Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Nov 30, 2008 09:11 PM

wild and crazy "sampling" behavior..... what is your best story?


get this, today at trader joes, some guy -- after just eating one -- took the last sample of the seasoned prime rib (in the little paper sample cup), as i was standing there, and just about to reach for it.

and i looked at him.

he must've felt something funny in my look or he knew he shouldn't be taking it, and he sua sponte said "it's for my dog." -- then put the prime rib sample cup in his hand-held shopping basket.

<for your freakin' DOG?!?!??!?!, i think. yeah, like a "doggy bag" is for the dog!!!>

so i say, quizically, *it's for your *dog*?"
he says, "yeah."
and as he turns to get a coffee sample,
i try and catch his eye, then i say (somewhat like dr. evil), "right.... your dog....." and then (with humorous feeling, as if i'm a hungry dog): "woof woof!" he, of course, acts like he hasn't heard me. <i mean, theoretically, he could have laughed, right?>

as he turns back around from getting his coffee sample, he won't look at me. and then carries off his little basket.

with the "dog's" sample.

of prime rib.

now....WILL that dog be making the buying decisions in the household? the dog needs a "sample"? like, the dog is going to sniff, and turn down the prime rib because the seasoning is a bit off? riiiiiight.

WHAT in the hell is happening to my country???????????

<and please, just now i cannot abide any junior psychologists talking about passive aggression....>

what is your sampling horror/humor story?

  1. I half expect the guy in your story to post his own version, in which he gets barked at just because he took two little sample cups. Which I've done, and probably everyone else has, too. If this is the most horrible story you've got, you're doing alright.

    28 Replies
    1. re: small h

      at least i didn't growl and bite his leg! ;-D.

      i don't care that he took two -- but it was the last one and it was for his dog! (which dog i did not see at the checkout counter with his credit card...)

      1. re: alkapal

        1) It wasn't for his dog. He was trying to get you to leave him alone. It didn't work.

        2) I don't have a dog, but it's my understanding that people usually buy dogs their food, whether it's prime rib or kibble.

        1. re: small h

          I do dog food demos throughout the winter, and luckily my company doesn't do samples, just coupons. The food is high end enough that people might just start munching on it!
          Gee I read somewhere (and it may have been here) that a lot of people plan on going to Costco or BJs on their lunch break just to eat free food. Thankfully I'm not that desperate yet!

          1. re: coll

            That reminds me of my favourite sampling behaviour story. It came on one of these threads so it's not mine.

            Someone was saying that they knew a divorced father who got his kid on the weekend and Saturday's lunch was free samples at Costco. I thought, how cheap and just how bad a father is this to teach a child that this is acceptable behaviour.
            They're samples, not a free lunch.


          2. re: small h

            "leave him alone" -- i hadn't done anything but stand there to get a sample . he had just eaten one, then took the last one. when i just looked at him, he volunteered that it was for "his dog".

            1. re: alkapal

              I just think it's pretty churlish to give someone a hard time because he got between you and your free meat scrap. In a perfect world, he wouldn't have taken the last one. But he might not have noticed that you were waiting. He might have been really hungry. He might have thought that a new batch of samples was on the way. You can defend your barking stunt all you want (and I see that a few contributors to this thread think it's just high-larious). But behaving like that sure as hell doesn't make the world a better place.

              1. re: small h

                Hey h.

                I'll take the opposite side of you. This is right in an area that irritates me. Lack of consideration for others. If you've had one, don't take the last one. It doesn't matter if he didn't see alk or if he thought there were more coming. If you want more, wait until more come. Let someone else have a try. It's just plain good manners. Far too many people are too selfish these days.
                While I agree that it's far from a huge deal, it's the constant lowering of expectations. People are behaving like jerks all the time and because what they're doing really isn't that bad, it's come to be accepted.


                1. re: Davwud

                  Well said Davwud! I thought the OP was brave and creative and used a light humorous approach. There are many days I would like to borrow a cup of that. I have also noticed a trend on chowhound where the "scolds" as I think of them, never seem to start a thread of their own. Much less risky to lurk and take potshots. But chowhound is still a wonderful place to visit. I've been to some much rougher neighborhoods but they do a good job here of not letting things go too far. Lets just say that I've been called a lot worse than churlish on the gaming forums. He he!

                  1. re: givemecarbs

                    I don't know that I'd say 'brave and creative' as this strikes me as fairly aggressive, but the point on scolds is well taken. Looks like people are bound to be put out by any suggestion that their behaviour is unappreciated. If I feel compelled to say anything, it's usually a raised eyebrow or a 'wow'. Not much else.

                2. re: small h

                  You are right small H, after all selfish, greedy people who lie are much better for the world.

                  Lowering the bar of behavior we tolerate in this world has led to the problems we have now. Perhaps if more people "barked" at others for being so rude less people would be that way.

                  1. re: gryphonskeeper

                    I'm not advocating selfishness & greed. I'm saying that the answer to selfishness & greed is not, or should not be, harassment. Of course people should strive to be more considerate. But we're setting the bar pretty low if taking one extra meat scrap (OMG, but it was the LAST meat scrap!) makes you a selfish, greedy person.

                    1. re: small h

                      see-- i'm wondering: when did it ever get to be okay for *one* person to take *two* samples-- that's why the toothpick is stuck into one morsel, not two, or there is one cracker laid out on one napkin, not two-- the cheese is cut up into cubes so everyone can take *one*-- not a handful, or do we all really need a sample chaperon?? you took a sample, you can evaluate the taste-- you don't need a 4 oz or larger "sample"-- that would be called a "portion." one sample per person (and any more than that *is* selfish & taking advantage), them's the rules folks.

                      (uh, and i've done sampling at co-ops and have seen sample-ugliness, but it still amazes me)

                      & call me the doggie hater if you want-- but the samples of the filet mignon are for *people,* not animals. if your patient pooch is waiting outside in the weather and you want to give it a reward, well, that's why you packed your own doggie treats in your own dang pocket/handbag, along with the poo-poo bags, right?!? :(

                      1. re: soupkitten

                        No arguement here. And I am a dog lover.


                      2. re: small h

                        By saying nothing in this circumstance you essentially condone the inconsiderate behavior. If nothing was ever said to people who behave like this they would start to believe that it was acceptable. There may have been a better way to convey this than barking at him but you can bet he won't pull that crap next time.

                          1. re: Davwud

                            i'm with Davwud on many of you know, i'm not really one to keep my mouth shut ;) so i always speak up when i see someone behaving in an inconsiderate or unsanitary manner in the grocery store [or anywhere else, for that matter - litterers beware!] but i'm not sufficiently deluded - or narcissistic - to believe that my intervention is going to "reform" someone who does these things. however, i just can't sit by & watch silently, because i feel as though that would be condoning it.

                            i was in WFM about an hour ago, and a woman standing next to me in the bulk section pulled one of my all-time biggest peeves - she stuck her hand directly into the bin of nuts and started eating them. i looked at her, pointed to the attached plastic scoop, and said "the scoop is there for a reason." she giggled, mumbled a wholly insincere "sorry," and sidled away to have a laugh about it with her companion. a few minutes later i found myself standing next to them again, this time at the deli counter. there was a container of some sort of whipped feta dip out for sampling, along with a basket of chips. i watched in fascination as one of them took the basket of chips off the counter while the other grabbed the container of dip...they backed a few feet away from the counter and stood there, holding the COMMUNAL samples hostage, chatting & double-dipping away. i stopped in front of them and said "i truly don't understand people like you. that's incredibly greedy and inconsiderate, not to mention unsanitary." neither of them even blinked - just went back to conversing and munching as if i wasn't even there.

                            of course, as this was unfolding, the woman handing out samples of some sort of pumpkin pie or cheesecake directly behind them was chiding a woman for grabbing as many of those as she & her two kids could carry! it almost seems as though the holidays are bringing out the worst in people this year...

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              That woman and her companion have zero class, and nothing you can say will change that. As for the kids aspect......

                              When I was a demonstrator, I never allowed a child to take a sample, ever. I just told them it was the company policy as in today's litigious society we could not accept the risk of giving a sample to a minor who may have an allergy, so only people above 18, who could accept responsibility for their own actions could get a sample. When they asked if they could hand the sample to the child. I said she was more than welcome to give her sample to her child if she wanted to.

                              1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                gryphoskeeper, I can understand you not giving directly to the kid, but I don't get why the child and parent couldn't each get a sample. There are many, many foods I've started buying on a regular basis because my younger daughter got a sample of something delicious. The latest was the honey chevre at TJ's; I liked it, but wouldn't have bought it without my 12 year old D's enthused response. Same with the cheesemonger at our farmer's market; if this D is with me, she tries whatever the cheese guy puts in front of her, and then picks out what we're buying. She's been doing this for years, and knows to be polite and only take one piece (that honey chevre was an exception; she shamefacedly told me later that she'd gone back several times).

                                I've gotta say that if a demonstrator snubbed my kid like that, I'd be snubbing the product.

                                1. re: Kochav

                                  Certainly parents are buying food just as much for the children as for themselves. I can see wanting children to taste something first if possible to avoid buying items they won't like. While food allergies are very real, as long as the parent is with the children and knows what the sample is, I see no reason why they can't all take one sample.

                                  1. re: queencru

                                    Because the parent still sued the company. That is why. I am shocked some sampling companies still allow children to sample things. It iwll not be long before there will be no free samples... because just as much as everyone wants something for free... some people want to sue everyone for even free samples making them sick.

                                  2. re: Kochav

                                    It was the company policy, they were sued once because a demonstrator gave a child a sample and they had a severe allergic reaction. So from that day forward it was a ZERO child policy. Do not blame the product, or the demonstrator, blame the bad parents who use their kids to sue companies.

                                    1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                      That sounds like a bit of an overreaction to me! I've seen demonstrators not letting kids take samples for themselves - they say 'You have to get your parent' or something similar and make the parent okay the sample before they let the kid have it. And that's fair enough - a parent should be responsible for what their kid eats, not the supermarket demonstrator. But refusing samples to kids entirely is going a bit far...

                                  3. re: gryphonskeeper

                                    the issue wasn't that the kids were getting samples, it was that this one woman & her two kids were taking ALL the samples. she was grabbing multiples from the table & handing them to the children, and then taking several for herself.

                                  4. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    This is why I never buy from bulk bins. I've seen far too many people, mostly kids who are running out of control, reach in and grab things. Kids who've taken a bite and put it back. Moms who say, "Just a handful!"

                                    I only take one, and only let my kids take one sample, if there's a person there monitoring it (like at Costco) AND I get it for them. Though I guess at their age, they can get their own. When did sample bars become buffets???

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      That is why jfood NEVER takes any unwrapped mints from the register area of restaurants. He once read an article that there are more grms there than...

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        I am SOOOOO with jfood on this. Ever since I read that report about the high 'fecal count' in the diner unwrapped mints, I haven't touched a single one. And, I constantly see people digging their hands into those things and ignoring the spoon that you're supposed to use. Yuck!

                                        1. re: mschow

                                          Avoid the spoon, too, because I've seen kids put it in their mouths. It's not a bowl of cereal! Let's be honest, though--the mints aren't even worth eating to begin with.

                                2. re: Stillwater Girl

                                  I wouldn't condone saying nothing, but barking will not help this guy be a better person in the future. One wishes, there were better ways to point out to people that their actions are inconsiderate to others. Unfortunately, these days, people seem to respond with anger any time they are told they are anything less than the delight their parents think/thought them to be.

                  2. That is a funny one. Ive seen some interesting things at Trader Joes. People camp out in front of the samples and while waiting just dig their hand into bowls of cookies or whatever is there while they are waiting for hot food. Crazy.

                    The worst I have seen is at Whole Foods where one guy was standing for a while standing over a jar of salsa dipping tortilla chips in and letting the salsa fall from his lips and chip right back down into the jar. Almost threw up in my mouth.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: yankeefan

                      I had to throw away an entire batch of crab dip because an overzealous sampler decided to "double dip" his ritz cracker straight into the entire batch, rather than ask for a small sample cup more. Needless to say, I kept subsequent batches UNDER the counter after that.

                      1. re: yankeefan

                        The Whole Foods in our neck of the woods is filled with these types of people, especially on the weekends - which is why I try to avoid going there then.

                        I remember recently the meat counter was so crowded with people that I thought I was going to have to wait forever to get served. Come to find out they were all there for the free sausage samples. I was the only person there to actually order meat.

                        I am pretty sure that a lot of people go into my Whole Foods ONLY for the samples, never intending to buy a thing. A friend in Chicago says this is actually one of her mother's favorite activities while visiting the city. It bugs me.

                        1. re: JenBoes

                          I'm all for grazing but it's getting out of control.


                      2. Alka, years ago I worked as a demonstrator during the holidays for extra money, and you would not believe the rudeness I have seen. People not only taking multiple samples, but a;also hovering .... and sticking fingers in the pans.

                        The worst was this one guy who stood there for several minutes, waiting for me to pull a small tray of lamb chops out of the little oven I had at my station... the minute I pulled it out, and before I could grab my knife to cut up the chops this guy reached over with a fork he pulled from his pocket ( not a plastic one either) and stabbed a couple and walked away!

                        1. I was in a Whole Foods cafeteria last month when I saw a kid - maybe 6 or 7 - grabbing handfuls of the samples and stuffing them in his mouth. I laughed at that, but then his mom came over with a paper bag from the bakery area and asked him which ones he liked best. He pointed at an entire tray of pound cake samples. She walked up and emptied about half the tray into her paper bag and walked away. Astonishing.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: RosemaryHoney

                            Amazingly bad behavior.
                            Haven't seen anything that egregious in my local WF or TJ, but one time I did see a homeless (or just really unkempt and dirty) person walk into Panera and grab a whole handful of bread samples. Made me think twice about eating samples unless they are located somewhat within eyeshot of an employee...

                            1. re: BeeZee

                              Rosemary- Sickening that a parent would do that but that sad part is that I am not surprised. I got to a WF in a high end location and have seen this kind of thing all the time. People just love getting away with free goods.

                              Beezee- If there is ever a time where I can 'understand' that kind of performance, it is from homeless. Still nasty but at least I get it. There is no excuse for a well off middle aged woman with kids that is setting that starndard for that kid.

                              Ill get off my soapbox because I wont lie Ive enjoyed many a free sample. But Ive been defeated by them often- on many many occassions at Trader Joes Ill just grab whatever is there and realize it is delicious and end up buying far more than I wanted that day.

                            2. re: RosemaryHoney

                              I sometimes go grocery shopping with my friend and her two toddlers. If they ask for a roll or donut or even sushi, she makes it a point to go to the line, pay, and give her kids the reciept for what they are eating.

                              They caught on- when her 2 year old saw another child plucking grapes and eating them- he shook his head and said 'his mommy didn't pay- why is he allowed?'

                              1. re: cheesecake17

                                That's great! Stories of smart parenting on chowhound, amongst all the horror stories, make me smile.

                            3. In my twenties I worked for Whole Foods and saw some astounding behavior regarding samples. The time an elderly woman licked her fingers BEFORE retrieving a cube of cheese, then decided to put that one back and choose another, well, that turned me off eating samples ever again. She completely ignored the toothpicks, and proceeded to do this, "No, not that one, this one..." over and over, licking her fingers in between cubes, contaminating the entire tray no doubt.