Tales From A Hungry Life

October 10, 2014

My Supermarket Love Affair

by Maria Schulz

Dentist in Marathon Man

He’s so charming

There is one chore I have to do every week that I really could do without. So what is it? Going to the supermarket. I will drive out of my way to go to a store that isn’t packed with people who have all the manners and charm of the dentist in the Marathon Man. There’s lots of pushing, shoving, and running in the store closest to my house.

Plus, there are never enough open registers and I’m forced to go to the self-serve register. My purchases always seem to cause the register to spaz out (that’s the technical term), so an employee has to trudge over to my register and re-set it. If he had any superpowers at all, it would be the power to render me into nothing but a pile of ash.

Run, run, run

Run, run, run

I don’t enjoy grocery shopping anymore. But then my husband bought a box of Cap’n Crunch Crunchberries and my former love affair with the supermarket came rushing back into my memory.

When I was little, there was nothing quite as exciting as Food Shopping Day. My mother would spend the Sunday beforehand cutting out coupons and making a master list that rivaled the Magna Carta for sheer size. Then, usually on a Tuesday, Mom, my twin brother and I would head out to buy enough food to last our family of nine for a week.

Holds lots of packages

Holds lots of packages

We’d jump into our lime green station wagon and drive off in search of enough proper food and sugar-laden goodies to keep us revved up for days to come. My mom would blast the radio, and we would sing harmonies along to Paperback Writer, Dominique, or Eres Tu. It was hard to keep up with my mother when Eres Tu was on, because she was the only native Spanish speaker and had an unfair advantage.

Eres Tu. Oooh oooh

Eres Tu. Oooh oooh

Mom would gun the engine as we rode through the streets of Bayside Hills and headed down the 2-block hill. We would roar with laughter as the car hit the pothole on the bottom of the first hill and soared to the bottom of the second hill. When the car would finally bottom out, we’d all get thrown around, because of course, no one wore seat belts back then.

At last, we’d pull into the parking lot at Hills Supermarket. We’d climb into a cart (we’d take turns riding in the seat or in the big part of the cart) and Mom would wheel us around the store.

We’d snooze while my mother pushed us through the soap and shampoo aisles, but we’d perk right up when we came to the book aisle. My mother would sometimes get us each A Little Golden Book about puppies and kittens or Halloween and Christmas. The books were important, because every once in a while there would be a sale on sneakers and we would sit and read while my mother pulled out sneakers for us to try on.

On Sale Now

On Sale Now

Didn’t everyone get their sneakers in a bin at Hills? Thank goodness we didn’t grow up later, because if we wanted to buy sneakers that cost $500, we would be going everywhere in bare feet. There was no such thing as “Pumped Up Kicks,” and no one coveted your supermarket sneakers or wanted to kill you for them.

Our favorite aisle was, of course, the cereal aisle. So many choices! All of them bad! There was Count Chocula (my personal favorite), Frosted Flakes, Fruity Pebbles, Frankenberry (Chris’ favorite), Cap’n Crunch’s Crunchberries, and Mikey’s favorite, Life.

He likes it!

He likes it!

Some weeks, an advertising gimmick had captured our attention. Did the Rabbit want to eat Trix? Let’s get a box in case he shows up. Then there was the great “Quisp vs. Quake” showdown where Quisp was voted as more popular than Quake, and Quake disappeared forever. I voted for Quake! I’m still waiting for him to return.

There was also Chocolate Cow, which had chocolate puffs that flavored your boring milk until it was magically transformed into…chocolate milk! As far as we were concerned, the person who came up with this idea deserved a Lifetime Achievement Award. He was a genius!

Eventually, my mother would drag us out of that aisle and we’d get boring stuff like meat, chicken, vegetables, fruit, milk, bread and other healthy stuff. Eventually, the one who was sitting in the big part of the cart had to get out and ride on the ledge of the cart, or walk.

Fun, fun, fun

Fun, fun, fun

We wouldn’t get excited again until we hit the cookie aisle. There we would beg and plead to buy mallomars, Vienna fingers, Oreos, animal crackers, or chocolate chips. My mother would buy whatever was on sale, and then we’d hit the Entenmann’s table. My favorite box of cake was the Marshmallow Fudge, but since my father liked crumb cake, that’s what we ended up with most of the time.

Of course, no supermarket trip would be complete without begging and pleading for quarters so we could buy ourselves treasures from the machines outside. While our mother was paying for the boatload of food, doling out her coupons and trying to get enough “points” to cash in for her reward of a new clock or toaster oven, we would rush outside to get the all-important gumball machine toy.

Silly putty. Super Bouncy Balls. Fake mustaches. Silly eyeglasses. Wacky packs. Gum. Troll Dolls! The only thing that kept the supermarket from being heaven on earth was that I never had enough quarters to buy more than one super cool toy.

I can lift comics with this

I can lift comics with this

One time, I decided to go in through the out door, but the door began to shut before I was all the way through it. I tried to push it open but got my hand caught in the electric door instead. My mother heard the screams but didn’t know where they were coming from. Luckily, Chris thought fast and ran inside to activate the door so I would be freed.

The good news was, I got to sit in the cart while the store manager showered me with lollipops, candy bars, silly putty, books, and ice packs. I gave most of the loot to Chris but sat there with my giant lollipop, throbbing hand, and tear-stained face. The lady at the register kept telling me how brave I was and the whole store congratulated Chris for being the Hills Hero.

My other hero

My other hero

These days, no one congratulates me for my bravery when I enter the supermarket or showers me with gifts. I buy lots more healthy food than cookies and cake, and my cereal does not have 16 grams of sugar in it. And I most certainly DO NOT go in through the out door, no matter how many times I hear Prince sing about it.


Breakfast Burritos

So good!

So good!


This breakfast burrito recipe got great reviews, so give it a try. It will keep you satisfied all morning.

So, what’s your favorite sugary breakfast cereal? Do you like food shopping? What’s your go-to healthy breakfast? Please leave a comment and let us all know. For more great breakfast ideas, stop by Butterscotchblastoff. I always get a smile and a great idea for breakfast whenever I read these posts.




  1. The only thing I hate more than food shopping is emptying the dishwasher which is closely followed by doing laundry. My goal In life as a kid was to have an “Alice”!!!!! Guess it didn’t work out so well for me!!!!!!! We just have a “Paula” and she doesn’t get paid very well!!!

    Comment by Paula — October 10, 2014 @ 8:09 am | Reply

    • I would like an Alice too! My least favorite chores….hmmmm, sounds like a future post. Thank you!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — October 10, 2014 @ 9:04 am | Reply

  2. I never liked shopping for anything, except of course toys, baseball bats, ah baseball bats, there was something magical about gripping that thin handle and dreaming about winning the world series with a grand slam home run bottom 9 in Yankee Stadium. But I digress. I did a lot of food shopping with your mom and I don’t remember her buying me anything or us having fun. Maybe the tab at the checkout soured my outlook on the whole thing. Maybe my dislike for it went back to the fact I had to go to Joe DiPollo’s grocery store every day for milk, bread or whatever when I was a kid. I went on my bike. One day I put the shopping bag over the handles after I bought 2 bottles of milk (the containers were glass) and when I turned the corner the bag swung against the frame and the milk went all over. I’m not sure but I think I wasted at least a quarter on that trip which didn’t make my mom happy. Enough of this. Loved the blog.

    Comment by Bglou — October 10, 2014 @ 9:22 am | Reply

  3. good one!!!!

    Comment by Diane Vitolo — October 10, 2014 @ 10:07 am | Reply

  4. I use to love to go to “the Italian store” with my mother. The smell of cheese and Italian meats! My mother always got a lot of attention there which I didn’t mind when I was little. The owner would always come out to help her and of course give us some Bologna rolls as we waited. Now if someone offered me a bologna roll I would have to pretend that I don’t eat that stuff.

    Comment by Suzanne — October 10, 2014 @ 10:18 am | Reply

    • Oh yeah, I hate food shopping here too!!!!

      Comment by Suzanne — October 10, 2014 @ 10:18 am | Reply

  5. Maria, thank you so much for the Butterscotch Blastoff shout-out! This made me laugh out loud (not at your accident, I promise!). I shop in Manhattan. There has never been a supermarket here that had an aisle wide enough for more than one person (and that’s with the baskets we hang on our arm–a cart? You’d be knocking everything off the shelves with that). It’s like a road in rural Ireland; if you meet someone coming toward you, one or the other has to back all the way up to the end of the aisle to let the other by. And the forced friendliness of the check-out staff…”HellowelcometoFoodEmporium” and “Thankyoupleasecomeagain” said with all the authenticity and animation of deadpan comic Stephen Wright. Fresh Direct is making a killing here!

    Comment by Beth Goehring — October 11, 2014 @ 9:06 am | Reply

  6. Maria, you brought me back in time naming all those items in the store and in the machines. I do remember mom going food shopping in the station wagon with friends. Although the drive was no more than five minutes the police pulled her over because you, Chris and Marty were hanging out the back window. It was my job to roll up the window (actually cranked it closed) before the police drove away. I too hated food shopping until Kate came around. She sees it as a Great Adventure each week and when she comes home she has a big smile on her face and says, “this is the best day every!” So now every week we go on a great adventure, Kate helps with the shopping, and I pick up my favorite cereal, Life.

    Comment by Tony Lagalante — October 11, 2014 @ 3:33 pm | Reply

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