Sunday, 23 April 2023

8x8 (10. 692)

caspar milquetoast: Public Domain Review presents Shy Guy (1947)—starring Dick York—via Nag on the Lake  

wicksy’s cocktails: a selection of non-alcoholic drinks from a 1986 Easter Enders’ cook book  

birdsite: the continuing rapid unscheduled disassembly of the platform  

here is a map to give you pleasure, a town reduced to your mantel’s measure: poetry on maps—via the Map Room  

ganja & hess: an under appreciated vampire film reexamined on its fiftieth anniversary  

smigadoon: virtual ghost villages in the clouds that have become the haunts of tourists  

rolling through the produce and said, now that’s a better buy: Toni Basil’s “Shopping from A to Z” 

schools of the air: a retrospective look at broadcast continuing education—see previously

Tuesday, 3 January 2023

food fair and pantry pride (10. 385)

Via Messy Nessy Chic, we are directed to a rather venerable resource on US and Canadian supermarket chains from the 1920s through the present—with a special and detailed emphasis on franchise structure, locations and incarnations over the decades. Groceteria is not an exhaustive survey of every municipal and region chain but features extensive histories, a blog and updates of note and a repository of changing commerce and tastes.

Monday, 26 December 2022

my company takes the entire delivery fee. you were a capitalist until five minutes ago—you should know how these things work. (10. 364)

Regular contributor to McSweeney’s Steven Ruddy presents a delightfully Dickensian gig-economy, Uber Eats retelling of the Christmas Carol, specifically the concluding scene when Scrooge cries out to a boy in the street, ecstatic that he hasn’t missed Christmas Day and attempts to dispatch a prize turkey to the Cratchit home, though has difficulties fulfilling his order. “Delivery fee is two crowns, sir.”

Saturday, 17 December 2022

7x7 (10. 342)

the gate of the exonerated: a new entrance to be named in honour of the falsely accused Central Park Five, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise and Kevin Richardson 

mighty mikko: a 1922 adaptation of Finnish fairytales 

time performance: taipa (ใ‚ฟใ‚คใƒ‘) and the Ukrainian pronunciation of Kyiv (ใ‚ญใƒผใ‚ฆ) are among Japan’s neologism—not characters—of the year  

mpi: social contagions, mass psychogenic illnesses, can lead to physical maladies—see also, and certain platforms may be superspreaders 

feliz navidad: beautiful vintage Christmas cards by artist Alejandro Rangel Hildalgo—via Marco McClean’s Memo of the Air  

blue light special: more Kmart reel-to-reel soundtracks—this one from December 1974  

heroes act: US supreme court admits more challenges to Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan

Friday, 16 December 2022

6x6 (10. 389)

third estate: Twitter begins suspending the accounts of many high profile journalists  

that went places: this wordless Scotch advertisement is really moving 

i love paris when it’s deco: revisiting the landmark Exposition Internationale des Arts Dรฉcoratifs et Industriels Modernes held along the Seine in 1925 

united states of pop: DJ Earworm (previously) remixes the year in music  

this christmas ad broke me: a somewhat cynical though more accurate seasonal supermarket commercial 

i expect these will sell out soon: Trump launches a collection of NFT trading cards



Saturday, 26 November 2022

solange der vorrat reich (10. 335)

An Aldi native and a long-time shopper though I tend to patronise other grocery stores within walking distance or at the terminals of my commute, I had never heard of the term ‘Aisle of Shame’ and felt a bit personally affronted until reading on that there was a community of fellow enthusiasts of this ever-refreshed and replenishing smรถrgรฅsbord in the central row of food and non-food items available as long as supplies last. Not savouring the task of grocery shopping, I appreciate this serendipity incubator and the cult status accorded to these bargain bins of seasonal and limited edition merchandise and will go specifically to check them out.

Sunday, 26 September 2021

unknown foods

Also growing up with grocery store chains named Piggly Wiggly, Food Lion, Safeway and Skaggs Alpha-Beta (wherein items were originally stocked and arranged in alphabetical order for ease of location and retrieval), we could appreciate this exercise from AI Weirdness (previously) that trained various neural networks on generating suggestions for naming supermarkets. We especially enjoyed how quickly it picked up on real world marketing conventions and served them back to us. Some of our favourites in addition to the entitled included: See How Much! Jumbo Boost Built in Juice, Fair-Oil Edible Foods and Little More Large Brook. Discover more about the methodology behind machine learning and be sure to subscribe to Janelle Shane at the links above.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

music for grocery stores

We really enjoyed this ambient soundtrack, via r/ Obscure Media, to accompany one’s shopping list in this 1975 muzak selection Sounds for the Supermarket. The track titles that I suppose match the arc of the hunter-gatherer quest and could be suited to some independent gaming adventure are a bit strange and evocative: Mister Satisfied, Mister Lucky, To a Dark Lady, A Touch of Class, Harvey Wallbanger, Delicate Treasures, Departure, etc.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019


reaction faces: Tadas Maksimovas creates a twelve-barrelled sling shot to pelt people with likes and hearts

line item: the humble receipt gets a rather brilliant redesign to visualise how your grocery bill adds up

novgorod: Sergei Eisenstein (previously) collaborated with Sergei Prokofiev to produce the score for Alexander Nevsky (1938), which remains the cinematic standard

pink pop: a delightful vintage Shiseido cosmetic commercial from 1968

saving face: San Francisco becomes the first municipality to prohibit the use of facial recognition surveillance technology

happy accidents: much needed pick-me-ups from Bob Ross—previously  

Thursday, 11 April 2019

express lane

Culturally, I think I will never stop shopping like a European, fortunate to live within easy walking distance to a corner grocery store and dash off to the shop nearly daily.
I couldn’t conceive of needing a buggy or purchasing more than I could comfortably carry outside of getting ready for a camping vacation or a long holiday weekend—and so I was rather delighted to learn that the Swedish language has a term for the etiquette expected when one is in the queue to check out.  One is to avoid making a varuberg—literally a product heap, not only in being courteous to the person ringing up your items and the person next in line by arranging them neatly for efficiency and ease of handling but also by not buying too much at a time—or at least letting others go ahead. I can’t think of an exact equivalent but in Germany shoppers also place the same sort of standards at the cash-register.

Monday, 26 February 2018

gaspillage alimentaire

US National Public Radio’s European correspondent Eleanor Beardsley reports on some refreshingly positive follow-up on the 2016 legislation that outlaws systemic food waste in France—leveraging hefty fines against grocery stores that throw away edible food.
Without taking into account the negative impacts of agriculture to include indignity to animals, habitat loss, pesticide and intensive water-use, humans throw away about a third of what’s raised or grown, with developed nations disposing of the majority of their food at the final stage when the most time and effort has been invested in it. Not only are struggling families benefited from higher quality and quantity donations to food-banks and other charities, supply-chain-management is also improved with the elimination of the stipulation that suppliers deliver amounts at fixed thresholds and obligating merchants to buy more than they can sell in a timely factor, reducing emissions due not only to surplus transportation but also for food-waste kept from land-fills (as food bio-degrades, it produces methane) and not artificially subsidies over-production. On a purely administrative note, this post is PfRC’s five-thousandth (cinq milliรจme).

Thursday, 5 October 2017


For its Branded in Memory project a marketing and demographics website challenged one hundred and fifty Americans (most of the corporate logos are global brands but there are some specific to American markets) to recreate—without peeking—a batch of famous marque emblems and afterwards arranged the entrants from least to most accurate. The results are pretty insightful and illustrate what logos reside in our conscious and which are somewhat less ingrained. Colours were consistently correct (unless one was attached to a logo that the company retired long ago). How would you fare? I think it would be a fun project to recreate this experiment for those (probably woefully uniform) shops on your local high street or for the labels from your usual grocery shopping inventory.

Friday, 10 June 2016

katzenjammer, caterwaul

We found this homage to the felines of the internet too funny not to share again. This commercial from German grocery discounter chain Netto features most of the viral cats—even cats versus cucumbers, but sadly, Grumpy Cat is omitted in favour of other up-and-comers—nonetheless, getting across the message that the outlet can satisfy the most finicky of shoppers.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

state of the cart

Though H and I usually eschew taking a shopping-buggy, using just a basket or a bag and preferring not to lug home more from the corner market than we can comfortably carry, the story behind the ubiquitous and often overlooked shopping cart, via the always interesting Presurfer, is pretty fascinating—especially for the insights into marketing and consumer-conscience.
An enterprising green-grocer from a small town in Oklahoma, drawing on his war time experience as a provisioner in the commissariat, realised that the standard arrangement of having clerks wait on one customer at a time was inefficient and that the self-service model was a far better one. Emerging from the Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression relatively unscathed, as people always need staples regardless of the economy, the chain of supermarkets the inventor and entrepreneur founded were holding on but just barely. In a flash of brilliance, the creator of the shopping cart found a way to persuade shoppers to buy more food (and differently packaged food, prepared meals and canned-goods) with each visit by lightening their burdens and giving their load to the steely sinews of an oversized basket on wheels. It would be hard to account for all the ways this invention changed our buying patterns and diets.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

depalletised oder unverpackt

The roving reporters of Quartz Magazine send word that a new market has opened in Berlin called Unverpackt that’s been designed to showcase how we can manage our grocery shopping without sleek and resource intensive packaging.
It’s not exactly as if we shopped in some old timey general store when I was little, but I do remember that the concept of buying in bulk, which seems now only retained for candies and nuts, was more common—at least for generic brands and maybe that’s why it went away. I hope that this movement takes hold elsewhere, since even if for the sake of vanity and brand-loyalty and in an ideal world where nothing goes to waste and is properly recycled, a lot of thoughtless cost goes into something just tossed away. Besides I think it would be fun to come up with creative storage solutions or revive quality tins worth saving.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

local colour

I can remember this strange sort of introductory hazing in the form of a ritual and obligatory exchange among freshmen at colleges away from home, which goes something along the lines of: “What is Friendly’s? What you call Arby’s, we call Hardee’s. I went to a Piggly-Wiggly once when we were visiting my aunt in Alabama.” And so on with the comparison of the terroir of fast food and grocery store franchises. I wonder if such conversations still take place. Having lived in Germany for more than a decade, I wouldn’t have thought I would ever notice regional branding again, since all chains seem to co-exist peaceably.
Of course, there is preference and convenience, but there never seemed to be a “Rewe-town” that locked Edeka out or kept down the competition or any demarcation—except for Aldi-Nord and Aldi-Sรผd (and I understand that now Aldi is really prevalent in the States too)—that defined the borders of a company’s reach, like an Appel/Apfel line in the German Sprachraum. I am beginning to notice, now however living in a place where it’s easier to forego driving altogether, that there are assertions and neighbourhood anchors, of grocers’ and supermarkets, that do require some shift in selection and expectations, plus there are more smaller markets that are independent and not part of any chain, which I am enjoying as well and certainly worth seeking out.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

einschรคtzung or fine-print

In response to the intersecting frustrations over EU labeling requirements (industry resistance to larger, legible type and the mandate to list ingredients on many products in all the languages of Europe) and the slowness of reform and the slow creep of chemical short-cuts to the business of processed foods (like aromas as understudies for real and natural content and various concoctions which sound more harmless and anodyne in German as opposed to Latinate and sciency English equivalents—i.e., FarbstoรŸ rather than naphthalenesulfonic acid hydroxy disodium salt, otherwise Red Dye Number 40), one German grocery franchise has responded since a few months back by providing customers with magnifying glasses to better scrutinize the contents of what they are buying. While I have never actually seen these installations being utilized, I do applaud the company and think by putting them on every single aisle (and this chain does not exactly have the reputation of providing the most healthful, organic—Bio selection), cues shoppers to be more cognizant of what’s going into their food and in turn what’s going into their bodies.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

PET project or post-consumer comment

The big ideas blog, the Big Think, features an article about a new concept, inclusive grocery store scheduled to open soon in Austin, Texas that will be among the first of its kind—mainstream and not a farmers’ market or cooperative, to sell a range of products without packaging. Shoppers would be encouraged to bring in their own containers and top off however much of whatever product they need. Moreover, produce, in addition to loosing that wasteful veil of packaging, would only be offered in season and promote local sources. Even in places with fully-ingrained recycling programmes, it is shocking how much packaging goes immediately after purchase to separate bins and how quickly it accumulates. I think it lessens environmental impact and any and every effort is important, but there are more consequences, I think, to reduction on the outset. Recycling is noble but it’s prohibitively expensive to reincarnate a bit of plastic wrap back into a new bit of plastic wrap and instead there’s some devolution. Another really shocking thing, aside from all the decorations that go on to throw-away card-board boxes and drinks containers, is that statutory scheme of deposits on bottles (Pfand). The bottles are not cleaned, even the glass ones, and re-issued sparkly new but are shredded and shipped away for processing like everything else. Driving around ones trash to return it to the place of purchase probably negates any net gain. I hope this idea of a food-filling station, where one not only brings one’s own bag, takes off internationally.

In die groรŸe Ideen Blog, Big Think, findet sich ein Artikel รผber eine neue Lebensmittelgeschรคft in Texas, verpackungsfrei Ware anbieten fรผr Verbraucher. Einkรคufer werden ermutigt, um ihre eigenen Behรคlter zu verwenden. Wie an einer Tankstelle, sie kรถnnen sich damit fรผllen, was sie brauchen. Neben die Verringerung der Verpackungen, fรถrdert das Lebensmittel den Gebrauch Produkten der Saison und lokal angebauten Nahrungsmitteln. Trotz fester Wiederverwertungsprogramme gibt es viel Verschwendung. Das Recycling ist wichtig, aber die Verminderung hat mehr Wirkung. Recyclingmaterialien sich einer Abbau unterzieht, und Kunststoff-Mehrwegflaschen (oder einer aus Glas) sind nicht wiedergeboren bei Rรผcklauf. Pfand macht Flasche brandneu nicht, und der Extratransport verneint wahrscheinlich jeden Streben. Ich hoffe, dass diese Vorstellung startet durch, und Einkรคufer werden mehr wiederverwenden als nur ihre Tragtaschen.