asks me how I cook them!

Which takes the sting out of waiting, actually!

*Of course* I look at what other people are buying! And I indulge in snap judgements about their characters, habits and lives! Of course, it gets sad when you see retired men buying a single steak or TV dinner and a six pack.

I *really* like seeing men buying diapers or tampons. I think, "This is a man who puts his family above pride".

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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Yep I must admit that I have been guilty. I have taken it to the next level on a few occasions. Standing at the Deli @ Central Market (ubber high end grocery) guy is purchasing 2LB of Proscutto @ $24 or so per pound. I had to ask what she was making. Turns out a rather interesting food network party.

Never trust a skinny chef

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My favorite is the woman who purchases nothing but a large bottle of Midol, Tampax, and two tubes of slice 'n' bake cookie dough.

I once saw a man at Costco who had the following two, and only two, items on a freight cart: a "Body By Jake" Cardio Glide-stride excercise machine thing, and an enormous tub of white chocolate macadamia cookies.

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I generally try not to pay attention, but today there was a lady with just 8 jumbo packs of hot dogs and two 1.75L bottles of Jack Daniel's. That's gonna be one helluva July 4th!

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I do check out people's carts in Shop Rite and Wegman's - casually - I don't make it a spectator sport.

But when I am in Trader Joe's I like getting ideas from other people - I check out what they pick. One time a woman bought like 4 boxes of this one kind of cracker. I thought - oh, must be good! So I bought a box. They were GREAT :)

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best --" and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called. - A.A. Milne

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I see people buying Marie Callender frozen entrees by the truckload when they go on sale at Shop Rite. I am always tempted to try one! I figure if there's more than 2 items on the belt of the same genre, it MAY be really good?? :cool:

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My favorite is the woman who purchases nothing but a large bottle of Midol, Tampax, and two tubes of slice 'n' bake cookie dough.

I once saw a man at Costco who had the following two, and only two, items on a freight cart: a "Body By Jake" Cardio Glide-stride excercise machine thing, and an enormous tub of white chocolate macadamia cookies.

you are a riot! I am having so much fun reading this thread. :biggrin:

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People do it all the time to ME! I get really annoyed when short elderly ladies practically garrot themselves with the handle of my shopping basket by trying to get under my elbow to have a good look at what foreigners buy!

Last time somebody asked me if I knew how to cook what I'd bought (burdock root), I told her gushingly that it was wonderful for ikebana, and the silly woman bought the whole story, and was asking me for details :wacko:

I have to admit that was quite a while back though...nowadays they're usually more discreet!

I do get a kick out of looking baaad in the checkout queue, and make sure that I put the unhealthiest stuff right on top -- why should the snoops know that I don't think the supermarket vegetables, fish, and meat are worth buying, so I buy my "real" food elsewhere?!

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One of our local grocers has an elderly checker-gent who loudly calls out each item like an auctioneer as he checks them through. "Well, we've got some heads of broccoli here, and some onions, and these here peppers, now I bet these are anaheims aren't they? and here we have some sesame oil and some olive oil, boy that's a large bottle of olive oil now, isn't it, and some cliantro, how many bunches? oh yeah, there's two, . . ."

I used to love getting his line until the day I absently checked out with tampons in my cart. :shock::blush:

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Mary Baker

Solid Communications

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I doubt I will ever comment on someone's food selection again.

Before I start this first post ever to egullet.com, I have to say that I'm impressed by those writers who claim sufficient self-control not to glance into another's shopping cart. I'm unclear about the moral or ethical dimensons of such perusal -- we're in public, after all; I'm not peeping through a hole in the kitchen wall -- but, regardless, I peer without compunction regularly. Couldn't stop if I tried.

Primarily, I try to imagine, as many posters have done, what the heck someone is going to do with that stuff. I'm particularly curious when someone is buying something that is odd to me -- a bit of Fergus Henderson-esque offal that I have yet to buy, much less cook and eat, for example. However, my questions almost always reveal less interesting recipes than I had myself concocted while snooping; I get lots of "Hell, I just throw the things in a pan and fry 'em up" answers. But I keep asking, often in an expectant, admiring way, in the hopes that I'll learn some secret way to prepare tripe or durian, say.

I've learned that, if I want to know the plan, I need to keep my own ideas to myself, however reasonable they may seem to me. Last month, I was behind someone who had loaded up on the week's pork sparerib sale at Stop n Shop with about fifty pounds of "family pack" flats, which sat at the bottom of an otherwise empty shopping cart.

"Bar-be-que ribs tonight, eh?" I said.

"What?" The woman barked at me, looking over her glasses.

"Umm, you gonna be bar-be-queing those ribs?" I stammered.

"Ah, NO...," she responded incredulously, as if I had suggested she fill her children's pillow cases with the raw hog flesh and tuck the angels in for the night.

And she pushed her cart down the aisle with a start and a harumph, never to reveal their true purpose.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Before I start this first post ever to egullet.com, I have to say that I'm impressed by those writers who claim sufficient self-control not to glance into another's shopping cart. I'm unclear about the moral or ethical dimensons of such perusal -- we're in public, after all; I'm not peeping through a hole in the kitchen wall -- but, regardless, I peer without compunction regularly. Couldn't stop if I tried.

Welcome to eGullet!

Frankly, for me it is less of a moral issue, more of just not wanting to constantly get depressed about being in the middle of the midwest. People eat some seriously crappy food around here, which is why it's so hard to find supermarkets with decent produce/meat/cheese/whatever departments.

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I *really* like seeing men buying diapers or tampons. I think, "This is a man who puts his family above pride".

I think the funniest thing that happened to me was I had said items (tampons and diapers) in my trolley one time and the guy at the checkout looked at me and said:

"You might as well stop and pick up a couple of bottles of JD coz you're weekend's screwed" :biggrin::biggrin:

Cheers

Tom

I want food and I want it now

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