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Are you a sample abuser?

I'd like to think most of us are not, but am sure we have all stood in line behind someone just like this. It ranks right up there with standing behind someone in a long line, who finally reaches the counter and is still contemplating what to order!


I'd say proper use of a sample, in this case, would be to choose between X and Y...not to eat half a cone as you sample your way through 31 flavors. And I'll bet we're all in agreement here. But this is a funny clip just the same.

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  1. Lord no! As LD said - two samples maximum (of flavors I've not yet tried).

    2 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit

      And how IS the vanilla?! HA HA!

      I love the (usually unspoken) wisdom of LD. He says the things we're all silently thinking and seething about.

      1. re: kattyeyes

        I was never a fan of the show, but on this particular YouTube snippet, he was spot on! (And I'm partial to Butter Pecan *or* something with Heath Bars in it <g>).

    2. Bah humbug...They NEVER have rhubarb. :-(

      1. There was a scene in a movie or an episode of a TV series in which there was a challenge to get 10-20 samples and then leave. It might have been Friends with the LD connection.

        1. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, the local dept. store, Lazarus, had a wonderful "gourmet" market located in a whole small building that always featured samples of meats, cheeses, olives, antipasto, etc. We girls always wanted money for clothes or accessories, not to spend on food. The parental units used to give us a set amount of money, $1 for the round trip bus fare (told you this was LONG time ago), a couple bucks for lunch and a treat from the fancy candy/nut counter for the ride home. Well, were pre-teens, still into toys, or magazines.

          Anyway, we always took our lunch at the gourmet shop. A horde of 6-8 pre-teens would descend on the shop and we ate like locusts sampling the appetizers, mains and dessert treats. Of course they knew us, but instead of being mean and chasing us away, I am pretty sure they were generous with their samples. After all, we always came home broke, we just spent our money elsewhere in the store!

          1. I worked at an ice cream shop one summer when I was growing up (local, non-chain), and the manager had a firm limit on samples (3 or 4, don't remember which), precisely to prevent those who wanted to eat their fill off sample spoons from doing so.

              1. The Costco lady samplers give me the hairy eyeball when I reply (to "would you like to sample to bread") - 'No thanks. I have tasted it before.

                Apparently people come there and have their evening meals from the sample carts. They sometimes do buttered toast. Toast? Orowheat bread - what does it taste like.

                \The women tell me the worst abusers are the older men. Many trips to the same cart always with the same unclever lines... "What's on the menu tonight Marge?" as they try to butter them up for, perchance, an extra dollop of Que Bueno cheese goo on the tortilla chip.

                If only they expended that sort of energy on their wives' nightly feasts.

                I digress.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Sal Vanilla

                  I envy those guys that can do that. I max out at two sample from the same cart before an overwhelming sense of embarrassment gets to me.

                  And are my 'clever' remarks really that cheesy?

                  Don't answer that.

                  1. re: Paulustrious

                    Old guys Paul - they can get away with anything mostly because they do not give a rip what others think.

                    I admire the wisdom of that.

                    1. re: Sal Vanilla

                      kind of reminds me of Frank on "Everybody Loves Raymond"!

                    2. re: Paulustrious

                      Speaking of cheesy....the cheese market sampler is a real pita!
                      For the love of brie...buy the cheese!

                  2. i get grossed out at trader joe's watching people walking around eating. yuk.

                    1. I could probably be considered a sample abuser as I have been known to make a meal out of samples at Whole Foods and such. But only the ones just sitting there on trays - if it involves taking up someone else's time, be it an employee or someone standing behind me, I limit it to one and keep it snappy.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: mordacity

                        I do this as well. Of course, half the problem is that I only ever seem to go to Whole Foods when I'm hungry (you know how they say never go grocery shopping when hungry). But I've also bought a few items from those sample trays, such as the bruschetta spread and the pimiento cheese, which are now two of my favorite "special treats" to myself from WF.

                        I think a lot of the sample trays, the cheeses and breads especially, are just to get rid of old/extra product, because they always seem to have the same cheeses (robusto, parrano, gruyere special reserve, seaside cheddar, etc.), desserts and breads out for sampling. I do make it a point to try the stuff I've never had before because of the good products I've discovered previously from sampling.

                        ETA: I only take one or two samples from any given tray. I would never hover or go back a second time! And I would never stick my whole hand in any food. Just wanted to clarify...it's the abundance of different samples and not the abundance of ONE sampled food that I'm guilty of. :o)

                        Most of the stuff that's from manned stations, I haven't liked at WF, so I tend to stay away from those!

                        1. re: yfunk3

                          Lol! Mini-firefly calls whole foods "the lunch store" her grandpa takes her when grandma wants a nap! :)

                      2. I don't have that privilege =(. I don't have a Costco membership and there's isn't a Whole Foods near me. The only thing close is at a local Chinese supermarket but they only have like frozen dumplings or packaged soup so not exactly something great tasting...

                        1. I think it is extremely tacky to take more than one sample. The Whole Foods in Bedford, MA is in a fairly high-income area. Saturdays, when there are a lot of samples out, I see many soccer moms leading the kids around the store and letting them take handfuls of the samples, like that is their lunch. At the same store, I once saw a guy just grab a handful of cheese cubes, to heck with using toothpicks. I just grabbed the plate and took it to the cheese counter saying, "You need to wash this." and told them why.

                          I'm starting to feel like an old fart because oversampling really is low-rent to me.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: three of us

                            There was a Food Detective show with Ted Allen where they sampled bar foods for bacteria. I can't remember everthing they checked, peanuts, goldfish, etc., but cheese was the worst.

                            1. re: three of us

                              "At the same store, I once saw a guy just grab a handful of cheese cubes, to heck with using toothpicks."

                              One of our local supermarkets was offering samples at the deli counter of cheese cubes that had toothpicks stuck in them. The lady ahead of me took one, ate it directly off the toothpick, then put the used toothpick back in the same container with the cheese samples. She did this with a second, third, and fourth sample, each time depositing the used toothpick in the container and ignoring the trash can provided for that purpose. I like free food as much as the next person but decided I'd pass on those cheese samples.

                              1. re: three of us

                                This is how I feel about the few times I've been in Costco on Saturday morning.

                              2. I hate the whole idea of samples. I think out of all the opportunities I've had at the grocery, the Sam's Club, and whatever, I've eaten maybe two samples. I don't like having to walk around with the toothpick, I feel funny about taking a freebie and not buying the product, and mostly I'm not at all interested in the packaged food they're hawking.

                                No samples at all for me.

                                1. I think samples are a great idea. (I've never taken more than two of something though.) It also works. I've definitely purchased products after partaking of the sample. Most of my sampling comes from weekend trips to Costco and the Korean Supermarket.

                                  I do like employee supervised samples. The unsupervised ones is always going to be more unsanitary.

                                  1. I was heartbroken to hear one of my widowed co-workers tell me that her "date" this weekend took her to Sam's Club for a "lunch" of samples and then took her to the local soup kitchen "The Lord's Diner" for an early supper. And then he wanted to come into her house for a drink and dessert.
                                    I suggested she get call-block.
                                    As for me, I generally eat before I go to the store, so it's rare that I want to try the samples. My daughters always try them, but they know to take only one and say "Thank you".

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: podunkboy

                                      podunk, his drink and dessert would be an ice cold garden hose on full blast, and pepper spray if he did not leave promptly.

                                      1. Weekends at Costco are quite an amusing show of piggish behaviours, with the different samples. Anyone who's been there and seen it, you KNOW what I mean here! *LOL*
                                        The people who hover at the sample areas, with the ginormous carts, (who are -right- in the isle, making it hard to get around) and multitude of small children, or distracted older folks make me just shake my head and walk quickly away. I do sample, but one only. It's only once convinced me to buy an actual item!

                                        What my next question is: In the early 1990's, I used to work for a woman who hosted samples of fresh California fruit like nectarines, plums and pears. I worked at the Gelson's in the Valley, on Ventura Blvd. Back then, I was instructed to NEVER give it to a child -without- permission from the parent. We could tell children NO, and I did. I told them to bring Mommy or Daddy back, to ask me. I was glad, when most parents were happy that I told the children no, to get the adults. (I mean, who wants a stranger giving their kids food in a store, without knowledge of WHAT it is??)
                                        This seems to be totally different from how Costco works. Kids run willy-nilly up and back, they take samples and eat, get more. All without the parental supervision. Isn't that a lawsuit waiting to happen, if a kid grabs and eats something they shoulden't? What about choking on said food?

                                        Perhaps I think too much about these things

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Honeychan

                                          I really resent the sample hoverers if the product looks like something I might like. I don't take samples just because they're free, especially at Costco. If I'm going to pony up $10 for a mega box of food, I'd better be damn sure it's going to get eaten!

                                          I agree with you about the kids, too. I wouldn't ever have wanted my kid to take food from strangers, or to be grabbing food anyway because of the rudeness of it.

                                          TJ's has sucked me in more than once, though, with their samples. But on the other hand, I've found things I didn't like, hence didn't buy then return. So it seems the store wins both ways.

                                          1. re: Honeychan

                                            At the Costco near me, the sample carts have signs saying kids under 12 or 13 (can't remember which) have to be with a parent to sample. This doesn't stop customers from yelling at the sample ladies for not giving their kids samples when they set them loose to run around the store.

                                            I wouldn't do that sample job without a can of mace and a baseball bat.

                                            1. re: Honeychan

                                              I'm often asked at costco, "are you with someone?" they do NOT let kids take samples, even to the point of asking me if I've got a parent on hand. [being oblivious, my response was, "yeah, my husband"]

                                            2. Food samples are provided to those for sampling, yes I do abuse them and will continue, so long as somebody elses money is providing.

                                              1. Gosh I'm probably guilty to some degree when I go to a killer cheese counter like Zingerman's and The cheese guy cuts samples to order and hands me ten types of goat cheese. They are razor thin and since I typically don't leave until I have melted my CC I don't think the store see's it as abuse but rather a good sales tactic. I never sample any thing I'm really not interested in buying.
                                                OTOH I just don't get the the grazing at Costco and have nearly been in a serious cart accident or two by crazed grazers running for the sample cart oblivious to every one else around them.
                                                It reminds me of shoveling hay off the back of the truck to the cows as a kid.

                                                1. I won't go to costco on weekends, 1. for the crowds. 2. for the sample hogs. Can't stand them clogging up the end of the isles. Besides, they won't buy any of the sample stuff anyway. If you ever want to really experience sample heaven get yourself put on the admissions list for FSA or SYSCO food shows, that's what they are for. You gotta be in the biz though.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                                                    OOOOOOOOH the agony of being forced to go to a Sysco food show.
                                                    I was an Exec Chef for Hilton and every freaking thing was supposed to come from Sysco. If I never ever have to deal with Sysco again It will be to soon.

                                                  2. I find that old people are the worst sample hogs at Whole Foods and Costco. Following that are the middle-aged upper-middle class slightly beer belly man. I irks me so much when you can pinpoint these people who you know are not grocery shopping but rather going to the store entirely for the samples.

                                                    Maybe I'm stereotyping but that's why stereotypes are formed...

                                                    On the other hand, while I don't think it's ok to take a lot of samples of something, as long as you're grocery shopping, it's a lot more acceptable than the piglets i mentioned above. The funny thing is these people don't think others notice them. It's funny seeing employees observing them, too.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Jacey

                                                      I worked with the middle-aged man you're talking about. Back when I was working in IT, we'd go to Costco every week for the hot dog and pizza lunch in the food area, then browse the store and meet up outside at a specified time. Brad was so proud that he'd never bought a membership (piggybacked on one of us to get in) and could make a meal of samples. He was disgusting in so many other ways that this didn't surprise me at all.

                                                    2. Myself, I almost never sample.

                                                      My father got cut off by one of the sample ladies at Costco after his third chocolate, and rightfully so.

                                                      People only get their nose out of joint because they know that "a sample" is "one" and they got caught and perhaps embarrassed.

                                                      1. I see sample abuse a lot at my local Whole Foods. The worst was the older woman with her gold jewlery and fur coat who took ALL the chocolate cookie samples from the tray. She literally took a fistful, stepped away to shovel the lot into her mouth and then went back (same hand that was just in her mouth) and grabbed 2 more fistfuls. Nothing left on the tray after that.

                                                        For god's sakes - if you like them THAT much, buy a box! You can obviously afford it! And don't reach back with the same hand that was on your mouth - that's like double dipping! EEWWW!

                                                        1. My name is jessicheese and I'm a sample addict.....
                                                          I do limit it to only one and keep it to thing that I know that I'll like, but yeah... i totally dig samples. TJ's sample section is my biggest weakness. There's so exciting about seeing something i have wanted to try available for sampling! I get the little thing of coffee and everything. In my defense, I have found many new favorites there and have found its a good way to get my toddler to try something new. He loved the mahi burgers there and now there's a form of fish that I can get him to eat!
                                                          On a similar note, I have to try every type of hors d'oeuvre at a cocktail hour. After a few drinks, I am downright stalkish. Probably a confession for a different thread, though.....

                                                          1. ugh, sample hogs! I do a festival every summer (folk culture, so food from that culture is demonstrated) and I swear they lurk behind the trees (we are outside) like ninjas! As soon as a specific pie comes out, they swarm us like ants at a picnic. We are supposed to be educating the public but some of them are so brazen--one lasy grabbed up a display slice with the fork and tucked right in--they really want to get their $7 admissions worth, and have absolutely no shame.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: dberg1313

                                                              One year I was working at the CRFA show, on the Sunday they allow some culinary school students to attend. I had stayed up the night before mixing 30 "flavours" of display ice cream and gelato. They were literally Crisco and food colouring. Any way after a rush the woman manning the stand realized someone had eaten HALF of a display sundae. I really wish I'd seen the look on that person's face! :)

                                                              1. re: harrie

                                                                sample shunner as well. last sample was 'kale chip"--- but i do politely say" no thank you" to the sample person. My best friend conducts samples for a liquor co and has she got the tales!

                                                              2. No. To me a sample means 1.

                                                                1. i have handed out samples.

                                                                  it is a thankless job.

                                                                  and, it has cured me of taking samples.
                                                                  one "word": AAACCHHHOOOOOOO!!!

                                                                  trust me people. you DON'T want samples.

                                                                  1. At the ice cream parlour, I will take 1 maybe 2 samples. At Costco I will take 1 but if it really interests me my husband does not really go for samples but if I like it he will always grab one for himself and let me eat it!

                                                                    1. I take a sample at Costco if I am interested in the product. Mostly, I decline. I had an experience with a sample abuser yesterday. A spicy chicken sample was being offered and the demonstrator was giving rather generous portions. Several people were ahead of me and, one in particular took the largest one and stood there eating it and would not move out of the way to let anyone else get their first sample. I asked her (while she had the second sample in her mouth) if she could let others have a chance and she glared at me asking me "why, are you hungry?" I'm not sure why my hunger level was relevant to her lack of manners, but that was an experience I hope to soon forget!

                                                                      I take a sample, and move out of the way. I always say thank you to the person offering the sample.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Kate is always hungry

                                                                        "Why, are you hungry?" You should have told her your name. ;)

                                                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                          LOL That would work with most English as first language people. Even though she appeared to be fluent in English, I was aware that it was not her native language and so subtleties may be lost on her. She and I were of the same ethnicity but, due to my grandparents having left her country about a hundred years ago, culturally different. Based on her demeanor and response to me, I'm pretty sure she saw me as just a dumb American.

                                                                      2. I have seen the most foodie persons' gobbling up samples like there is no tomorrow. 2 weeks ago. at a whole foods& then at the trader joes( across the street from one another in cambridge ma. fresh pond)
                                                                        they were extremely rude to the sample providers& they were not children under 10!!!!!! adults, mind you!!!!!