When I went grocery shopping with Mom, we liked to play a little game. We used to peer into the carts of fellow shoppers and try to figure out things about them. If someone, for example, stocked the cart full of hot dogs, hamburgers, buns, and charcoal, we'd surmise the shopper was planning a barbecue. Someone buying sugary cereals and brightly-packaged treats either had a small child at home or a chronic sweet tooth.
So let's play Shopping Cart with some shopping lists found while walking our doggie, Una.
We begin with a list that reads:
Lays Plain chips
Kit Kat Candy
lunch meat - chopped ham - (ILLEGIBLE) turk.
Something to drink
Frozen Pizza and Pizza Bites
Anyone who begins a shopping list with Spam (and isn't from Hawaii, where it's used more creatively) has different nutritional priorities than I do. This shopping list is geared towards convenience, with everything being either snack food or something prepared quickly. I found it interesting that the shopper was very specific about certain snack food items but less specific with other staples. I'm guessing this shopper is young, single and probably male. His next stop is the beer distributor.
The next list was written on the back of a piece of cardboard from a multi-pack of Hi-C strawberry-kiwi-flavored drinks. The list has a little scribble next to it, possibly done by a youngster.
- Fionas cream
- juice for Fiona
This abbreviated list appears to be a midweek secondary shop for a few key items which have run low. While some of the items appear to be sandwich makings, there's also a few items which are just for one family member, Fiona. I'm guessing that Fiona is a young girl and that the Hi-C was for her. This shopper is probably a mother, picking up some necessities to keep herself and her daughter well fed (and protected from the sun).
The next list is written on a torn portion of a book, possibly a coloring book.
- Potato (Gaint)
- Dishwashing soap
- Southwest seaning
- Pine Sol Lemon
- Part Tart
- Gallon Bleach
I must confess I was initially mystified by several items on this list, though I'm assuming the shopper was looking for a giant potato, rather than a "gaint" potato. Likewise "southwest seaning" appears to be a misspelling of "southwest seasoning." I'm not sure what "part tarts" are, but maybe that's a mistake for "Pop Tarts." The English geek in me found it amusing that the shopper attempted to spell "cereal" three times. Given what the list was written on, the shopper is probably a parent, picking up a few items to go with dinner (potato and cabbage, southwest seasoning) but planning to spend most of the day cleaning. After all, it is spring.
In red ink on a torn square of white paper is a very simple list:
2 box potatos
2 can pineapple Juice
1 can bisciutes
1 can of corn
These items look like they're for a specific meal, which will consist of instant mashed potatoes, biscuits, corn, some sort of main dish, and I'm guessing a sweet dessert. Whoever this person is, they're clearly not on the Atkins Diet. Almost everything on this list is full of carbs. It's going to be a very white and yellow plate.
On a rectangle of paper from a yellow legal pad, a very short list, to be filled at the 7-Eleven, which is written in a bubble up top.
5.10 1 - 24 COUNT BOTTLE ALEVE
2 00 TOOTHPASTE
The shopper has added the price of these items. Whether that was done ahead of time or after the fact, I'm not sure. Perhaps the shopper was trying to keep track of expenses. It's kind of interesting that the total of these two items comes to nearly the same as the name of the convenience store.
A small piece of paper bearing only one word, "Milk," is more of a reminder than an actual list. It had been taped to something, and the top half of the tape still stuck up. What makes this item interesting is the paper it's written on: the back of a package for a 60 cc catheter tip syringe.
A Google search reveals that this sort of syringe is used for feeding and irrigation. It's used to assist people who need help eating and who need to eat thickened or pureed food. Most likely, the person who left this reminder is a caregiver for someone who needs home care.
The next list is written on the back of a piece of paper that says "Things To Do" at the top, with the name of a Catholic School at the bottom.
This list appears to come from a somewhat health-conscious mother. In addition to fruit, the list also contains "kid water," which probably refers to Nui Kid Water, an all-natural, low-sugar beverage sweetened and flavored with real juice, with additional nutrients added. In the same way, Gatorade could be considered a healthy alternative to soda. This mother isn't afraid of including a little fat in the diet, such as cream cheese, but she's buying snack-sized Doritos, rather than a large bag. It's been shown that people eat less per sitting when given a smaller sealed bag, rather than dipping into a large one.
Another short list is written in Sharpie on a 3-by-5 card, perhaps the only writing materials available to the shopper at the time. Does that mean this was written in an office, right before heading home?
Black hair 2
Big hair pins
This shopper appears to be an African-American woman who needs to pick up some hair care products. Perhaps she's planning an updo for a special occasion, which could be why she's purchasing "big hair pins." She's also a commuter, writing "Tranpass" almost as an afterthought. That's a mistake for "Transpass," the monthly discount pass you can purchase from SEPTA for public transportation in southeastern Pennsylvania.
I'll end with a short one, written on a scrap of paper with a black marker and containing only two items:
Simple as it seems, this list could mean a couple different things. The soup bowls could be disposable plastic ones, purchased from the grocery store, or they could be actual soup bowls, purchased from a department store or specialty store. "Covers" confused me, because I was trying to imagine where you could buy covers for, say, pots and pans, separately from the pots and pans. Then I realized that it probably meant "covers" as in blankets. This could very well be a short list for Bed, Bath and Beyond, that somewhere along the way, got beyond the reach of the shopper.
I've found several more lists which I'll share in a future entry. In the meantime, content yourself with playing Shopping Cart on your next visit to the grocery store.
You can tell a lot about someone from a shopping list.