On Shopping Carts

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This post is about a cart, basket, buggy, trolley, carriage, trundler, barrae, coohudder, bascart, and wagon – and all of these may be preceded by grocery, shopping, and supermarket. For me, it’s a grocery cart. Then again (in my mind), the same cart in a different store could be a shopping cart or just a cart.

Long-time readers here know that I enjoy playing golf. While golf carts have a different application than carts at the grocery, I enjoy this 30-second commercial from the past that combines those two thoughts.

 

Back at the store and regardless of terminology, grocery carts haven’t been around forever. Sylvan Goldman, a Oklahoma City grocery owner, invented this wheeled apparatus in 1937. Before then, shoppers used a hand-carrying basket. Goldman’s idea had a simple purpose – allow shoppers to buy more! Have you noticed a grocery cart looks like a big basket (without handles) on wheels?

Having gone through various design changes since Goldman’s first edition, carts during my youth were the basically same from store to store (well, other than the feature identifying the store). Through the years, their size has increased to reinforce the belief that size matters. On one hand, this is a contradiction because people eat outside the home more.

On the other hand, today’s grocery stores are larger, offer more products, and some include clothing, home goods, hardware, sporting goods, and lawn & garden. Therefore the cart must be large enough to contain canned vegetables, milk, cereal, pasta, a toaster oven, a laundry hamper, package of underwear, a set of socket wrenches, a flower pot, an ornamental shrub, and a bag of mulch.

Through the years, I’ve been the primary grocery shopper in our home – so, I notice shopper behaviors as well as their carts. Store aisles are typically wide enough for two carts to carefully pass – but not much more. After all, stores must maximize space for stuff to buy!

Given the tight quarters, I’ve consider the idea that shoppers should pass a grocery cart operating test before being allowed to use one. For instance, shoppers should never stop the cart on one side of the aisle, and then stand beside the cart while analyzing shelf products on the opposite side. Never block an aisle. Never!

From Wikipedia

I’ve often thought that grocery should hire plain-clothed cart police to issue citations for poor cart management. Then again, that would be effective only if all stores participated with equal scrutiny. Other times I wonder if I should carry a prod to shock people for improper cart management. Clear the aisle, here comes the crazy man with the stick!

As I think about my primary grocery store, they offer full-sized carts, mini-carts (for shoppers with a short list), and two sizes of hand-carrying baskets. Battery-operated riding carts for elderly and the disabled are a great addition – but should operators be subject to standards by passing a test or attending a class?

Sean Dreilinger via Flickr Creative Commons

Oh wait – there are more carts! How about the carts the size of a stretched limo because they have a car attached to the front so a kid can ride while the parent shops. Of course, this is done to entertain the child so they don’t disrupt other shoppers with loud squalls. However, ever notice how much space those thing require to turn the corner from one aisle to the next?

If the limos aren’t bad enough, how about he miniature carts for a kid to push around. Beyond the “how cute” aspect, what the hell do they know about cart etiquette? Then again – the price we pay for another squalling-prevention technique.

Unfortunately, stores won’t require a shopping cart operating license – nor hire a team of undercover shopping cart gestapo – and I won’t be taking a shocking device with me to the store. But, at least I got this heavy burden off my chest – not that my message will do any good for society because two past posts (one and two) about grocery carts and shoppers didn’t change behaviors.

On the positive side, grocery carts can be a source of amusement – as Exhibit A below shows.

On Oreos

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Oreos – a long-lasting brand from Nabisco (National Biscuit Company). From its March 1912 patient/trademark registration to announcing its appearance to American consumers, Oreos have treated multiple generations.

From the Oreo Biscuit to the Oreo Sandwich to the Oreo Creme Sandwich to just Oreos, this cookie is an iconic American brand with global appeal. Think back to the days when Oreos were just Oreos – simply two embossed chocolate-flavored wafers with a sweet vanilla cream filling in between. Did you bite into them whole or did you separate the wafers to then scrape the creme with your teeth?

 

Yes – those were the days – the days when Oreos were just Oreos. To Nabisco’s credit (now part of the Kraft empire), Oreo is now more than a classic cookie – it is a very successful brand. A brand that has transformed the iconic treat into a buyer’s dilemma.

Do you want some Oreos? Do you want regular size, king size, Thins, Bites, or Thin Bites? Do you made a small package, family size, or just a sleeve? Oh wait – they also come in Go-Packs, lunchbox size, convenience pack, and party size! You should consider 2 packs, 4 packs, multiple packs boxed as 4, 12, or 18 counts . Don’t forget a case of boxes!

Do wafer do you want: Chocolate, Golden, Heads or Tails (one of each)? Reminder – there is also a triple layered! (That’s three layers with two layers of creme.)

If you want Chocolate wafers, what stuffing flavor do you want? Your choices are vanilla, strawberry cheesecake, pistachio, cherry cola, birthday cake, double delight, mint creme, cool mint, red velvet, Mississippi mud pie, chocolate egg, cookie dough, brownie butter, chocolate chip cookie, peppermint bark, strawberry creme, peanut butter creme, banana split, Reese’s peanut butter, butter creme, Dunkin Donut mocha, chocolate peanut butter pie, rocky road trip, hot & spicy cinnamon creme, fireworks with popping candy, spring, winter, and Halloween

Don’t forget the fudge dipped and white fudge covered – which is different from the white chocolate fudge.

If you want Golden wafers, what stuffing flavor do you want? Your choices are salted caramel, cinnamon bun, waffles & syrup, blueberry pie, fruity crisp, candy corn, lemon creme, pumpkin spice, chocolate creme, rainbow sherbet, jelly donut, strawberry shortcake, kettle corn, and popping candy.

How do you want the creme: double-stuffed, mega-stuffed, or just the standard?

Oh, you want Reduced Fat Oreos? That can be done – but the choices are limited.

For me on this day, I didn’t buy any Oreo’s because they didn’t have what I wanted – a snack pack of Mini Bytes Heads or Tails Thins with double-stuffed salted caramel filling that are dipped in fudge. What’s a person with a craving to do in the age of Oreos not being just Oreos any more?

On Grocery Store Incidents

A grocery store is a wonderful place to witness a wide range of human behavior. Maybe that is a reason I used the marketplace in past posts. My recent trips brought these situations to my attention.

I cannot believe the idea came to me too late. A lady, who was buying a regular size bag of potato chips, was in front of me in the self-checkout aisle. I got the impression that she just put some money on a gift card, which had made its way through the cybermaze. The clerk got involved and directed the lady to the service counter. Then it hit me – I should have purchased the chips for her.

Some things make me feel guilty. For instance, one time I went back to the bank after discovering the clerk gave me 12 cents too much. Recently, I couldn’t pass on the calling from the Cadbury Egg display. Once I got to the car, I noticed I did not run egg through the scanner because it was still in the cart – not a bag. Heck yes I ate it, but several days later when I returned to the store, I paid for the egg with one from the display, and then returned the egg to the display

On the way out of the store, someone left a cart in the middle of a parking space, which was a space-and-a-half from the cart corral. To top it off, it was in the middle of a handicap parking spot. I pushed the cart into the stall, but I admit mumbling unkind thoughts. Later I wondered if the guilty party was physically capable of pushing the cart to its rightful spot. I will never know, and will not venture to guess – but I do wonder.

Past Grocery Store Posts

On a Grocery-Store Experience

There’s nothing like a trip to the grocery store to witness the diverse nature of our society; variety of shapes and sizes, varying socio-economic circumstances, varying dress, different behaviors, and countless of other human traits.

While entering the parking lot I see a car cutting across the lot. As we approach one another, I slowed down to prevent being broadsided if I turned down the wrong row, and then noticed the driver is also talking on their phone.

As I start turning into a prime parking spot, a loose shopping cart was also there. Of course it’s very close to the cart corral.

I move the cart to the corral, only to notice that other two carts were just outside the corral. How hard can this be? Maybe the prior shoppers lacked the ability to push their cart into the stall.

As I’m walking toward the store, a lady exits her car talking on her phone, and continues as she walks toward the store. Since she’s still babbling while I’m in the produce department, I quickly get my items and change my shopping route.

In the serenity of my next aisle I encounter a deliberate shopper – the one standing beside their cart and in front of the items while blocking the entire aisle. Since I’m the patient type, I determined what I could get in that area without taking my cart.

Able to move on, I rounded the corner toward the next aisle and saw the lady still on the phone. I come to a screeching halt, and off to another aisle.

Fortunately, an aisle with a clear path; unfortunately, an aisle with nothing I needed. Knowing my needs are in the next aisle, I turn the corner to be confronted by a two-shopper blockade holding a social court. No problem, off the next aisle where a shopper studying a kitchen gadget label is pondering her decision. This time I politely say, “Excuse me”

Time to go back an aisle – Oh no … she’s still talking! Since she lacked Secret Service Agents, she can’t be that important, so I got my items, and pass her (while mentally mumbling to myself).

In the next aisle I encountered a leisurely shopper slowly strolling aimlessly down the center of the aisle; meaning I can’t pass on either side. Since I needed items here, fell in line behind the parade’s Grand Marshall.

After two more stops I move toward checkout. While passing the express, self-check lanes I noticed the clueless shopper who thought the sign said, “Express Checkout for Shoppers 12 and Over.” The good news is that it wasn’t the lady with the cell phone.

Finally, I’m out of there; bags in the car; cart in the corral; and driving down the row, but not home free because as I drove in front of the store, I waited on the person slowly crossing at a diagonal because they don’t know the shortest distance between any two points is a straight line!

Yes, this all this happened on the same day. Yes, we encounter situations like this everyday. Yes, I too can (sometimes) be the cause. Today though, I wish I had some of Bill Engvall’s signs to distribute. So I leave this post with three thoughts and a very short closing.

Principle 1: Life isn’t about us as individuals.

Principle 2: The little things we do in life don’t take that much extra time and effort. Smiles, greetings, a multitude of niceties, and even putting shopping carts in parking lot corrals, go a long way. Many years ago, a friend of mine would say, “It doesn’t cost much more to be first class.”

Principle 3: Be aware of your environment, because every decision we make as individuals impact others – even those little things.

With not that much effort, these principles not only would improve our life, but just as important, they would better the life of others – and that’s what life is about.

In Search of Popcorn

As the grocery shopper in our home, I noticed we were out of popcorn. So on one of my grocery story runs, I remembered to add popcorn to the list.

popcornEveryone knows that today popcorn world is about the microwave, yet various “old ways” as do-it-yourself kernels and Jiffy Pop in its own pan are still available on the bottom shelf. One must admit that the microwave method sure is easy.

So there I am, at the store and standing in front of the popcorn choices – not looking at the 3-5 brands, but at the styles. There’s Butter, Buttery, Extra Butter, Light Butter, Extra Light Butter, Movie Butter, Movie Theater Butter, Old Fashion Butter, Buttery Lovers, Xtreme Butter, Ultimate Butter, Buttery Explosion, Jumbo Pop Butter, Natural with Butter, 94% Fat-Free Butter, Buttery Garlic, Tender White with Real Butter, Cheddar White Cheddar, Homestyle, Kettle Style, Smart Movie Style, Caramel, and the ever-popular Mantequilla.

Now keep this in mind – all I want is plain popcorn. I don’t want butter or any extra flavors, just plain popcorn. As I continued to gaze upon the massive offerings, I finally saw it … Natural: Light with 50% Fat than Regular Popcorn, but still more sodium than I desired … and the store brand of all things. Considering my options: SOLD!

And for those needing topic-related music, enjoy the video. Do you know the song Hot Buttered Popcorn?