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Do you find people who eat at the grocery while shopping rude?


I'm not really a prude - and while I do shop at gormet grocery stores somewhat regularly, my "go to" grocer is a chain - as in there are many all over the region I live in. So that said, I hardly expect Emily Post manners in the grocery store. But ON THE OTHER HAND - after seeing someone in sweats and flip flops eating Cheez-its while they shopped (acting as if they had paid for them already) the whole idea of eating while you grocery shop really got on my nerves. For one thing, I think you should PAY and then EAT. For another thing, there seems to be something unsanitary and about someone with their hand in a cracker box as they handle items in the market. And finally, and OK, this probably DOES sound prudish, it seems extremely slovenly and self indulgent. It reminds me of sitting in front of the stove and eating while you cook. What do all of you think?

  1. rude...? no, something I would do...? no.

    1. I don't think I would eat while I shop, but I have opened drinks and drank them while shopping. I pay for them later, of course.

      Would it matter to you if it's an adult or a child? I have vague memories of being given animal crackers and eating a few while going shopping with my parents as a child.

      1. it does not bother jfood at all as long as they pay for it.

        And anyone who pushes a cart and eats with those same hands should google on the cleanliness, or lack thereof, of the cart handles. You would be amazed and totally refrain from ever eating, or thinking about putting your hands anywhere near your mouth after reading those articles.

        5 Replies
        1. re: jfood

          Interesting - I really thought more people would be bothered by it. In response to akq - I kind of think of the child animal cracker scenario as the exception to the rule. I know many little kids need to eat frequently, and if it keeps them settled, that seems OK - but I would still say that I think you should only open an item after you buy it.

          1. re: SamuelAt

            Why does the sequence matter? You eat in a restaurant before you pay.

            1. re: jfood

              In a restaurant you are expected to eat before you pay. You also pay to be served at a restaurant. In a grocery, you are in a store that is not meant to be an environment to eat in, and is a shop - a place where you select items, pay for them, and leave. Unless there is seating for dining.

              1. re: SamuelAt

                then why do they give samples? And why do they serve coffee?

                Hey, you do not want to eat in a grocer, go for it. But if the grocer does not care why should the other patrons be the police?

                1. re: jfood

                  When I enter the grocery store, as a courtesy, they always have a plastic canister with antibacterial wipes. I wipe down the grocery cart and my son's little hands. During the visit, I almost always open up something just so he won't scream his little head off. He is too young to understand why he cannot have the Nilla wafers NOW. It keeps him and the rest of the patrons happy. There have been times where he wanted a banana, that can get a little tricky since the cost is determined by weight. I have told the cashier to run a single banana threw twice and have not felt guilty. I rarely see adults eating in the grocery store unless it is for sampling. It doesn't bother me. What does bother me is when they make a meal out of the sampling, now that is rude.

        2. I don't do it myself (unless I grab a bottle of water from the chilled drinks section), but I have opened up a pack of crackers or something to appease one (or both) of my kids and stop them from whining that they are tired of shopping and want to go home. LOL

          1 Reply
          1. re: boogiebaby

            That's fair enough. Kids can be a handful!

          2. I don't find it rude. I guess I never thought you could do that before my roommate took a pepsi out of a fridge in the grocery store and started drinking it. I gasped thinking that was "illegal" but then I got used to the idea.

            I'm confused by your use of the word "prude"

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chew on That

              What confused you about the reference? It's someone who is excessively modest or proper...

            2. Gotta share this story...

              At a grocery in CA, I heard the cashiers talking about the woman who just ate a banana, handed over the skin and said weigh it and she'd pay for it.

              I just smiled until the cashier said "then I told her, 'but it's all gone'". I think I broke something keeping it in at that point.


              1 Reply
              1. re: tomishungry

                LOL!! Funny story. Guess that's another case against doing it.

              2. I was getting some olives at the olive bar the other day in my local store and watched a woman, walk up and take a couple of olives and eat them! I actually made eye contact with her as she did it, but didn't say anything. She then walked over to the deli and placed her order for whatever it was she was having. She didn't seemed fazed that I had "caught" her.

                That is what bothers me! Same with mothers letting their children eat out of the bulk bins like they were free! Not to mention the grimy little hands that are reaching in. Don't get me wrong, I love kids but the parents should be spanked.

                I am actually OK with people eating in the store. Don't see it to often and have been guilty once or twice myself, when starving, to get something to nibble on while I shop but I do pay for it at the checkout. I definitely don't make it a habit though and try to eat before shopping if I am hungry, just so I don't buy the entire store.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jodymaryk

                  This is exactly why I don't buy foods from the "self serve" deli counters. I've seen this happen several times where people just reach in to sample something. People picking up cucumber slices, olives, croutons, etc. I go to Whole Foods sometimes and I've seen it happen there several times, as well as with the olives at Gelson's. I don't know where their hands have been, and they are touching the food that I'm supposed to buy and eat? No thanks.

                  I buy sealed olives or olives from a store where they keep them behind the counter or in a deli case.

                2. I kind of find it sloppy and annoying too. Like, can't you wait? With a drink I can kind of understand it as I get dehydrated easily and always like to have something to drink nearby, but to me it's just another sign of the death of decorum. People slopping around in their bedclothes and noisy slap-slap of the flip flops while they suck on giant sodas and cram down chips just seems to be part of the American culture. Thankfully, I mostly avoid the large chain groceries where this seems to be prevalent.

                  26 Replies
                  1. re: rockandroller1

                    This is really a double standard. It's okay for you to have a drink but not for others to have a bite? What if they have low blood sugar and need to eat to prevent themselves from fainting, would that be acceptable?

                    1. re: KTinNYC

                      If you have a blood sugar problem, shouldn't you have your own food on you?

                      1. re: SamuelAt

                        As a type 1 diabetic, sometimes you don't have sugar or you don't remember that you do. When you are having a low blood sugar episode you can get VERY confused. I once had an episode in Target and I found the candy aisle and then just stood and stared at the candy and then just started to cry. A neighbor spotted me and came to my rescue. She opened a candy bar and a couple of bites into it and I was fine. I then paid for it at checkout.

                        I do understand your irritation w/ it though, generally speaking. There seems to be no personal limitations anymore. People change their child's diaper on a bench in a public place, talk on cell phones while using the restroom, watch personal dvd players in restaurants. It's all the same... just a basic lack of courtesy and manners. I once saw a grocer stocking apples and he paused, stuck his finger in his ear and scratched around and then went back to stocking apples. I can't shop there anymore.

                        I seem to have more tolerance for children eating a box of crackers though. Go figure.

                        1. re: lynnlato

                          Hi Lynn,

                          I totally understand that situation. If it's medical - you need to eat - that's a fact. I am talking more about people who just don't seem to mind "doing their own thing" because they can.

                          1. re: lynnlato

                            I think the children thing is totally understandable...it's just that, they are children. They generally don't have as much patience as adults, so i think it is fine if they need a small snack to tide them over while their parents are shopping. And i also would understand people in your case...if you have a medical condition, then definitely do what you need to take care of yourself. I guess that is what makes it hard to judge b/c you just never know why a person may be chowing down in the grocery store. I wouldn't do it and i don't think it is particularly polite to do it, but i guess should hold judgment when i see people doing it.

                            1. re: lynnlato

                              Lynn, I was going to say something similar. The only time I've consumed something at the grocery store without paying first is a couple of times when I've glugged orange juice, knowing that if I tried to pay for it first, I'd probably be incoherent by the time I got to the head of the line.

                              Looked at objectively, I don't see anything wrong with paying for something after you've consumed it -- as long as it's something that doesn't need to be weighed in order to be priced. But years ago, when I went to the grocery store with someone I didn't know well, I was shocked when he started pulling things off the shelves and saying "Here, try this." He paid for everything, but I was really floored; I'd never seen someone do that before.

                            2. re: SamuelAt

                              I sure do understand what your saying. I am a diabetic, also, and I know there have been times when I have flown out of my office looking for a piece of candy somewhere because I could feel my blood sugar dropping. When it gets low and you feel faint you just grab what's available.
                              I also understand parents giving the kiddo's a snack at the grocery store.
                              I don't think its kosher for an able bodied adult to walk around eating something they haven't bought yet. It just looks creepy to me.

                            3. re: KTinNYC

                              It's not a double standard, and I can tell you we are NOT talking about people who are diabetic.

                              A store is not a restaurant, and sloppy frat guys tipping up the Dorito bag into their mouths are not suffering from low blood sugar. Maybe you just don't have the offensive people where you shop.

                              And when I said I might have a water with me, it certainly wouldn't be something I would buy from the store and then consume as I go along. I just think that's wrong. And I only carry water with me when I go to a farmer's market, not an inside grocery store, which I've usually driven to, and thus have water in my car that I consume before and after shopping.

                              I'll admit to shopping making me hungry and perhaps breaking into a bag of chips before getting home while in the relative privacy of my car, but I think people snarfing down big bags of doritos and stuff while shopping is just nasty. You're allowed to disagree, but it doesn't invalidate that that's the way I feel.

                              1. re: rockandroller1

                                Maybe that's it. jfood rarely sees people eating at his normal grocer, but when he does, they are very careful as they eat, and very discrete, not sucking on the doritos bag .

                                So maybe it's the people that jfood has seen eat that creates his no biggie attitude.

                                1. re: jfood

                                  Same here. I guess what I see isn't very offensive.

                                  1. re: jfood

                                    I shop in places sometimes that give out samples. That I consider discreet, normal snacking. They take the sample, stand by the sample table and decide whether or not they like it, then dispose of the cup or toothpick or whatever. I promise you that's not the same as what I'm talking about. People that rip open a large package of bags that have "100 calories" oreos and proceed to eat one after the other, continuing to push their cart up and down the aisles, and usually talking on the phone WHILE they eat to boot. I'm sure they're the same people who are on the phone in the movie theatre. Perhaps it's a club to unseat polite people's insanity in public.

                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                      oh just the image of the person standing in the middle of the aisle with their cart parked horizontally staring at heaven knows what while chatting on the phone about what they are going to wear that night!

                                      geez - I wish I hadn't read this because I'm actually off to the store right now and my blood is already boiling!!

                                      1. re: chicaraleigh

                                        YES! Phones can be so distracting - sometimes I feel like yelling "heads up!" when people are about to walk into me while they chat.

                                  2. re: rockandroller1

                                    Sorry but I respectfully disagree. Being a diabetic, there have been many times when I need to drink something because of extreme thirst, especially in the hot humid summer, and I have grabbed a bottle of water while in the grocery store and, yes, probably stood in one spot for a minute guzzling it down.
                                    I am over 50 and the summer months are brutal with the humidity in St. Louis. I'm too old to be worried about what other people may think of me as they walk by.

                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                      "when I said I might have a water with me"

                                      But you didn't say that. You said: "With a drink I can kind of understand it as I get dehydrated easily"

                                      Take my word for it, as a man who has portrayed a physician on stage, you are not getting "dehydrated" during your shopping trip, you are just getting thirsty.

                                      Saying you are getting dehydrated so you can glug down a few ounces of your beverage of choice is merely rationalization - you want to separate yourself from others who engage in the same sorts of behavior as you do.

                                      1. re: FrankJBN

                                        You're wrong, Frank. And since you mentioned it, I will be graphic. I had to have my entire large intestine and rectum removed some years ago. Everyone who has the surgery I have had is under a much higher than normal risk for dehydration. I am hospitalized for rehydration at least twice a year. It's not just normal THIRST.

                                        1. re: FrankJBN

                                          Take my word for it, as a man who has portrayed a physician on stage
                                          You are not seriously using this as a valid reason for determining on a message board whether someone is thirsty vs. dehydrated?

                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                            That's kind of what i was wondering. Was that supposed to be a joke about how portraying a physician on stage makes you qualified to give medical opinions?

                                            1. re: iluvtennis

                                              Does it matter? With all due respect to Rockandroller, the people who have chimed in and spoken about eating and drinnking in the grocery because they are in dire need are the EXCEPTION. And of course, they need to do what they need to do! The OP is really about the people who eat foods and beverages "because they can" not "because they have to".

                                              1. re: SamuelAt

                                                I agree samuelAt, but I didn't like the implication that I was fabricating a reason to keep hydrated while shopping as a "rationalization." I'm sorry, but I just bristle at that.

                                          2. re: FrankJBN

                                            "Take my word for it, as a man who has portrayed a physician on stage, you are not getting "dehydrated" during your shopping trip, you are just getting thirsty"

                                            Thank you so much for placing the other items you and jfood have disagreed on in perspective. He feels so much better.

                                            Now if he can only find someone to buy his Elvis impersonator autographs. :-))

                                            1. re: jfood

                                              can i chime in if i stayed at a holiday inn express last night?

                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                As someone who has stayed at that fine, clean and reliable establishement your thoughts are welcome.

                                              2. re: jfood

                                                impersonated autographs !?!?!

                                                1. re: hill food

                                                  oh hill food! just get out your ivory soap and scrub away those nasty thoughts! ;-)

                                      2. I've done it a few times if I'm really hungry. I know that if I shop while I'm starving I'll just buy a bunch of crap, because it all looks good right then. Instead I'll swing by the deli, get a little container of pasta salad and a plastic fork, and I'm good to go.

                                        1. Rude no - tacky yes. But then I think eating while walking a tad strange anyway. Even when is food ordered on the street it doesn't mean it's meant to to be eaten while walking. I don't want to see people chewing while also doing their shopping, pushing their cart, and grabbing other food with their dirty fingers (or on the street - walking, talking, dodging other people).

                                          Although I haven't, drinks seem more acceptable.

                                          With kids - all bets are off! Just keep them quiet!

                                          1. What jfood really likes about this thread is that several posters are so against it except for the carve outs they do, i.e a little sip of water, a drink because i'm thirsty, some cookies for the kiddies.

                                            Thanks for the laughs.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: jfood

                                              I'll carve out anything to keep someone's kids quiet while I'm shopping (or on the plane, subway, movies, etc).

                                              1. re: alwayscooking

                                                Couldn't agree with you more, but it's a directional thing, you do it, it's no good; i do it, i have justification.

                                                Back to the entitlement syndrome

                                                1. re: jfood

                                                  Not quite sure what you mean about entitlement - I'm not keeping the kids quiet (they aren't with me), I just want parents to keep their kids quiet even if they have to stuff their faces with food while in public places.

                                                  Nor do I eat or drink while shopping since I'm way too focused to get my things and get out. A store is not a pleasant dining room.

                                                  jfood - what about you? ever done it in a store?

                                              2. re: jfood

                                                LOL, true enough Jfood. But as the poster, I'll stick to my story: against it.

                                              3. i have once or twice drunk a chilled drink if i was parched.

                                                i haven't really seen people chowing at the grocery. what i hate: people who shuffle their feet, or slap-slap their flip-flops. or screaming kids who are only doing it for fun (oh yes they do!) and mom or dad doesn't bat an eye nor ask them to be quiet. the old evil eye usually shuts them up. i know. review the store surveillance tapes from my trip to shoppers food warehouse last night! ;-D

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                  I don;t find it terribky rude, unless they are the egregous pair that I came across in my produce section a few weeks ago. My store had a display of strawberries in baskets, with the plastic tops, both large and small, and a few flats of strawberries as well. This couple was standing in front of the display, eating the strawberries from the open flat, with the woman commenting that they really weren't very sweet .. to have the man with her walk over and continuing the grazing of the strawberries! They were there even after I made my round to the dairy section, sampling away.

                                                  1. re: lrostron

                                                    oh, that reminds me: some guy was opening the strawberry clamshells, changing out berries from one to another, and (undoubtedly) overstuffing the box he eventually put inside a plastic produce bag (to disguise his thievery). i tried to catch his eye to call him out, but somehow, despite the fact i was the only other person in the produce dep. at 9:30 p.m. next to and across from him in the shoppers food warehouse massive produce section, he *just did not see me*! isn't that remarkable?

                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                      LOL! my ex used to do this and it used to drive me nuts.....my thought was for heaven's sake - just buy 2 and throw the bad ones away, this isn't the pick your own field!

                                                2. here in sunny So Fla there is a gourmet food store called the Boys. Full of character, packed to the gills and watch your feet and ankles or they will be bruised and or run over.

                                                  However, they cut up bits of tasters and leave them in strategic areas - cheese cubes, crackers, pinneapple, plums, bread cubes, etc. The local oldies (sorry not being ageist here - ok well only a bit) come to The Boys for their mid morning snack. My dad, when visiting thought it was fab to go noshing while you shop! One day I saw a man spit his cherry pit out onto the floor which was pretty disgusting.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: smartie

                                                    Well, at least the charming couple I witnessed stashed the stems from the berries in a fairly decent way ... into their grocery cart, where they fell to the floor.

                                                    1. re: smartie

                                                      That's an interesting caveat - I mean, they put out samples so you are meant to try it. However, that is the thing - TRY it. If you like it, buy some, and have more at home. It's not a buffet.

                                                      1. re: SamuelAt


                                                        You have to live through The Boys to understand the dynamics. Here is a place that is the size of a corner grocer, stuffed to the gills with stuff and narrow aisles. Enter 400000000000 elderly people, many upset because all the handicapped spots were taken. They grab a cart and are hell bent on trying everything and buying something. If your lower body survives the fruit section you approach the back for some prepared stuff. Pray for your life now. Grab what you can and work your way to the cashiers. Pay leave and hope to survive the parking lot. Always park as far away as possible or you will pay, oh will you pay.

                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                          yes jfood you obviously have been there!! I live about 4 mins drive from The Boys. I was there last week and had my feet run over 8 times, my ankles hit 47 times and it's impossible to get to the cheese counter because everyone is sampling cheese cubes. Everyone is standing at the pinneapple guy sampling that and then everyone stands round the canteloupe lady. It's a nightmare but a Delray Beach tradition. And their food is darned good so I may chance my limbs and go tomorrow.

                                                    2. I've gotten used to seeing people eat and drink at supermarkets here. Now I'm not so bothered. I do get upset when I see people eating fruit or when I see an empty container on the shelves. Especially because the better-off of Colombia shop at these markets.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                        It doesn't bother me until that moment when I see half eaten containers of food stashed on a shelf.
                                                        Sometimes if I am shopping and REALLY quite hungry/thirsty I'll go to the deli. Here they give you samples and small cups
                                                        for water from the coke fountain. Many times they have stations in different departments, cooking up treats to sample.
                                                        Then you notice some ass thought it was clever to wedge their filty, half empty sample cup and spoon between
                                                        2 cans of chichi beans. Or their used toothpicks-gaaaaaaaa I can't stand that. Ok maybe I'm in favor of NO ONE EVER EATING while

                                                        1. re: Boccone Dolce

                                                          No, I see not sample cups and toothpicks, but empty mechandise containers and wrappers.

                                                      2. I've drank a beverage while shopping once or twice, but I've paid for it first. I would be worried that the store would accuse me of theft if I didn't pay upfront. Yes, I am paranoid.

                                                        1. This has opened up a couple of different thoughts for me. I wish I could say that I have never opened up a pack of something at the store as a "hold me over' but I can say that I have never strolled through the aisles munching on anything. My mother would tan my hide if she ever caught me doing something like that!

                                                          Have I have sampled items at the grocery store, sure! Like olives for example - we get a rotating selection in the bulk section of my local grocery store - how do I know what they taste like if I don't taste them? Additionally I will absolutely sample a berry and who isn't guilty of eating a berry or two at the local berry patch before buying? And at the deli counter, I'm almost always offered a sample of anything that I'm considering. Where I draw the line at "sampling" is when someone is intentionally noshing on a bulk or per pound item like the banana story....that's just seems like stealing to me.

                                                          As to pre-packed UPC items like crackers, cookies, chips and the like - I don't really see how that's any different than grabbing a water or soda, drinking while you shop, and paying for it with the rest of your order. The exception of course would be if you open the box, eat a cracker and then put it back on the shelf.

                                                          I know some would say that my idea of sampling produce or deli items is paramount to sampling a cracker or cookie or chip but I grew up in a community where you went to the farmers market (or the farm!) to buy your produce or local grocers who knew your name and were happy and proud of their distinct offerings. For me, it's more of a cultural thing where I lived in a small town where we didn't have a "super market".

                                                          So, to give my opinion on the question at hand, yes I think cruising the aisles chomping away on a smorgasbord of food is distasteful. And if the intent is to leave the empty or nearly empty box behind on a store shelf - well, that's just plain immoral. As for the sanitary issues.....well it's their box of crackers isn't it?

                                                          One thing that I don't understand is the disdain for flip flops?!? I personally love them whether I'm sampling or not :)

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: chicaraleigh

                                                            I think a sample offered by your deli person or available at a display is meant to be tried. Those are out on a serving tray or similar to partake in and decide if you would like to buy. The only rule to break there is if you try it - again and again. The point of a display is a teaser - you like? You buy your own. Like a car showroom. Dried goods in sealed packages? Those are not meant for eating prior to purchase. Have some self control (medical conditions pardoned) and eat in your own environment. Sure, crack them open in your car if you want to - but do as the store intended - put them in your cart, buy them, and then eat them. Produce is a little more of a gray area - sure - want to know what that grape tastes like - want to know if that olive is good - but even so - it's no more of a roll of the dice than a new cracker you don't have open. These are fine points - but they all seem to indicate a lack of decorum.

                                                          2. Hmm, would it be different at a farmer's market where people are nibbling on the fruit, veggies and bread they've bought while going from stall to stall?

                                                            14 Replies
                                                            1. re: Jase

                                                              I would say yes, it is different - because they've already purchased it at the farmer's market.

                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                You know, I don't think the "already purchased it" argument is valid, except for items which are priced by weight. That's a simple answer but not really persuasive.

                                                                To me, the farmer's market is a mix of a commercial and a social setting which centers on the joyfulness of great fresh food, so yes, eating there seems acceptable, because it's a tacit acknowledgment of the greatness of the bounty. A supermarket is not a social setting. I can't think of an analogy, but to my mind there is a difference.

                                                                1. re: lisavf

                                                                  I'm looking at it only in the context of "it's been purchased already, so the purchaser can eat it", not the social setting. That is the only point I was making to Jase.

                                                                  The OP was speaking about people in a supermarket who take a package of Doritos, a bunch of grapes, a box of Cheerios - whatever - and are eating it while they finish their shopping. They haven't yet paid for it. Whereas at a farmer's market - they've paid for it, so they can eat it.

                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    but if they keep the bag from the doritos and pay , what difference does it make?

                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                      What's the difference? Because it doesn't *belong* to the person who picked the bag of Doritos off the shelf and opened it up and ate it. It doesn't *belong* to them until *after* they've paid for it.

                                                                      At a Farmer's Market, you don't walk amongst the various vendors, picking out what you want, and then pay for it at the end. Why should anyone be allowed to do so at a supermarket?

                                                                      And based on the number of posters here who have seen "supermarket garbage" stuffed into other shelves throughout the supermarket, how much actually *does* get paid for?

                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit


                                                                        Not to be argumentative, but there is probably an implicit purchase if someone eats it while shopping with the intent to pay for it when they check out. The slugs who eat and leave their trash and then not pay are just the trash of society. Let's not base opinion on the lowest forms of life.

                                                                        But according to your logic, if jfood sees the last whole chicken in someone else's cart and needs one for dinner, what the heck since the other person does not own it, then jfood can take it. Sorta a stupid logic, but either poossession passes when it leaves the shelf into the hand of the customer or it doesn't.

                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                          I absolutely understand the implied purchase (especially when it's in another shopper's cart, so I don't agree with you saying you can shop out of someone else's cart based on my logic).

                                                                          But I guess I'm looking at it in a black and white view - I don't see a gray area here, although there obvious *is* one. Until it's paid for, it's not yours. Which means (IMHO) you shouldn't eat it prior to having paid for it.

                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                            Linda, is your only objection to the fact that it hasn't been paid for, plain and simple? And if they paid for the bag of Doritos first, then walked around the store to buy other things while eating that same bag of Doritos, you would have no problem with that? If so, that's your opinion, and it's a fair position to take.

                                                                            1. re: lisavf

                                                                              Yes. If someone wants to go through the time and trouble to pay for something at the beginning of their shopping trip and THEN open it up and eat it, go right ahead.

                                                                              Would I do that? No.

                                                                              Unless it was a medical emergency, I cannot see why someone cannot wait the 20-30 minutes to finish shopping and walk out to your car and eat whatever it was that they just HAD to eat right away.

                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                This might be one of my aversions to eating in a store. My father used to do that. He'd buy something and then eat it while my mom shopped. He didn't shop, just walked around. I had this fear people would stop him and arrest him (I was a kid).

                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  I agree w/ you, however supermarkets have basicly given people the green light to do this. If they would've put the brakes on long ago we wouldn't have this problem.

                                                                                  They could simply approach an "offender" and politely say "we kindly ask that you refrain from eating in the store."

                                                                                  1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                    Completely agree that the supermarket(s) themselves have only added to the problem. However, it still goes back to the "it's all about me" attitude on the part of the shopper: "I'm going to do whatever I want and no one's going to stop me." And the supermarket doesn't stop them, so others do the same thing.

                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                      I agree Linda. I mean, the "buy it first" part seems pretty obvious to me. It's as simple as I don't own it until I buy it. And regarding eating while you shop and manners - I think it definitely is an "it's all about me" attitude. Therefore nut just tacky, but rude. You can spill food and drinks on merchandise, the floor etc., especially if you are also wheeling a cart around! What's next - flossing at the drugstore because it's there and you can?

                                                                                      1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                        all these last few comments presume it IS a problem in the 1st place, which is what we have not agreed upon yet in this thread. if it isn't a problem, then it isn't about an "all about me" attitude at all. It's about doing something that isn't a problem

                                                              2. tell me, would it bother you less if they were in a tuxedo instead of sweats and flip flops?

                                                                for me, i don;t worry about what other people do, as long as they are not harming anyone.
                                                                and seriously, you never popped a grape in your mouth at the market?

                                                                6 Replies
                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                  I'm not a big fan of elastic waist bands and flip flops, but I don't care what people wear to the grocery. The clothes have nothing to do with what i am saying - although I will say that I threw them in my topic above because it ws what she was wearing and seemed to further emphasize the casual attitude.

                                                                  1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                    You are 100% correct, Samuel. There is a "me first" arrogance that permeates our society. Have you ever had someone cut into line at a grocery store check-out lane, or at a movie theater? I haven't. And, I suspect that those who might have an idea of cutting into line have a healthy fear of a verbal or physical response. But, while traffic merges, because a lane is closed, people cut into line all the time. Everyone else has gotten into line, and wait their turn. But, there are always those who race down the closed lane, right up to the traffic cones, and elbow there way into line.................because when they are in their car, they are invisible. People who eat food that they haven't paid for yet are thieves, pure and simple. And, I don't care if they intend to pay for it or not. I see it from time to time, and I just accept the fact that they have not one ounce of class. But, that was the way I was raised.

                                                                    1. re: dhedges53

                                                                      they are not "thieves" until they exit the store without paying.


                                                                      1. re: dhedges53

                                                                        Very true dhedges - I have seen that on the road and thought the same thing.

                                                                        1. re: dhedges53

                                                                          "But, that was the way I was raised"
                                                                          I was raised the same way, and I don't like to see people eating while shopping. To me it looks very low-class. Why not finish shopping and then eat your purchases? There's something very tacky (to me) about walking around a store and eating at the same time. I'm not talking about the legality of it - it just seems unsanitary and (again, to me) smacks of a lack of concern for others.

                                                                      2. re: thew

                                                                        Never. It is unwashed when still in the store. Who knows what dirty, contaminated hands were touching the grape you just popped in your mouth?

                                                                      3. Having worked in the grocery industry for about thirty years, cashier , stocker, manager,merchandiser,and buyer.
                                                                        You would be absolutely amazed at to what SOME people think the are "entitled to".
                                                                        You would also be amazed at what people "hide" on shelves..apple cores, banana peels,empty containers of every type.
                                                                        I have had people return strawberry hulls and say the strawberries weren't sweet enough, had T-bone steaks(bone only) returned"It was tough".
                                                                        The company I worked for adhered to rule #1 and we managers had no descretion to argue.
                                                                        Any complaints "the customer isn't always right, but they are always the customer"

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Hue

                                                                          Funny story! I worked in a clthing store with the same policy - and sometime ran into the same attitude! Once someone brought in socks purchased a year before for credit because they had holes in them. I had to grind my teeth and take them back for credit!

                                                                        2. I wonder how much of this sampling behavior is attributed to the now popular sample tables encouraging the public to "try it before buying it"..afterall, you go to Costco and nibble up and down the aisles. Costco believes that offering a sample of anything will encourage sales.

                                                                          and so your food shopping day continues at the Stop & Shop deli where the attendant hands you a thin slice of bologna to confirm your delighted with the thin slice...then you head over to produce where the melon has been cut into cubes for tasting and to prove its ripe...so by the time your shopping day is done you're full, you've been sampling to your hearts content and you've learned that sampling is part of the new normal in food shopping.

                                                                          Can sampling be bad for your health, teach poor manners, start one habit while you adopt another, be taken to the extreme and justify what should be obvious...yes, yes, yes.

                                                                          Is it rude? I think it illustrates a learned behavior and I think some people just don't care if their grazing or eating before buying is poor form or not. Even with my own children I bring a snack with me. But I'm not the shopping police and I don't want to turn my shopping trip into a confrontational experience.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                            Good points - although I think that people who eat a sample provided at a display know that the bag of sealed chips is not also a sample when they open it. But those displays perhaps do lead to a link between the 2.

                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                              But I don't think offering samples is a new practice. It was probably even more common in the days before everything was standardized and/or prepackaged.

                                                                            2. Well SamuelAt, I have to say that since I got up at 6 am this morning and was at the Big "Y" (local supermarket chain) at 7am and then proceeded to the coffee shop to grab a large dark roast and a chocolate muffin, which I ate while shopping - NO!!!!!

                                                                              I really had no idea that some people would find me rude, slovenly and self-indulgent because I had my breakfast in the grocery store while I shopped.

                                                                              Personally, I think some people are just a little too judgemental of other people and should take a quick peek in the mirror at their own behavior and language choices before they post.

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: NE_Elaine

                                                                                NE Elaine, you bring up a great illustration. More & more grocery stores have coffee cafes in them now where you can buy a java & scone and eat in the store while shopping. The imprinted coffee cup and cafe paper wrapper send the clear message that you bought these items inside the store while shopping. Not the same issue. And, since cafes inside grocery stores is (also) becoming more common the "new nomal" in how we adjust as shoppers is subtle. Life is interesting!

                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                  Hi HillJ, if you read the OP - his issue was with people eating while shopping and before they had paid, which is exactly what I was doing. At my store, you have the option of paying at the grocery register when your shopping is done, which is what I generally the option that I choose.

                                                                                  I agree with you that life is interesting and the tolerant we are, the better we all get along.


                                                                                  1. re: NE_Elaine

                                                                                    Hi NE Elaine. I am just stating my opinion - and curious what other people think. It seems people are divided on this one. But regardless, it's just an opinion. I think we are all tolerant. I never would say something to make someone feel bad in the situation I mention in the OP. I do think in walking around as you describe you could spill crumbs and coffee all over merchandise and the floor as you shop and eat, so I stick to my opinion.

                                                                                    1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                      "as you describe you could spill crumbs and coffee all over merchandise and the floor as you shop and eat, so I stick to my opinion."

                                                                                      Interesting observation SameulAt, when so many grocery stores and markets sell coffee and snacks to customers while shopping. I see plenty of wrappers & empty cups that didn't quite make it to the garbage can...but the stores are adding cafes to their on site services which in part creates the opportunity for the mess you describe. So what's the answer accept to hope that the majority of shoppers aren't rude. No easy answer.

                                                                              2. For what it's worth......

                                                                                Those who feel free to help themselves, consider this:



                                                                                1. The situation you descrbed would probably gross me out a little, but I can't say I've never done it. When i get too hungry I get dizzy and faint pretty fast so two times I can think of I've grabbed a Pria bar and eaten it in the store. I felt a little funny, but I would have felt even more awkward fainting in the middle of the grocery. I try to be discreet, but not too discreet because I'd hate to have someone think i was trying to shoplift.


                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: ArikaDawn

                                                                                    Since reading this thread I've begun paying much closer attention. Yesterday at the grocery I did't notice anyone eating while I was shopping, but then I got in the check out line. The grocery was pretty packed, the post-church rush, so there was a bit of a wait. There was one woman in front of me and then a woman got in line behind me. The woman behind me had a cart full of junk and proceeded to grab a small bag of Funyuns(sp?) off the display at the end of the checkout line and inhale them. It wouldn't have been so terrible were she not sucking on herfingers the whole time then loading things onto the belt that the cashier then had to handle. There was not a single piece of produce in her purchases and she was quite overweight. I can't say I wasn't totally grossed out, but it's not against the rule of the stores.

                                                                                    Before anyone starts to attack. Yes, she could have gotten all her produce at a farmers market and already have it at home. She could have blood sugar issues like I and had to eat something(though she didnt need to suck on her fingers). No, I am not saying all who snack in stores are overweight and impolite. Blah, blah, blah.

                                                                                  2. To my mind, it evinces one of two different things: lack of self-control, self-awareness and good manners (the Cheese-Its nosher) or pretention (the coffee drinker). I mean, is it really not possible to go for an hour or two without food or drink? Seriously, I rarely eat or drink anything between meals. I don't get it. But as long as they pay for what they're consuming and don't bother me with their messes (crumbs, spilled coffee, etc.), I consider it none of my business. OF COURSE, I'm not speaking of those with medical needs, but we all know they are the vast minority here. No one needs coffee for medical reasons, or Cheese-Its, either, for that matter.

                                                                                    1. I've never done it, not even a grape, nor have I let my kids do it, even as babies. One sample, at most, and no more, if there are samples. And, for the most part, we only try samples that we might buy. I had a produce person encourage me to try a fig, though it wasn't a sample, and I didn't. I feel funny about it. That said, I don't care what others do, as long as they pay for it. Otherwise, it's theft.

                                                                                      But, I am guilty of the flipflops (I buy special ones w/ extra support) and I have unattractive runners feet. And, I do eat as I cook. It's how I can tell if it's right or not--new spoons, never double dip. If I'm hungry, I'll have some munchies, cut vegetables, whatever. Does anyone get through cooking a meal w/out ever tasting something?

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                        Nope, I've never eaten a grape, or a strawberry or whatever, unless I was too small to remember doing it. Agree with the PP that states they are unwashed and honestly, what are you going to do, take one grape from 20 different bags til you find one you like? And ALL the grapes in that bag/bunch are going to taste like the one you tasted? What's the point?

                                                                                        1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                          It often a MUST with kids, so I have given mine snack sizes of crackers, etc and paid on the way out. It keeps them quiet and occupies their little hands from grabbing the junk that is placed at their level to grab. My old store where I was a regular for years now is closed, but they'd lay deli samples and even shrimp and California rolls on my daughter. Once in a while I would give her an apple or something, wash it in the water fountain and grab an extra for them to weigh so I could pay for it and give back to them. Often they'd refuse. Maybe they were grateful they didn't have another screaming toddler. I have also been known to grab a few bulk unshelled nuts, but only a taste.

                                                                                          And sometimes it takes a cappuccino to make it through the store, but I hate people who leave their garbage in the cart or on a shelf. It's like littering inside.

                                                                                          1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                                                                            "sometimes it takes a cappuccino to make it through the store"

                                                                                            Are you serious? Since when did grocery shopping become such a chore? Couldn't you complete your shopping, then sit down and enjoy a cappucino instead of slurping it while grabbing items off the shelf?

                                                                                            1. re: Catskillgirl

                                                                                              oh come on, i can't bring my coffee from starbucks into the grocery store while i'm shopping? i don't get in people's way; what's it to anyone else?

                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                Especially when you consider that Safeway has Starbucks right in its stores.

                                                                                      2. i like grocery shopping. i know the aisles and everything.

                                                                                        the thing about grocery shopping is that some folk get it and some don't. i couldn't care less about folk snacking in mid shop.

                                                                                        things that tick me off:

                                                                                        folk who clog the aisle with their cart so you can't pass.

                                                                                        folk in the personal grooming aisle peeling off the tops of deodorant and smelling the contents. worst case is when they pass the container from one family member to another.

                                                                                        checking out should be smooth and painless. i'm not too fond being behind folk who wait for the checkout person to ring up the sale and stand idly by when the checkout person finally bags their stuff. bagging your own stuff as sales are rung up is cool. presenting coupons at the start of the transaction process is cool. fumbling with cash and change way after the sale has been rung up is not cool.

                                                                                        1. I just had to chime in one more time - obviously my senses are acutely tuned in to this issue.

                                                                                          I just went to the grocery store and actually found myself counting how many people I saw eating.....

                                                                                          Grand total: 14 people!

                                                                                          Highest count was in the produce section, and I think the funniest, grossest, most outlandish was the guy walking around with his deli meat & cheese, making little rollups and happily munching as he went along the aisles (and yeah, he stopped to talk on his cell phone too)!

                                                                                          Thankfully due to this thread the whole experience just made me laugh!

                                                                                          One observation though - when I was at Whole Foods earlier today I didn't see anyone in the produce section munching away.....coincidence or does it speak to the level of clientèle at WF over the supermarkets?

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: chicaraleigh

                                                                                            14 - amazing! Lots of different opinions on this obviously! I'm not sure I would eat meat and cheese roll ups with the hands that push the cart and hold the phone - but to each his own I guess. Gross!

                                                                                            1. re: chicaraleigh

                                                                                              Unfortunately, there are lots of folks at the WF I shop at who eat grapes and other produce before buying it, and give to their children as well, basically teaching them to take what they want and not pay (since they are not paying for what hasn't been weighed at the checkout because they ate it already!).

                                                                                              These same people gross me out at the salad/prepared foods bar when they taste things (taken with their bare hands) and allow their children to do so. Ditto the bulk bins.

                                                                                              I can tolerate people eating in the store if they pay for their purchases but will admit, the kind of thing I especially find annoying: person ahead of me at the checkout, eating and drinking things not yet paid for, crumbs all over the conveyor belt, as she was talking on her cell phone with her mouth full.

                                                                                              1. re: poptart

                                                                                                oh, well, that's just piggy behavior, plain and simple. i'd say something -- cause that's the way i am: "hey, do you mind? you're getting crumbs everywhere!!"

                                                                                                i can't believe some examples given here on this thread because i've just never seen such boorish behavior. i live in northern virginia, and before that in sw florida. it just isn't done here, this piggishness!

                                                                                            2. If they didn't want you to drink at the supermarket, why do all the carts have a cup-holder as an accessory? Or is that where you're supposed to pop your newborn while you shop?

                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: adamshoe

                                                                                                None of the groceries where I live have cup holders.

                                                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                  Maybe they're afraid WF will have them arrested if they forget to pay since their prices are so outrageous.

                                                                                                  In fact the WFs in my area are reporting their business has declined due to the economic decline. Maybe WF needs to start taking food stamps.

                                                                                                  1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                                                                                    i'm sure wf *does* take food stamps.

                                                                                                  2. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                    Honestly, I have never ever seen that either. Where do you shop Adam?

                                                                                                  3. re: adamshoe

                                                                                                    None of the ones where I live do either, in any of the stores.

                                                                                                    1. re: adamshoe

                                                                                                      Me three. None of the stores where I shop have cup-holders on the carts.

                                                                                                      1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                        Seems to be ubiquitous (sp?) at most Safeways and larger Lucky stores here in Oakland/ SF. Maybe you just didn't notice them up near the kiddy seat... No cup-holders @ Berkeley Bowl...

                                                                                                        1. re: adamshoe

                                                                                                          Same at most Stop & Shops in the Boston area. I always look for the few carts that *don't* have the Dunkin' Donuts cup holder. I hate 'em.

                                                                                                    2. query:

                                                                                                      will you taste a grape off a bunch? i have.
                                                                                                      i don't want a bunch of sour grapes (ha, there are enough of them everywhere!)
                                                                                                      but, i wouldn't open a clamshell to test, e.g., a raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, huckleberry hound. how do you deal with the "grape test" issue?

                                                                                                      15 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                        Personally, unless they have a display for samples, I am not supportive of that. One grape sounds small, sure, but that can be the tip of the iceberg of that type of behavior.

                                                                                                        1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                          that's funny! grapes are the "gateway" fruit, now? ;-D

                                                                                                            1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                              Grapes are the one item I do sample before purchase. I've been stuck with a bag of tasteless sour ones way too often to make that mistake again. And I don't feel the slightest bit bad about it either. I do the bulk of my shopping at one grocery store and I have spent a ton of money there in the last few years. I think they can spare a grape for me to make sure I'm not wasting my money. I mean, I don't turn it into snack time or anything. One grape.

                                                                                                              1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                yes! thank you! one grape. nothing else!

                                                                                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                  jfood dhops at one store almost exclusively as well and is pretty good friends by now with most of the department managers. Before he started with the test-grape he approached the produce manager and asked if it was OK> Not only did he say sure and escortedhimover to make sure that the grapes were fine (hey it's his product and he is proud of it), but he asked what else jfood wanted and helped him choose what he thought was the best at each stop.

                                                                                                                  It's a relationship that goes both ways.

                                                                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                    jfood, I'm glad you brought this up ie: relationship goes two ways. Because, that is exactly what our green grocer says. The gentlemen has been known to cut and serve Jersey Fresh produce right there with customers gathering to sell tomatoes, encourage corn sales...and no one has an issue with it as far as I can tell.

                                                                                                                    This eating a grape part of the thread was so funny to me because people test the flavor of grapes all the time. But, then a CH posted that a person got arrested for eating a few grapes and that gave me considerable pause. So, ASKING if it's okay to test a grape is probably the best idea. And acknowledging that your shopping experience is a two way street is brillant.

                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                      Where are the grapes produced? After living Bolivia, I don't touch a grape until I bring it home and wash (sterilize) it. Cholera was found in the market near my home. Think about where the food originates before you discuss the ethic of noshing. Now beer on the other hand... I admit to embareassment (sic) to place a 6-pack of empties on the belt, but it helps me deal with the high prices and rudeness of the sober.

                                                                                                                    2. re: jfood

                                                                                                                      It's a relationship that goes both ways.
                                                                                                                      Absolutely agree, jfood.

                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                        I agree if the produce manager is OK with it than of course go ahead. I would like it better if they had a sample bunch for customers (and often they do) but if not and the market is OK with the sampling, sure.

                                                                                                                        1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                          this is assuming there is a produce manager that is within the next 450-mile zone!

                                                                                                                      2. re: jfood

                                                                                                                        You have a good point about cultivating relationships with the various department managers. This is not something I've ever pursued and I can definitely see how such a relationship would pay off.

                                                                                                              2. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                I might be a little bit too close to the issue but after spending a week at the hospital with my two year old who was having kidney failure due to a rare form of ecoli that seems to be likely due to fresh produce, I don't think it's very wise to sample the produce at the store.

                                                                                                                ....but, although I try to keep cheerios on hand for him in my purse, I have been known to broach a few packages while shopping to appease my child just so I can get out ASAP.

                                                                                                                1. re: sebetti

                                                                                                                  Oh, geez. He's on the upswing, I hope.

                                                                                                                  I do worry about bugs, given that my daughter is grabby about fruits and vegetables and of course doesn't understand the importance of washing them first.

                                                                                                                  1. re: jlafler

                                                                                                                    Sorry to hear Sebetti. Hope he's better than ever soon. Also hope that what happened to him is a rare circumstance!

                                                                                                              3. I think, outside of a properly designated dining area such as a restaurant, eating in public is rude. I do not care to share the aromas of another person's food while riding public transit nor navigate around drinks in a mall. I think it absurd that I now observe people having entire hot meals with drinks while riding the subway. Of course, exception should be made for diabetics. That's reasonable and caring. Exceptions shouldn't be made for those who simply have no manners.

                                                                                                                19 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Googs

                                                                                                                  Googs, we have no way of knowing if a person is circumventing a medical emergency or not. Except to assume that a meal enjoyed on the fly may be different to our sensibilities than a person gulping down a carton of o.j.

                                                                                                                  Either way, this discussion which started off as a common observation is turning into yet another what I hate about others pet peeve.

                                                                                                                  We're all guilty of rude behavior at some point in our lives. If we continue to point the finger at the other guy/gal and not at ourselves little changes.

                                                                                                                  So rant on my fellow CH's but I'm off to another thread for deliciousness.
                                                                                                                  Enjoy your Sunday!

                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                    Exactly. I had it drummed into me at school that "Ladies don't eat on the street or in public other than when seated in a restaurant", though I often break that rule (and think of those Scottish women every time I do). I'm always a little taken aback when someone wears a hat in a restaurant, but rethought that once a poster here mentioned that people may wear hats due to medical reasons such as chemotherapy, etc.

                                                                                                                    And, I agree - off to make a delicious (I hope) lunch.

                                                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                      The point about medical excuses, which covers a fraction of the people being discussed, has been made. Show me anyone with medical problems who runs to cheez-its and I'll show you someone who does not take care of themselves. But hey, that's a new topic too! Point is, very few people MUST eat in the grocery.

                                                                                                                      1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                        True - I was just agreeing with hillj that it can, at least in some instances, be difficult to ascertain the reasons behind it. That said, it really doesn't bother me that people are eating in the store, as long as they pay for it on the way out and aren't strewing crumbs/litter about, etc. It may be slovenly and self indulgent, but I figure that's the problem of those doing it, not me. In terms of the unsanitary issue, not that it is one I worry about much generally, but I'm sure there are plenty more things to worry about in that area than a hand having been in a cracker box before touching produce.

                                                                                                                      2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                        MM, you and I were raised the same way re the "Ladies don't eat on the street or in public," etc. As a child I can remember shopping with my mother, and she was appalled when people sampled even a single grape. I think I was five when she made me promise never to eat in a supermarket.

                                                                                                                        Fast forward to my mid-twenties -- Mom takes me to Costco for the first time when I'm home for the weekend and suggests that if we eat enough of the "free samples" we won't have to go out to lunch!

                                                                                                                    2. re: Googs

                                                                                                                      how about foods sold by street vendors all over the world? are they only to be consumed by people w/ no manners? pizza, hot dogs, pad thai, sticky rice, herring, falafels, frites,tacos, tamales, chaat, ice cream, etcetcetc are sold on the street and made to be consumed there, not is some designated dining area. are you saying that all these people around the globe have no manners?

                                                                                                                      saying people have no manners is presuming only your manners are the acceptable set.

                                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                                        I think you outline a totally different scenario there - the original post is about a grocery store, eat first-buy later, sanitary issues, etc. Street vendors are great. I think that food is meant to be eaten on the spot - and on the street. When you but street food you are not in a store. You are not simultaneously handling products on a shelf. You are not eating food you have not bought. I think if you were to truly consider what is polite, based on established etiquette, you would see that my position in the OP, while people may disagree, is proper etiquette. If you disagree, of course you are free to act and think as you like. Everyone is entitled to an opinion.

                                                                                                                        1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                          and are most likely not walking while eating street food . . .

                                                                                                                          1. re: alwayscooking

                                                                                                                            Agree. Have traveled abroad a lot and can't remember ever seeing someone (other than a fellow Yank) walking around eating. If there are no benches or other seating, people just hang around the food cart/stall, and eat.

                                                                                                                          2. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                            SamuelAT, I've just returned from a trip to Target. This particular location has a cafe in the front selling hot popcorn, hot pretzels and hotdogs and a grocery store in the back selling chips, cookies, frozen food, dairy, beverages etc. Not to mention indiv. bottles of coke & water. I asked the gentlemen at customer service desk if food is allowed to be eaten in the store and they said yes. I asked if food eaten in the store creates an issue of any kind and they said yes, trash and sticky floors being his first two responses. I asked why the store allows food to be eaten outside of the selling area and he said that is what customers wanted and Target needs to compete with those consumer requests. I asked if the store has a problem with people opening goods before buying them and he said the public opens all sorts of items to "get a closer" look before purchasing (he gave me several non food examples) and then he said food is generally easier to ring up opened then dealing with an opened non food package the customer decides not to buy. By the time I was done asking all these questions, the customer service rep thought he was being "shopped." But I explained I was curious what the protocol was for eating while shopping at Target.

                                                                                                                            If the store is not going to place a limit on where people can enjoy the food they are purchasing on site, I'm not convinced there is anything a fellow customer can do. Since more and more retail stores are offering cafes, selling to go items, providing large grocery sections in their overall store lineup, I think this pet peeve is here to stay. Could this Target use a few strategically placed bins on the floor, a few wetnap dispensers, a few rules/signs to address the mess, YES!

                                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                              HillJ - thank you for the interesting reporting on your shopping! Hope the manager didn't worry too much he was being shopped, LOL! It's good to hear a merchant's point of view, It sounds like the bottom line is that the manager dislikes it, but is forced to tolerate it. Thanks again for the interesting commentary.

                                                                                                                            2. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                              i understand that i was responding to googs comment:

                                                                                                                              "I think, outside of a properly designated dining area such as a restaurant, eating in public is rude"

                                                                                                                              1. re: SamuelAt


                                                                                                                                As someone who has no problem with the situation described he does not think there is any etiquette book that has taken a position. But to convert your opinion to an actual polite and people who don't agree as rude or to place a line in the sand that you opinion is the correct and others have violated etiquette is a leap of faith bro.

                                                                                                                                Jfood understands that people may not agree with his position but he would never call those with the opposite opinion either rude or violating some form of etiquette.

                                                                                                                              2. re: thew

                                                                                                                                I'm saying that there are appropriate places to eat even with street food. Have you no park benches or picnic tables where you are?

                                                                                                                                I'm also saying the current state of affairs goes hand in glove with the obesity epidemic. Should instant gratification win over manners?

                                                                                                                                1. re: Googs

                                                                                                                                  again. you seem to assume your manners are a universal. I am saying they are not.

                                                                                                                                  and there are few benches here in NYC, and fewer picnic tables. And i have seen people across asia and europe eating food on the streets. not at tables. not in parks. people strolling the streets of amsterdam with frites, or delhi with chaat. or NYC with hot dogs and pizza.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                    and even in those cultures it is considere not quite 'right' to walk and eat at the same time . . .

                                                                                                                                    It could be that it is tricky to both eat an walk. For example, when there are people trying to negociate a oily, cheesy, tomato'y slice while walking, I avoid them at all costs. I do not want to see them 'glorb' on themselves or on me,

                                                                                                                                    Is it just me? Even when I'm sitting to dining, I still end up with a major dry cleaning bill!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: alwayscooking

                                                                                                                                      that is an awfully broad brush statement about all the world's cultures - and it sounds to me more like a belief than knowledge. I've spent a great deal of time in india, and there seems to be no such compunction about eating and walking, as long as it is finger food. (of course the concept of finger food in a place where so many eat with their hands is nearly comical in trying to define!) while the pad thai and som tam in thailand are rarely eaten while walking i saw many a sweet item, or serving of sticky rice or plastic bag of soda happily carried along. when i lived in amsterdam no one scoffed at anyone eating frites while walking away from the stand. Nope. didnt see anyone think it was "not quite right"

                                                                                                                                      i eat pizza all the time on the street (ok not as much as i used to, but that has to do with a million other reasons, none of which are "manners" related) and i can't say i never dripped anything on myself, but i wouldn't say it happened every, or even a majority of times. hot dogs and ice cream, likewise.

                                                                                                                                      c'mon people - ice cream.

                                                                                                                                      and as to manners - they evolve. as i said on a thread here a few months ago about baseball hats in restaurants, to try to apply emily post-mortem rules in the 21st century seems as ridiculous as to be shocked by a woman displaying her ankle. Times have changed. etiquette changes with them. And that applies to eating in the super market too

                                                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                        I have traveled extensively through the US, Europe, South America Asia, and the Caribbean. In Japan, there are beverage machines, but the etiquette there is that walking and drinking an open beverage is crass. People open their drinks, drink them by the machine, and dispose of them in a bin which has been puposefully placed next to the machine. In Italy, Gelato is food you walk with, and eat while you walk. All of these examples however, have nothing to do with my original post, and I am only saying this because it seems that what is considered acceptable in terms of eating on the go varies greatly by country, and no one judgement is sound for the world at large. But again, despite this string of comments, my post is about US grocery stores.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                          understood. as i said above, the only reason i brought street food up at all was goog's comment about eating being rude outside specifically designated eating zones

                                                                                                                            3. I would like to interject a thought on diabetics. I have several friends who have diabetes, and they are NEVER without whatever nutritional aids they might need. They would never rely on their local supermarket to supply the needed food item. Therefore, I find this a totally bogus claim.

                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                I'm pretty careful, but I do very occasionally forget some vital piece of diabetes paraphernalia. Over the years, you will eventually goof -- forget to replenish your supply of glucose tabs when you've used up the tube you carry around in your bag, forget them when you're transferring your stuff from one handbag into another, etc.

                                                                                                                                And, as Lynn said above, a really bad low can scramble your brain (glucose is the only kind of fuel the brain uses). Most type 1 diabetics eventually develop some degree of hypoglycemia unawareness, which means that you don't feel any symptoms until your blood sugar is so low that you're in serious trouble. At that point, you really don't know what you're doing. It's extremely scary, and it can happen even if you're very careful.

                                                                                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                  I applaude the forward thinking of your diabetic friends, pika, but I disagree with your proclamation that diabetics who may occassionally rely on a supermarket to supply the needed food items are making a bogus claim. Life is not always predictable, and we've all gotten caught short at times. While I have not yet broken my promise to never eat in a supermarket, there are times when I can barely make it out to the parking lot to bite into an apple or open a package of cashews due to nothing more life-threatening than basic hunger. I practice tolerance for those who are unable to wait, but I will look at them sternly if they litter in "my" grocery store.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: chefbeth

                                                                                                                                    I can appreciate a medical need for eating right away. All the examples in the string above that are from those who need to eat for medical reasons are the exception.

                                                                                                                                2. I don't eat at the grocery store but I do keep a pint of cheap whisky in my back pocket and take a little nip now and then. People sure look at me funny, to each his own I guess.

                                                                                                                                  1. I often give my son something to eat while we shop. It could be a bagel stick, a muffin, something like that. If I have him with me it's often after school and he's really hungry. We ALWAYS pay for the item but it's also after he's eaten most of the item.

                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                      My parents always got me a donut when they took me grocery shopping with them and gave the empty bag with bakery price tag to the cashier as we left. I am pretty sure that was my Sunday morning breakfast.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                        The bakery at the store where I shop gives each little kid who comes by a BIG cookie,

                                                                                                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                          That's different - they want you to eat it. It's good for your kids (they love it) and it's good for business (you like them more so you may wish to shop there more often.)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                            Our local Whole Foods will give any child under 12 a juice box or a stick of fruit leather. You have to remember to ask for it on your way in, though, and I rarely do.

                                                                                                                                            Except for these freebies and "free samples," I don't generally let my daughter eat grocery items while we're in the store. But I have to watch her like a hawk in the produce section to keep her from grabbing and biting into vegetables, which I then, of course, have to buy. ("Oh well, I guess I can use a green bell pepper....") And yesterday she grabbed a bunch of cilantro from the conveyer belt, ripped out a handful, and chewed on it while we went through the checkout process. (The people behind us in line were vastly amused.) This is why I don't take her shopping with me very often. When she's a little older, I hope she'll have more self-control.

                                                                                                                                        2. Fascinating thread.

                                                                                                                                          Question: what about the bulk bin when you are unsure about what it is you are purchasing? Case in point: the other day I was at my grocery store and needed some chocolate, bitter chocolate to be precise, preferably 80% or higher. I thought I'd try the chocolate in the bulk bin, but the percentage of chocolate was not marked and the store clerk didn't have a clue what it was. The label just said "dark". I proceeded to take a little bag, slide the container open (no scoop, just sliding door that allows the contents to pour into your bag), tried to get as few pieces of chocolate in the bag as possible, then sampled one. The chocolate was aweful so I ended up buying the packaged stuff, but of course I took the bag to the counter, had it weighed, and paid for it. Does that count as eating in the store?

                                                                                                                                          Confession: I have been guilty (extremely rare occurence - can't think of the last time it happened) of having a sip of water from a bottle that I'd picked off the shelf, or opening a box of crackers and eating one (as discreetly as possible) and then moving on.

                                                                                                                                          I'm not sure that I've ever seen someone empty the bag of chips etc as they're shopping. What appalls me in grocery stores are the following: leaving the sample dishes strewn about the store and tucked into shelves, sampling what seems like an endless supply of a particular item and using fingers to reach into a communal container, checking for ripeness by doing nothing short of SQUISHING the produce, and yes, the parents who don't keep an eye on their children.

                                                                                                                                          Perhaps I should start another thread, but now that I think of it, one of my ultimate store pet peeves is when I see children whose faces, mouths, and filthy fingers are pressed up against display cases and their parents assume it's acceptable. I have seen parents let this behaviour continue even while the poor store clerk is spraying and wiping down the display case as the child moves along it. I mean seriously, if you are that discrespectful of someone else's property, what about your child's health? Are you not concerned about what they might be licking as they move along?

                                                                                                                                          Wow, now that was a vent. I feel better now.

                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: sf toronto

                                                                                                                                            I think the examples like someone who has "just a grape" or sampling a tiny piece from the bulk bin is kind of a gray area. It's not totally fair - they do weigh items in the bag (hence what you ate is free), but to my mind what you mention is discreet and with a specific purpose. The scenario I mention in the OP is really more like someone who already knows they like something (say, Cheez-its) and then openly eats whatever item that is as they shop. Also, in terms of manners, I think a discreet sample like you mention above is a far cry from an open bag of chips and noshing because you can and it's there.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: sf toronto

                                                                                                                                              A child LICKING a display case? I can't even imagine such a thing. How old are the children? I think you need to stick them in the cart until they're too heavy to lift. The frost on the glass is pretty irresistible to them, but I'm thinking more of drawing on it, not a good thing either. Not to mention that the store is somewhat dangerous. They can easily fall, get hit with a cart or have something fall on their head running around the store.

                                                                                                                                            2. Such an interesting post...

                                                                                                                                              I generally prefer not to eat while I am shopping. I do however regularly bring my travel mug with either tea or coffee. Grocery shopping is something I enjoy and take my time...reading labels, checking out new items and speaking with the butcher and fishmonger. Growing up we shopped at little markets and often tasted prior to purchasing...but this was done to determine what we were buying...cheese for example. And, I will still ask for a taste of cheese and certain other types of food to see if it is something I will like. I buy very good quality food and will gladly pay, but I don't want to waste money on something I don't like. So, while I don't "eat" while shopping...I will "taste". I never sample produce..I visually inspect it, feel it and smell...that's what my grandparents taught me and it has served me well.

                                                                                                                                              As far as samples go, I was taught to only sample something if I was really contemplating purchasing it. In other words, samples are not snacks. I won't sample something that I already know how it tastes. I am also particular about how samples are done. Free range samples I avoid: I don't want to eat something that others might have touched. I will only sample if the staff is offering the sampling directly to the customer.

                                                                                                                                              But, to answer the OP's question...I would find it rude if they were making a mess as they went or ate something and did not purchase it.

                                                                                                                                              Years ago, I knew someone who would regulary go to the grocery store and do the following: 1 go to bakery and get a roll. 2. go to deli and order small amount of meat and cheese 3. prepare sandwhich 4 eat sandwhich. 5 grab a soda and drink that. 6. nothing to check out with....so, you get the idea.

                                                                                                                                              And no, this was not a friend...someone I worked with and they prided themself on such cleverness...sad.

                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Pawsinhand

                                                                                                                                                Years ago, I knew someone who would regulary go to the grocery store and do the following: 1 go to bakery and get a roll. 2. go to deli and order small amount of meat and cheese 3. prepare sandwhich 4 eat sandwhich. 5 grab a soda and drink that. 6. nothing to check out with....so, you get the idea.

                                                                                                                                                And no, this was not a friend...someone I worked with and they prided themself on such cleverness...sad.


                                                                                                                                                Interesting. My experience is when someone has the propensity to take things that do not belong to them in any situation or environment, this behavior extends into other facets of their life....especially in the workplace whether it is material products, time or services.....

                                                                                                                                                I am curious as to why you have never mentioned this observation and behavior to your superiors? I would not consider this ratting a person out, but rather protecting yourself and your employer, as I would not want this person near me for fear of being associated with the offender in any way, shape or form.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                                  fourunder...good question and I agree, it's definitely a behavior. As to why I didn't share this data with my superiors...As I did not witness this behavior first hand...I would have merely been passing on their story. I was taught not to tattle tale on others...that if someone was doing something they should not...they will eventually reveal themselves. I tended to focus on my own job and doing the best job I could do and did not get bogged down in what others were doing. Of course, this was the 80's and I was young...so I am sure that factored in too.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Pawsinhand

                                                                                                                                                  I agree with you regarding produce. There are ways to evaluate without tasting. Your coworker was point blank committing theft. Interesting to that person it was something to brag about!

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                                                                                    Samuel...yes, that was point blank theft. I guess the bragging has more to do with being young....young guy, early 20's....flashy 80's. Perhaps today, he would be ashamed to reflect back on his behavior....I think most of us have a few things that we might find cringeworthy from our youth.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Pawsinhand

                                                                                                                                                      Absolutely - - I think we all learn from our youth. And the Chow board, LOL! Thanks for responding.

                                                                                                                                                3. sample - grey area. children/medical - okay. stuffing face while shopping - can't they wait? or no shame?

                                                                                                                                                  and most perplexing; the sheer impatience that dinner would be walking around pushing a cart, rather than sitting down and having a real meal.

                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dumpycactus

                                                                                                                                                    Oh, good heavens.
                                                                                                                                                    I was raised not to eat in non eating public places too (save for things like ballgames and picnics and the occasional ice cream cone) AND not to rip off the store. But if I paid attention to everything i was raised with I'd have never had sex.

                                                                                                                                                    I think that's why I will sneak a nut once in awhile. It makes me feel naughty.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                                                                                                                                      That is quite a shocking confession, whosyerkitty. But I think what you are saying is you know it is wrong.

                                                                                                                                                  2. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/323691

                                                                                                                                                    I found this OP from a year ago...is there something about September that attracts this topic?

                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                      Interesting! It seems the responses were similar - if not a little more rigid about not eating while you shop.

                                                                                                                                                    2. I agree 100% with everything you said. It would get on my nerves, I don't think everyone would feel the way I do about it but it's still something I don't think is right.

                                                                                                                                                      I've seen people fill their bags up with bulk items and then eat them (and this is the supermarket bulk section) so once they get to the cash it will definitely not weigh as much as they did when they filled their bag, and thus they haven't paid for the stuff they ate.
                                                                                                                                                      On the other hand it's also hard to tell if people "will" pay, I know a lot of people will, not judging anyone but you just never know, so if everyone did this I don't think it would be proper. Some people could get away with it. I've spoken to managers of stores about witnessing people who shop lift, eat and say they brought it from home (no way of proving otherwise unless there is a witness who is willing to speak up, like I did) and they always tell me how they don't like anyone eating until they've paid for anything, it should just be a general rule.

                                                                                                                                                      I've been to little bulk shops where owners were very welcoming and "asked" me to feel free to taste whatever I wanted to, but personally I couldn't ...
                                                                                                                                                      So unless there was some sort of "permission/invite" to do soI wouldn't because I don't think I would like people doing something like this if I owned the shop/supermarket.

                                                                                                                                                      1. It seems like there are three separate issues:

                                                                                                                                                        1. Stealing (when someone eats in the store and then doesn't pay either because they hide the evidence or because it's something that must be paid for by weight, which, having been eaten, is impossible at checkout);

                                                                                                                                                        2. Making a mess; and

                                                                                                                                                        3. Eating in public (in general).

                                                                                                                                                        I think it's hard to really defend outright stealing, although some posters seem to exclude "samples" from their definition of stealing. There the sticking point may be whether, in addition to the explicit samples offered by the store, there is an implicit offer of samples of produce, bulk foods, etc. (e.g. eating a grape or an olive to see whether one should buy) and thus "sampling" those items, even without an explicit offer of a sample from the store, is not stealing. It's hard to understand that logic - to the extent that something is for sale and there is no store policy or personel offering you a sample (and specifying the size of the sample), it seems that you'd be taking something for sale without paying for it (i.e. stealing). Maybe the argument is that since stores never prosecute for "sampling", there is an implied offer to sample. I don't generally think so - if that were the case, shouldn't I be able to sample everything in the produce section? How big is a sample? One grape? One watermelon? Do I only get to sample things that are small?

                                                                                                                                                        Maybe part of the reason that eating in the store bothers so many people is that you generally don't know that the person will pay for the item - either know the person won't pay for the item later (e.g. because it's sold by weight and thus it's impossible) or you just don't know at all. It just screams of unfairness, like seeing someone cut in line...I am going to pay for everything I eat, *you* should have to pay for everything you eat! I waited in line for an hour, *you* should have to wait in line for an hour.

                                                                                                                                                        If someone is making a mess (spilling, leaving crumbs, trash, etc.) it's easy to say that's rude, but that would be true regardless of what they were doing, even if they weren't eating.

                                                                                                                                                        As for eating in public - clearly a lot of people agree that it's gross and a little dangerous to eat after exposing one's hands to the germs present on all grocery store surfaces and carts. I have heard that some people think it's rude to eat in front of other people who are not eating, but this doesn't bother me unless it's a double-standard type thing like if you're in school and the teacher forbids food or drinks but has a nice steaming cup of coffee on her desk. Some people think it's rude to eat while walking, but I've never understood how anyone could be offended by that alone.

                                                                                                                                                        So then, what about someone, who has either paid for the food previously or will pay for the food at checkout (by keeping the wrapper of the food item sold at a per unit price and not by weight), who is not making a mess? I don't think this would bother me at all...in fact it sounds to me very similar to someone who, as I have been known to do on a occaision, opens and drinks a drink at a store while shopping and pays for it on my way out. No mess, no crumbs, no germ-y hand to food contact, no theft.

                                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: akq

                                                                                                                                                          riiiiight, one grape equals one watermelon!

                                                                                                                                                          1# seedless grapes is @ 2 1/2 cups. so 2 1/2 C costs about $ 1.50 (avg.)
                                                                                                                                                          without doing the math in detail, it is clear a single grape is minuscule in value. as i said, i only taste a grape IF i intend to buy some, but don't want to get stuck with sour loser grapes (believe it or not, there are such things). if they are decent grapes, i buy them.

                                                                                                                                                          i do not "sample" any other fruits, as they are more predictable. and i don't "snack" in the store.

                                                                                                                                                          i give thousands of dollars worth of business to these stores annually. to sample a grape 4-6 times -- or even 12 times -- a year i find to be within my "its OK" realm of logic.

                                                                                                                                                          let's say i bought the bunch without the "taste in the store", but only discovered they were sour when i got home and tried one (or some). i take them back to the store, wasting my gas and my time (and slightly annoyed they are selling sorry grapes). is the store going to re-weigh them to only refund the purchase price for the remaining grapes, thus charging me for the bad grape(s) i consumed? or just refund my money? why would they charge me for a bad product?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                            I've returned badly bruised bananas that looked perfect, spoiled milk that had a valid date, under ripe melon, ice cream box I didn't notice was opened, expired packaged good (when I didn't see the date) and never had one ounce of trouble returning a tampered or altered item for a full refund. With receipt in hand, no issue from the store. Of course I try to remember my eye glasses to avoid some of these errors (lol!) but my point is as Jfood and others have said--two way street.

                                                                                                                                                            So alkapal's point is valid regarding quality and the expectation of same.
                                                                                                                                                            However, grazing on grapes with no intention of buying a bunch I believe is where the OP and the "varied" segway's of eating while shopping diverge.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: akq

                                                                                                                                                            in many european markets (and i am not one of these europe does everything better europhiles) and a few american ones you pick your produce, weigh it, get a sticker and put it on the bag. this means that even if you eat the whole thing before you get to checkout it is now a unit priced item, and can still pay for it all, without "stealing" any.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                              I've seen a couple of local supermarkets to me using this produce scales/pricing mechanisms.

                                                                                                                                                              However, they're only good if the consumer actually uses them. You don't *have* to - it's supposed to be used as a convenience at the checkout counter to get you through the line more quickly (and that's the way they're marketing them). So while it's a great idea, those consumers who eat produce items before paying for them probably won't use them.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: akq

                                                                                                                                                              akq - in the original post, the "buy and then eat" really expands beyond produce/bulk sampling. I saw someone eating Cheez-its. My personal objection is that it is "for sale" until it is bought. Opening it prior to purchase seemed to represent a lack of discipline and respect to the store (medical conditions aside.) If I was to split hairs, it is even stealing. I think if a produce section encourages sampling, fine. Go ahead. Logically, this does not apply to melons and other items that are large, and singular in nature. In response to your question regarding someone who opens an item, walks and consumes while shopping, has not made a mess, and pays on the way out - I don't agree no harm no foul. Just because you "get away" with it - and leave little evidence, does not make it right in the first place. If you were on a highway in traffic, and decided to drive to your exit in the shoulder emergency lane, and did not scratch any cars in the process, does that make breaking the rules OK?

                                                                                                                                                            3. Hi all, It seems like pretty much everything that can be said has been said, and now we're just re-covering old ground, so we're gong to lock this thread. Thanks.