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How do you feel about people eating food in the supermarket before they pay for it?

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Saw someone doing this today. I, personally, don't like it. I'm just curious how other folks feel about it, and why.

  1. (If the people are really paying for it , in general, no problem, but If the people just come in and pick something eat it and leave, that is wrong.)

    I sometimes eat the baguette tip before going to the cashiers...

    If it's a weighted produce, it should be no, but if you buy a bag of grapes and eat 1 or 2 while browsing the aisles, why not; it's kind of the same as tasting/eating grapes from the presentation bin.

    If it's a fixed price and you just pick in (cereals, cookies), while being tacky, it's no biggie; I've seen a lot of parents do that for their kids.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Maximilien

      Oh Maxi, I thought I was the only one that ate the tip of the baguette while walking around the market.

      I don't particularly mind others but don't spit out the cherry pits on the floor like I saw one senior do!

    2. In case you're curious about how people's feelings on this topic have evolved over the years:

      [September 2006] Snacking on one's own groceries at the supermarket...
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/323691

      [September 2008] Do you find people who eat at the grocery while shopping rude?
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/556926

      1. ... I doubt most people who eat in the store actually pay for it. As such, my sympathies for them are equivalent to my sympathies for thieves.
        ... Have you seen good paying customers stealing veggies (or bananas) for their children? [a friend of mine worked in a small town grocery. it happened often.]

        4 Replies
        1. re: Chowrin

          I wouldn't be so quick to assume that. I have on occasion eaten a snack bar or candy bar or part of a bag of chips while shopping, being sure to openly keep the wrapper or bag in the cart as if it were a purchase and present it to the cashier, when I'm having a terrible blood-sugar crash and can hardly think straight without eating right away (this tends to happen if I'm shopping for dinner on the way home from work and didn't eat lunch, which happens....). I know it's tacky, but if I'm desperate, I'll do it. I've never had a cashier look surprised, interestingly, which suggests that i'm not the only one who does it and is honest about it!

          1. re: Kitchen Imp

            if your health is endangered, all is forgiven (and you shouldn't feel bad. AT ALL. The store, I'm sure, would rather have you eat a bit, rather than crash.). For all my bitching, I don't want anyone to have to go to the hospital when the solution was right in front of everyone's face.

            1. re: Chowrin

              YES, sometimes I give my dd a banana in the store. we always offer to pay for it though.

              1. re: fara

                Nowadays one can ring up and put a sticker on the bag, so the cashier can charge you the total amount of the produce before you eat it.

                It might be hard for a cashier to decide whether to give it to you free of charge or to charge you a certain amount that she might not know.

        2. Don't eat Jelly Beans @ Albertson's.......

          http://consumerist.com/2007/10/dont-e...

          1. I recently saw a woman going around a big display of apples, taking a bite out of one and putting it back. I saw her do this twice but there was no store worker around to tell and I wasn't about to say anything to her.

            15 Replies
            1. re: LikestoEatout

              Oh good grief!

              1. re: LikestoEatout

                In high school, my friends and I went to the grocery store and watched a kid (probably7-8 years old) take a bite out of each flavor of bagel from the bins and put them back. It took me many years before I could bring myself to shop the bulk bins again!

                1. re: LikestoEatout

                  Good decision. You never know how a person will react (now-a-days).

                  1. re: LikestoEatout

                    Nice. I once saw a produce guy, who worked at the grocery store, picking his ears while arranging the apples. I was nauseated by it (he was really digging in them and did it several times) and alerted management.

                    1. re: lynnlato

                      Last week I saw something like this, but in another part of the body. I was nauseated, too. And turned away. This guy wasn't a worker, but he was checking out produce .... you get my drift.

                      I thought about it later when I saw a woman picking up almost every tomato in the bin to choose the right one. I definitely washed my produce extra well that day with that uppermost in my mind.

                      1. re: lynnlato

                        You do realize that the folk picking your produce are lucky to have a Johnny on the Spot when they're out in the fields?
                        Wash everything like it all was touched by one of the vast majority of people who do not wash their hands after using the facilities.
                        Gross, I know, but it's what you DO NOT SEE that should scare you.

                        1. re: monavano

                          How well I know. Not all relates to humans.
                          One winter we stayed in Arizona beside a field of lettuce. A dog was running up and down the rows, feet on each side of the heads of lettuce and belly gliding along all the tops of all the lettuce.
                          We laughed of course, but it has remained in my mind for years.

                          1. re: Rella

                            I even wash rinds, like canteloupe and watermelon. Lord knows that knife will drag bacteria from the rind to the flesh. I even balk at the farmers markets that have lots of samples as I swear, about 3 years ago, I got a really bad cold=>pneumonia just days after sampling. I know, I will never know for sure, but it was highly suspect.

                            1. re: monavano

                              I wash rinds, too. I would NEVER take a slice of a sample from a person's knife at the farmers markets, especially if his wife has been changing the kid's diapers in eye-sight, or a favorite dog nearby is getting petted every few seconds while we're chatting.

                              I have got sick myself from food. Since I started juicing a few days ago, I am aware of how well my fruit and veggies have to be prepped. In addition I add lemon juiced, which in my miind helps a bit.

                              Even though I always clean my salad, I do add lemon most often as I feel it helps against some bacteria.

                          2. re: monavano

                            Yes, of course. That is why I wash tomatoes, apples, cucumbers, etc. with soap and water. Someone once gave me shit for this here on CH (saying the soap was more harmful that the germs/bacteria) but I would rather ingest a miniscule amount of soap then Bubba's ear wax, thank you very much.

                            1. re: lynnlato

                              Ha!! I'm glad I'm not alone. Normally, I'm not too much of a germaphobe.

                              1. re: lynnlato

                                which is your right, but you may not be choosing the healthier alternative

                                1. re: thew

                                  It's a chance I'm willing to take, Thew.

                                  And I'm not typically a germaphobe either, but kids and their little hands are nasty. And so is Bubba and his ear wax.

                                2. re: lynnlato

                                  Bubba's ear wax will be on his TRUCK KEYS, not his knife or fingers.

                                  1. re: ricepad

                                    <FACEPALM>

                          3. I will sometimes buy a drink I consume while I shop. I used to be thirsty all the time because of a medication I was taking (too much of). I always pay for it when I get to the register, and I assume others do likewise.

                            Sometimes I'll taste a cherry or a grape. I bought so many cherries this summer that turned out to be rotten when I got them home, the store owes me a couple of pounds.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Jay F

                              I also might open a drink if I'm really thirsty. Don't remember eating anything unless it's been samples.

                            2. I think I've stated my view in previous versions of this thread so I'll just keep it short.

                              In my opinion, it is uncouth to consume anything in a store that hasn't been paid for yet, other than a sample that is offered or asked for in stores where they'll cut something open for you.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: Lixer

                                I agree. Public is public -- putting up with other people's unseemly and uncouth habits. (Both those words sound a little old-fashioned, don't they? Too bad.) But, a grocery is a place to buy clean contained food and carry it home--it's not a restaurant or a street fair. Parents can anticipate the needs of kids (of course with little ones there's a lot of leeway) and their own hunger before they enter a food store. I don't want sticky crumby surfaces and packages when I choose my purchases, cart, etc.

                                1. re: BangorDin

                                  a special shout out to those who might be hypoglycemic, and need the sugar NOW! (yes, you're supposed to have something... but...)

                                  1. re: Chowrin

                                    Sure, of course, any emergency is an exception. Also when the store itself provides samples -- in one area with little cups and napkins and wastebaskets.

                                    It's the meanderin' around shoppin' and snackin' that puts me off. Picture a supermarket scene with *everybody* eating from an open food package, or chomping on produce. Now look down at the floor. eek

                                    If something is OK for one it should be OK for all, and this just isn't practical, so nobody should.

                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                      Exactly! Didn't see this before I posted above.

                                      ETA - that "exactly" was intended for Chowrin's comment about hypoglycemia.

                                    2. re: BangorDin

                                      again this argument from the extreme - if there are no sticky crumby surfaces or packaging left behind is it ok, or still a nono? if it isn't a nono, then your issue is the mess not the eating. if it is still a nono, then why bring up the mess and packaging?

                                      1. re: thew

                                        Both are nonos--

                                        The merchandise in a store isn't yours until you pay for it. "Borrowed" for 30 minutes or stolen outright, but *not yours*. You have no right to sell it or eat it -- it isn't yours.

                                        You may have mentally decided to own the cookies and pay for them in a few minutes. But that transfer of ownership only took place in your head. In real life you are eating cookies that belong to the store. I don't think many groceries would adopt a "if it's eaten in the store, it's yours" policy! They just let a few people get away with "early eating" -- to be nice, to keep customers, whatever.

                                        Of course most people don't take advantage of the store's tolerant policy, and most probably don't spill their food.

                                        But... if it's OK for me to eat in the aisle, then it's OK for Everybody. And hundreds a day walking, eating & pushing carts, will make a mess. Gravity will take care of that.

                                        I think that's why *any* formal or informal law exists -- to keep us from being victimized by others who *don't think the rules apply to them.* Or are just too short-sighted to realize that a Frito crushed here and there will turn into movie theatre floor.

                                        1. re: BangorDin

                                          "I think that's why *any* formal or informal law exists -- to keep us from being victimized by others who *don't think the rules apply to them.* Or are just too short-sighted to realize that a Frito crushed here and there will turn into movie theatre floor"

                                          you hit the nail on the head. i have no problem with people eating, as long as they 1.) respect their environment by not leaving a mess, etc and 2.) pay for the item before leaving the market. can we believe everyone will adhere to these formal/informal rules? probably not...that's why the societal norm of not eating food before paying in a supermarket exists. look up the free rider problem. adhering to this is not being self righteous or overly rigid...now, if i suggest that in ALL cases we should adhere to these rules, then im being narrow minded. the social world is not black and white. That's why we do see a few people here and there eating in the aisles with no repercussions. however, if the norm was to allow all people in all cases to eat their food before buying, do we have enough faith that there will not be a significant amount of free riders abusing these norms? i dont think we do, that's why for the most part people pay for their food and eat them afterwards.

                                          1. re: majordanby

                                            but that is not what bangordin is saying at all. ze does have a problem with it even if 1) they make a mess, and 2) plan on paying

                                      2. re: BangorDin

                                        I've noticed that in a few grocery stores that cleaning wipes dispensers are left near the shopping carts. I really appreciate that. Now I wish the grocery stores would clean out the baskets a little better.

                                    3. Thanks for your responses, everyone. I suppose I need to give A LITTLE bit more leeway, to accommodate the folks who might peck at a grape or two, on the way to the counter, or the folks with kids who may whine & kick up a royal fuss until their Mom lets them have SOMETHING. But in this case, the woman was eating some sort of candy bar or energy bar, and ended up handing this half-eaten thing, with crumbs falling out & a sloppily crumpled wrapper, to the cashier to ring up. (She also declined taking a bag, despite the fact that she had multiple items, and proceeded to drop her stuff all the way out of the store). At that moment, I felt like it was generally rude, and in poor taste to do it. I tried to catch myself, though, because I know I tend to be rather conservative on such issues pertaining to how one behaves in public, so I wanted to get a read on how others felt about it. I think my brother used to do this (perhaps he still does?), and it used to drive me crazy: Opening up the pack of cookies he's going to buy, or handing a half-eaten bag of chips to the cashier to ring up. I used to always be like "Can't you wait? It's not yours until you've bought it!!!". We're different like that, though. He never saw the harm. After reading everyone's responses, I can see where there might be exceptions that aren't immediately classified as rude; I suppose it's just the egregious offenses that get to me. I don't think I've ever seen anyone finish something & not pay for it, so I suppose society hasn't crumbled to an irreparable state just yet. Just these little moments that make me wonder. Thank you all again for your comments.

                                      1. I work in the grocery business. People do it all of the time, it isn't going to stop and most don't pay for it later.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                          Damn. Well, that's just messed-up. Maybe society IS crumbling after all...

                                          1. re: eric.hope

                                            Its no worse than it was 20 years ago.

                                        2. I will open a package I am going to buy and snack from it while I wait in line. And, if I have an unhappy baby with me, I will make a beeline to the teething biscuits or juice aisle or whereever and give that baby what it needs for the sake of everyone in the store.

                                          Whether I pay before or after I open the package is immaterial so long as I pay for what I consumed. And I DO. I have had cashiers run empty packaging. So what?

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: rainey

                                            I'm pretty sure the cashiers would prefer not to see this develop into a trend. The store managers, too, because if it becomes common practice for everyone to snack while they shop, there will be a lot more casual theft where people ditch the open/empty packages somewhere before checking out. This is already difficult to control, and we all pay for it.

                                            For now, I hardly ever notice any adults eating in the supermarket, so I don't care. If you need that snack in the check-out line, whatever.

                                            1. re: rainey

                                              I have done this many times. I think the employees would rather see a kid with an open box of granola bars (which the parent is paying for) than having one scream their way up and down the isles.

                                              1. re: MamaCrunch

                                                As a mother of two, I'd actually rather see a child taught good manners and patience than need to be given food all the time to keep them quiet. And some folks wonder why there is a childhood obseity problem in the U.S. (Okay, I know the obseity issue is a stretch, but my main point was kids can be taught to behave and wait).

                                                But all in all, as long a someone isn't infringing on my ability to shop in a clean orderly environment I won't get worked about any of it. Now if I was the cashier and had to touch their half eaten protein bar...

                                            2. Why would anyone be concerned about what other people do in a supermarket? (Unless they offer me a taste).

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: beevod

                                                Why? There's just been a book published on what gets under people's skin and why (http://annoyingbook.com/), and the authors have boiled it down to four basic categories: impolite personal habits, inconsiderate activities, intrusive behaviors, and rule breaking. This kind of behavior falls into at least two of those categories and it is thus completely natural that it annoys people.

                                                1. re: BobB

                                                  see - now you've taken what is being discussed, and announced your answer to the question as a given. If was a given that this behavior is impolite, inconsiderate, and intrusive, we would not need to have the conversation.

                                                  1. re: thew

                                                    Yes, I'm rather good at that, aren't I? ;-)

                                                    But seriously - while the question of whether this behavior fits into the first three categories is, I agree, arguable, the fourth is undeniable. Even those in this discussion who admit doing it from time to time generally agree that they're breaking the rules in service of a higher cause (staving off a diabetic collapse, preventing a child's tantrum, etc).

                                                    I challenge you to find a grocery anywhere who will tell you, "yes, it's OK for people to eat stuff off the shelves before they pay for it."

                                              2. I have never opened a package of food and munched while shopping. I am guilty of buying grapes/cherries and tasting ONE to make sure it is Ok. Grapes more so, I tried one last week that was so bitter-I never would have been able to finish the bag, and it wasn't obvious by sight. But otherwise I never pick at the salad bar, bulk bin etc... People generally lack so much common sense or just don't care...

                                                1. One potential mess on the horizon is the automatic weighing of every item to cut down on theft...especially in self-checkout lines. The weight of every box is entered into the computer, and many self-check lines are on a scale that weighs and verifies every item against the spreadsheet in the computer.

                                                  If you have a box of granola bars and eat one of them, that box is going to register as out of spec and will lock the terminal until someone comes over to override it. Chances are they'd override it anyway, but it's coming....

                                                  ...ditto for European stores where you have to weigh the produce yourself before the scale prints a barcode....the checkout scale will try to doublecheck the weight, and guess what....

                                                  1. I look at this as three different issues within this one question. Stealing vs. snacking.

                                                    If people eat something and don't pay for it then it's stealing plain and simple. It's no different from taking a package of something and stuffing it in your purse/pocket/whatever.

                                                    If someone is nibbling on something that they'll pay for then what do I care?? Have a lot more important things to do than worry about this.

                                                    If said person is eating and discarding seeds (as mentioned up stream) or garbage inappropriately then it too is wrong.

                                                    People who leave shopping carts in the middle of the parking lot instead of returning them to the corral is a much bigger issue for me.

                                                    DT

                                                    15 Replies
                                                    1. re: Davwud

                                                      "If someone is nibbling on something that they'll pay for then what do I care??"

                                                      There IS a distinction between what is yours and what is not. Sorry, but a lot of civilization depends on that!

                                                      1. re: BangorDin

                                                        Responding not personally to you, BangorDn, but because you touch on an issue I relate to.

                                                        Civilization also depends on responsible PEOPLE not automatrons who are subject to the rule of faceless corporations. If I meet the stores reasonable expectation to be paid for their merchandise they can meet my reasonable demand to be treated like an honorable human being.

                                                        If you and I were in a personal exchange and I said "mind if I have this now and I'll pay you on the way out" no doubt if you recognized me as a person who returns to your store weekly you'd say "sure". I expect no less from a corporation that probably takes close to $1K per month from me.

                                                        Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, one of our large grocery chains has been caught 3 times short weighting meats and ALL of the national chains here in Los Angeles locked out their employees at CHRISTMAS in a labor dispute. They then illegally hired them back during the course of the strike defrauding the Social Security Administration in the process.

                                                        I think a good dose of people (real and legal) behaving responsibly in a cordial and human fashion all around is in order. That's how I see this issue: me having an obligation to be responsible and the expectation that I should be treated as though I am.

                                                        1. re: rainey

                                                          I wrote this earlier:
                                                          "Picture a supermarket scene with *everybody* eating from an open food package, or chomping on produce. Now look down at the floor. eek
                                                          If something is OK for one it should be OK for all, and this just isn't practical, so nobody should." That's a pragmatic housekeeping point.
                                                          You wrote "Civilization also depends on responsible PEOPLE not automatrons who are subject to the rule of faceless corporations." I wrote "There IS a distinction between what is yours and what is not. " If shoppers decide to ignore the fact that the store owns the merchandise until it is purchased... c'mon, that's a pretty clear line. *People*, not automatrons, have decided there should be rules. If the corporation with which you trade $1000 a month is mean and sneaky, the people you directly deal with might not be.
                                                          I think businesslike behavior is appropriate in a business, snacking is fine in my living room.

                                                          1. re: BangorDin

                                                            nonsense. that sort of rule utilitarian logic has no weight. If everyone was a catholic priest the human race would die out due to celibacy - does that make being a priest immoral?

                                                            1. re: thew

                                                              Right on thew! The more I read this thread, the more laughs I'm getting. I just can't believe the self righteous CH's who get so worked up about someone taking a cookie from a bag while shopping and then pay for it on the way out! What the h... Is wrong with it????

                                                              1. re: josephnl

                                                                thew is funny and poignant!

                                                                1. re: josephnl

                                                                  Not worked up about cookie eaten while shopping, paid for soon after.

                                                                  Worked up about people thinking the rules don't apply to them. Even tiny rules -- civilizing polite obvious customary rules. (I'm sure I'm guilty of it every day!)
                                                                  I wish I could make my point clear here-- if 100 people doing something is a problem, then ONE person doing it is a problem too. That's just logical.

                                                                  1. re: BangorDin

                                                                    Nicely put.

                                                                    1. re: BangorDin

                                                                      If occasionally breaking a rule was my greatest sin, I would indeed be a saint. Breaking a rule once in while is, I think, pretty universal among civilized people. I believe it acually makes us more human.

                                                                  2. re: LeoLioness

                                                                    And down the rabbit hole we go!!

                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                      Thew, I am going to HAVE to quote that bit about being a Catholic priest. Too funny!

                                                              2. re: Davwud

                                                                You read my mind :)

                                                                1. re: Davwud

                                                                  Davwud...referring to your 3 part response way above: Perfectly stated. I agree completely!

                                                                  1. re: Davwud

                                                                    I agree on all points. And don't get me started on the abandoned carts! ;-)

                                                                    1. re: lynnlato

                                                                      Me too! How lazy can people be?
                                                                      (very, obviously)

                                                                  2. Unless someones behavior/actions directly impact me I could (try to) care less. Iam trying not to judge/notice the actions of others or their behavior. I've found that too many minor things annoy me that I'm trying to just relax and not be bothered.

                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                    1. re: viperlush

                                                                      I like your attitude. There are many ways other's selfishness and "stealing" are monetarily heaped on honest folks like me, but what can I do? Call the grape police?

                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                        If it bothers you, and you have a camera or a cellphone equipped with a camera, you could always try to steathily take a picture, perhaps holding the camera close to your hip, and post the photo online, email it to the store or show a store manager/employee. ;-)

                                                                        I'm very tempted to take a picture next time someone/someone's child touches unwrapped bread/unwrapped bagels/bulk food, and doesn't buy the unwrapped product that was touched.

                                                                        I don't care if people eat food they are planning to purchase.

                                                                        I wish people would not touch food that can't be washed, that they don't plan to buy, inappropriately. ;-)

                                                                        1. re: prima

                                                                          I totally agree about the kids handling unwrapped food. And I don't appreciate it when I have to duck to stay clear of kids playing catch with the produce. There is one local grocery store in particular where there is an abundance of this type of behavior with parents who seemingly don't see it or care. I won't buy anything but packaged items there anymore.

                                                                          1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                            Wha? Throwing produce? Outrageous whether they've paid for it or not, and a far cry from opening the box of crackers early that the OP was talking about b

                                                                            1. re: saacnmama

                                                                              Agreed, saacnmama, it is wildly inappropriate behavior, and much different than preventing a low-sugar meltdown with a couple of crackers. This particular store has the lowest prices of all local grocery stores and attracts a wide variety of shoppers, many with large families in tow. Apparently shopping is a taxing enough activity that the parents do not seem able to supervise their children so the produce as a softball or frisbee thing is not unusual at all. I hate going there.

                                                                          2. re: prima

                                                                            Stores usually put up signs saying "please don't sample from the bulk bin" "or please use paper to pick up items". Why don't they just add "please report violations"? Be like stadiums, the T, etc.and allow people to text/photo message the store. No need for you to confront the violator or take the extra time to track an employee down (unless you want to).

                                                                            1. re: viperlush

                                                                              why not have little prisons in the back of the store, and let customers use twist ties to handcuff violators and shove them in? then we can throw rotten fruit at them too. and post it to twitter, so the shame reverberates far past the doors of the store?

                                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                                ::giggles:: ...and then ducks the squishy peach. ;>

                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                  Sure if the store wants to. I'm just saying why get all bent out of shape about what others are do when the stores don't seem to care all that much? Stadiums have #'s to call/text if you encounter unruly fans, zoos have #'s to call/text if you encounter those bothering the animals. So if food stores really want to stop eaters why not offer the same? Display a clear "sampling/openning unpurchased items is stealing" sign at the entrance.

                                                                              2. re: prima

                                                                                I wish the last person who took out the bakery product had washed her hands even before she served it to me (with a paper guarding the fingertips). I saw her previously scratching her head, and putting one whole finger back into the back of her mouth digging something out of her teeth.

                                                                                No, I can't be bothered by these things. I try to relax too, by just paying for the item and toss it. Who wants to bother with these 'uncouth' people.

                                                                            2. re: viperlush

                                                                              What a wonderfully healthy and freeing attitude!

                                                                              1. re: viperlush

                                                                                Can you talk to my dad??

                                                                                DT

                                                                              2. A few months ago, in a large chain grocery store, three teen girls were putting antiperspirant on while giggling and standing in the otherwise empty aisle. I stood there, with my cell phone recording their actions. I told them (loudly) that was stealing and they laughed. They walked past me, 'accidentally' bumped and continued through the store, sampling, while I went to the manager on duty.

                                                                                It is a biggie. They learned it isn't wrong.

                                                                                You don't see 'starving' or hypoglycemic people or babies needing to open and eat before paying in other countries.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Cathy

                                                                                  "three teen girls were putting antiperspirant "

                                                                                  now that's just wrong. they might as well go to their nearby Macy's and start wearing their undergarments just for kicks.

                                                                                  1. re: Cathy

                                                                                    because foreign diabetics and foreign children are different....how?

                                                                                    (and yes, I *do* see people opening packages and digging in before they pay...all the time -- and I've seen it in France, Italy, Germany, and England)

                                                                                    Your example is absolutely shoplifting -- they opened and used the product without any intention of paying for it.

                                                                                    If they'd carried it to the checkout and paid for it, it would be pretty weird, but they paid for it.

                                                                                    Same with someone who opens a box of cookies for a hungry kid and pays for the opened box....not terribly well-mannered, but as long as they pay for it...

                                                                                  2. One word: Cheetos. This snack is the worst possible munchable consumed while shopping, and here's why. The nasty/greasy flourescent orange Cheetos-dust that accumulates on the fingers of the snacker will either be a) licked clean from the offending fingers (and likely re-immersed in fresh coating of Cheetos-dust with the next handful. Freshly-licked Cheetos-fingers on shopping carts and subsequent fruits/vegetables (think melons) that the offender will squeeze/test is not where I want to find an abominable imprint of orange crumbs and saliva. I've looked on as someone once 'rinsed' their hands on the wet heads of butter lettuce, after having their fill of bulk non-pareil chocolates. With the Cheetos, the orange crumb-grease is bad enough, but the saliva-rinsed fingers that follow is really the coup de grace (or coup disgrace, IMO)...

                                                                                    1. In Europe, the stall vendors pick the produce for you. You can turn it down or ask for another at the peril of a glare or "non!" Generally, the produce and fruit in particular at the markets I've been at there were outstanding. In the grocery stores, produce is all wrapped. No tastes allowed.

                                                                                      Here grazing is common but can be off-putting, particularly at places like Whole Foods or Berkeley Bowl where binned items are common. It would be nice if there were some etiquette around sampling from open and binned containers of everything from dried fruit to snack crackers. I find myself tasting grapes, berries, crackers but try to avoid touching other parts f the produce and items.

                                                                                      Farmers' markets have the best set up: pre-cut fruit and samples. You get an idea of flavor and sweetness.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: fatandgettingfatter

                                                                                        "It would be nice if there were some etiquette around sampling from open and binned containers..." I think there is some etiquette. You don't do it; it's called stealing.

                                                                                        1. re: dmjordan

                                                                                          and ditto with the cherries and grapes. it's still stealing, folks. Unless you talk to someone who works there, and get their approval first (in which case, you can be sure that the price will be added onto your bill.)

                                                                                      2. Now that I've adopted viperlush's attitude about not worrying about what others do, here are my rules for myself and my 10-year-old daughter (whose actions I am responsible for; my adult husband may fend for himself):

                                                                                        Eating or drinking (or using...eww!) anything without paying for it is stealing, whether it is a few grapes or entire package of something. Store-sponsored sample displays is the only exception.

                                                                                        It is not okay to eat in the store before paying because the item isn't mine to consume until I have purchased it. I have made an exception to this probably a handful of times when my daughter was quite young and I was unprepared with food. (She gets blood sugar crashes that turn her into a raving lunatic and the quickest remedy is protein i.e., string cheese or a cup of yogurt.) I also will on rare occasions allow her to open a bottle of water if she is extremely thirsty and a water fountain isn't handy. In either case (food or water), I will purchase more than one of them item so the cashier can ring up an unopened product and enter it twice, rather than have to deal with what has become our trash.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                                          Exactly, because at the end of the day you can only control your actions (And to an extent those you are with).

                                                                                          If I saw somone reaching into a bulk bin I would avoid it. But I'm not going to go out of my way to police my fellow shoppers or spend the time judging them. But I do think that if I saw someone "testing" items and placing them back on the shelf I would remove the used item and might give it to a store employee.

                                                                                          As for me I'll continue to faint in public when I misjudge my hunger, drink out of my water bottle while shopping, and hope that I don't get accused of shoplifting for carrying around (and snacking on) candy/granola bars brought from home. And if I ever get stuck food shopping with my 2 yr old nephew while he is throwing a tantrum, I hope my fellow shoppers have their earplugs.

                                                                                        2. reminds me of the hub bub a few years ago in a market near where I live

                                                                                          http://articles.latimes.com/2008/sep/...

                                                                                          1. It is theft, plain and simple, and I don't care what excuses people come up with to justify it. I have toddlers, if they can't handle shopping, I deal with it. My mom has diabetes, she keeps it under control and keeps her own stuff for emergencies in her purse.

                                                                                            You don't own it? Don't eat it! I don't care if you're planning to buy it, you don't own it yet.

                                                                                            1. Even if you pay for it later its very low class

                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: kpaxonite

                                                                                                While I don't agree that it's low class, you're entitled to that opinion. For those who think it's stealing, I just don't get it. If I pay for something that I ate in the store while still in the store, I don't see how it's stealing.

                                                                                                1. re: donovt

                                                                                                  Oh I fully agree if you pay for it it isn`t stealing at all (unless you eat a valuable amount of weighted produce..for example tasting a grape or two before buying them vs eating half the sack)...I just feel its crass it be walking around a supermarket eating a bag of chips.

                                                                                                  What would you think of someone got a rotisserie supermarket chicken and was walking around with whilst shopping chewing on a drumstick

                                                                                                  There is a time and PLACE for everything

                                                                                                  1. re: kpaxonite

                                                                                                    Weighted items are a completely different story. That's definitely stealing.

                                                                                                    1. re: kpaxonite

                                                                                                      "What would you think of someone got a rotisserie supermarket chicken and was walking around with whilst shopping chewing on a drumstick"

                                                                                                      i would think they were hungry and/or the chicken must be tasty. maybe it would make me buy some.

                                                                                                2. 35% want something for nothing

                                                                                                  28% pay for it

                                                                                                  23% think they are entitled to free stuff

                                                                                                  7% do it to shut their kids up, as a free public service

                                                                                                  4% are on anti-depressants and forage like zombies wherever they are

                                                                                                  3% are carefully shoplifting other items anyhow

                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                    While I'm assuming you made the numbers up (and I'm not trying to be negative or pick a fight) I think 100% of people want something for nothing :). Most of us just realize the world doesnt work that way!!

                                                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                      What about the small % of diabetics experiencing a low blood sugar? Hello? ;-)

                                                                                                      1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                                        Hopefully a person with low blood sugar would be carry some food- crackers, etc. just in case. What would they do if they weren't in the supermarket?

                                                                                                        1. re: Leslie

                                                                                                          low blood sugar doesn't follow rules...and while one can *try* to be prepared, that doesn't mean that your body is always going to care about anything else. If your sugar drops, you gotta do what you gotta do.

                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                            And you can carry a piece of hard candy or roll of Mentos in your purse, pocket or car. You could stand in line at the register and purchase some, opening it there and eating one piece as you are waiting to pay. Then go back to regular shopping keeping that hard candy where you won't forget it next time.

                                                                                                          2. re: Leslie

                                                                                                            they'd eat the sugar in the car. you can get arrested for taking crackers into a market. so don't do it.

                                                                                                            1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                              Citation, please, Chowrin?

                                                                                                              Every mother on this board has had crackers/pretzels/zwieback/cheerios in her bag that she let her toddler munch while at the grocery store, and not one of us has ever been arrested for doing so.

                                                                                                              1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                You can't get arrested for that where I live...

                                                                                                        2. This reminds me of the story a few years back about Alton Brown eating a couple of donut holes out of a package in a Kroger store in Atlanta. He inadvertenly put the box of donut holes aside while looking at something else. When he was leaving the store, they pulled him aside and almost arrested him for shoplifting. True story. He even blogged about it on his website (but it disappeared shortly thereafter) and after that he no longer filmed his show in Kroger stores.

                                                                                                          Of course, he wouldn't be caught dead eating donuts now anyway...

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: Leepa

                                                                                                            Here's a copy of his blog post:
                                                                                                            http://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopi...

                                                                                                            And it's a great example of why _not_ to snack while shopping. I understand about babies and blood sugar and all that, but that still leaves a lot of people who just really want to eat those donut holes, right here, right now. And they have every intention of paying for them, but between the intention and the check-out, who knows what could happen?

                                                                                                            AB admits that opening the box of donuts displayed a lack of "discipline and good manners". I agree with this. I don't care if you do it, I won't get all self-righteous and call the cops on you, but if I see someone eating your groceries in the aisle, this is what I tend to think about them. I don't see why this should bother them.

                                                                                                            AB also says "This could have happened to anyone". Wrong. People who control themselves for 5 minutes and wait until they're in the car to devour their entire shopping cart will never be handcuffed and barred from the story for shoplifting. (Well, unless they're shoplifters.)

                                                                                                          2. A lot of people are assuming parents are stealing food for their children. To these people I say please don't judge, since you have no clue what's happening. How do you know the parents didn't bring these snacks from home with them? Do you think anyone shops with children because they enjoy it? I personally only shop with my kids when I have no other options and yes, sometimes, this happens at very inconvenient times when they need to be given snacks to avoid meltdowns.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: hala

                                                                                                              Of course...and why should anyone give a hoot if you pick up a bag of cookies and give one to your kids to calm them. As long as you pay for them before exiting the store you are neither stealing nor hurting anyone. I can't believe all the ridiculous self-righteous posts on this thread!

                                                                                                            2. Ay. This topic always gets so polarized.

                                                                                                              I remember shopping with Mom (way back in the early 1800s), and being firmly told, "You can open that when we get home." It was rare, and regarded with suspicion, to see someone opening a package in the store.

                                                                                                              Maybe peeps were stronger back then? It's a little hard to believe that we're all so faint and weak that we can't wait 20 minutes for a quick shopping trip to finish.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                                                Nice to get the perspective of someone who is 200 years old..

                                                                                                              2. Easy to see why these threads always get locked and/or wiped.

                                                                                                                Here's a thought for all of the people talking about how eating it before you pay for it constitutes stealing:

                                                                                                                Do you never eat in a restaurant? Or do you only go to fast food joints, where they slide that tray across the counter after you've paid?

                                                                                                                Why does the presence of packaging change your perception?

                                                                                                                Just asking....

                                                                                                                11 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                  I think there are two side issues going on here that give you that impression: a) opening a package with the intention to pay and b) sampling a few grapes or items from a bulk bin. I don't think anyone has said that opening a package and paying for it is stealing... unless, like Alton Brown you forget about it.

                                                                                                                  I really don't care if you open a package and pay for it, but in my head I will make a judgment about you. I drink, others don't, people make judgments on that. As long as your fine with your choices and what others may perceive them as then all's well!

                                                                                                                  Also, in a restaurant the food is served to you hence it is yours at that point.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Lixer

                                                                                                                    So it`s cool if I go to the liquor store and pop open a bottle of vodka and start drinking it as I look aroundÉ

                                                                                                                    1. re: kpaxonite

                                                                                                                      as long as you a) pay for it, b) aren't driving, and c) don't drink it out on the sidewalk (open container laws) -- hey, knock yourself out.

                                                                                                                      But be prepared to be viewed as having a problem. Drinking alcohol in a liquor store is a fairly good distance from opening a package of cookies for a child or a diabetic.

                                                                                                                      and @Lixer -- no it isn't -- you haven't paid for it.

                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                        At a grocery store the exchange of ownership happens (in my eyes) when you pay the cashier. I don't think putting items in your cart is an agreement to buy them.

                                                                                                                        In a restaurant it is when the food is served to you by an employee, with an implicit agreement that you will pay for the food. Don't be ridiculous. I did say that if you asked a store employee for a taste of an orange or whatever then that's fine.

                                                                                                                        In the end it's all my opinion and your opinion. That's fine!

                                                                                                                        1. re: Lixer

                                                                                                                          I agree and that's why you shouldn`t open items before you pay for them

                                                                                                                          But what you just wrote is opposite to a lot of what your last post said.

                                                                                                                        2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                          Not really. I know someone who opened a bottle of wine at the grocery store and proceeded to take a swig from it. Yes, she's an alcoholic and fairly pitiful. But at any rate, she was caught on the store's video cam and is now banned from ever shopping in that store again. Turns out the store can lose their right to sell beer and wine if it's consumed on the premises. This happened in NC.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Leepa

                                                                                                                            The state monopoly on hard liquor in my province, the SAQ, has tastings of wine or cocktails or sometimes even just straight liquor at least a couple times a week.... I had never really thought about it but I guess they must have a license to serve alcohol.
                                                                                                                            And yes, opening a bottle of alcohol before checking out (especially if its wine that needs a corkscrew) is extremely messed up and I`ve never witnessed it.

                                                                                                                        3. re: kpaxonite

                                                                                                                          @ kpaxonite - It may not be cool with the store owner, but I'd get a good chuckle!

                                                                                                                          1. re: kpaxonite

                                                                                                                            Actually, in most states I think liquor laws would govern what's legal and permissible where rather than the timing of payment. Liquor, by law, is not in the same category as food.

                                                                                                                            1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                              That raises an interesting question... is it even legal to consume food in a supermarket before it has been paid for.

                                                                                                                          2. re: Lixer

                                                                                                                            At least two people upthread have said that it is stealing.

                                                                                                                        4. As someone else said, what if something happens between the time you eat your non-purchase and the time you intended to pay for it, such as: you don't have as much cash as you thought, your credit card is rejected, the store's phone lines are down so they can't charge your card, your credit card's bank is having "electronic" problems, there's a fire in the store & everyone is evacuated, you get an emergency phone call & have to run out, or ....? On the other hand, if you expect a supermarket to look the other way when a customer is consuming a not-yet-paid-for-item, how are they to determine if you are one of the"honest ones" and not a thief? In an ideal world, it wouldn't matter....

                                                                                                                          15 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: boredough

                                                                                                                            What if there's an explosion in the store, the cashier or you have a heart attack, a robbery takes place at the same instant, civil war breaks out, Martians land in the produce section? Life is always ready to intervene.

                                                                                                                            At SOME of the stores I frequent (Gelson's comes to mind) I have discovered that my wallet was missing, etc. (when I hadn't snacked on anything) and had the cashier say, "sign the receipt, I'll hold on to it, take the groceries and pay me next time you come in." It happens. I wish it happened more. It's more likely to when we treat one another like responsible human beings in the course of all our dealings. Then we can be relaxed and accommodating with one another and not get all in another person's behavior when they are thirsty and open a bottle of water while they shop.

                                                                                                                            Meanwhile, stores factor in a percentage of loss from breakage caused by employees & customers, spoilage, theft, and the occasional failure to ring something up accidentally. A box of cookies or an opened Coke are not the difference in their margin of profit. I recognize that I am paying for all of that whenever it occurs or who may be involved in it even though I do pay for what I eat (as in snack on, not put on a feedbag and slobber my way through every aisle). This is the simple practical working around such issues so that commerce can go on without intimidation or a hostile environment or relationship.

                                                                                                                            Bottom line: no harm, no foul should apply and the cashiers at the stores I frequent treat it that way. I take that as an indication that my grocery money remains welcome.

                                                                                                                            1. re: boredough

                                                                                                                              Boredough...all the same things can happen in a restaurant where likely you have consumed items worth a heck of a lot more than a cookie or two. The bottom line is that persons of integrity will pay for what they have consumed whether it be a restaurant or a market. If an emergency of some sort intervenes, payment can still be made, although it might of necessity be deferred.

                                                                                                                              1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                But a restaurant is not a supermarket. In a restaurant, it's SOP to eat first, pay later. Some restaurants get stiffed, but they understand that going in to the business. Supermarket SOP is to pay first, eat later. You assume that persons of integrity are the only people who eat food for which they have not paid. What should a supermarket owner do about those just looking for a cheap snack? And how can they be identified? Martians or not (I refer to rainey's post), good intentions are not always realized.

                                                                                                                                1. re: boredough

                                                                                                                                  Surely you realize that stores are completely aware of those who graze and don't pay and structure their prices accordingly. Otherwise, why would they be willing to put out bulk containers full of candy, cookies, nuts, etc. and salad bars complete with finger foods.

                                                                                                                                  It isn't their intention to be victims and they are not in the business of creating attractive nuisances with which to entrap customers. They are additional ways to sweeten profit and good business.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                    No, I don't think store owners - certainly in NYC where we apparently aren't lucky enough to have a Gelson's - have the time to monitor the grazers. Would you think it ok if everyone ate while they shopped? And if not, where do you draw the line?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: boredough

                                                                                                                                      They don't "monitor" them. They factor in a cost and reflect it in the price of their merchandise. We all pay it. Supermarkets are like casinos in that the dealer *always* has the advantage and the payouts or perks are strategically planned to make it appear otherwise.

                                                                                                                                      I am not a fool. I know the markets are for-profit enterprises. And I know they have to protect themselves from pilferage. But I live in a world where I am honorable and so I expect that other people are as well until I see differently. I draw the line at someone who deliberately steals and I agree with those who think that sampling produce or anything else not offered as a sample without intent to pay is stealing. That, naturally, includes the major chains one of which in Los Angeles, as I've previously said, has been caught short weighting meats 3 years in a row and we've all seen the televised exposés in which national chains have been caught with repeated deliberate policies of relabeling and repackaging meats no longer eligible, by law, for sale at full prices.

                                                                                                                                      I'm sorry you don't have Gelsons (a small, up-market local chain) but I bet there are neighborhoods even in NYC where the patrons are well known, at least by sight, to the cashiers where there are the kind of courtesies I've been extended.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                      It even has its own name on a balance sheet -- it's called shrinkage, and they absolutely DO know that x% of people are going to eat x% of an average month's sales.

                                                                                                                                      Sometimes they get lucky and shrinkage isn't as big as the forecast said it would be. Other times they get unlucky and lose money that month.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                        Isn't that the way all of our lives go: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes the game gets rained out?

                                                                                                                                        We do the best we can, roll with the punches, don't look for offenses and carry on. Even with a kind word and a smile on our faces sometimes. ...and a cookie crumb or two slipping from our lips. ;>

                                                                                                                                        1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                          Does the wink mean you aren't serious? You've changed your mind a bit.

                                                                                                                                          If I had a supermarket and cheated my customers I suppose I'd expect them to litter a bit, feel "at home" with any casual behavior in my place of business. But gee ain't escalation a shame. Big companies aren't the same as employees, who have to do the day-to-day.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: BangorDin

                                                                                                                                            what are you talking about?

                                                                                                                                            Accounting for shrinkage is not cheating -- that's building a known percentage of loss into their financial calculations -- shrinkage can be something that fell off of a shelf, mis-counts in inventory, something somebody's snarfled and not paid for -- it's an estimate of how much stuff is going to go unaccounted for between the beginning and the end of the month. THAT would be known as prudent financial management.

                                                                                                                                            It's kind of like a weather forecast. If there's a 40% chance of rain, you generally grab your umbrella because it's a lot easier to need it and not have it than the other way round. If they know that about 2% of their goods will be unsaleable for whatever reason (actual %age varies), then it's intelligent financial management for them to build that in.

                                                                                                                                            I promise you that shrinkage is not a profit center.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                              Yes, I think shrinkage accounting is a reasonable balance to all of the things that go missing before the cash register is counted out -- things that didn't make it off the delivery truck, things that got wiped up from the floor, things that rotted or soured before being sold, things that were pilfered, things that were somehow overlooked on the checkout conveyor belt, etc. And because it's in place to offer the merchant ultimate protection they can afford to be hospitable to their consumers and wait until someone has left the store with unpaid goods before panicking.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                No, no -- another poster "rainey" had said that her supermarket(s) had been caught actually cheating (adding weight to weighed stuff). It's upthread in a couple of "rainey"s postings. And that's what I was referring to.

                                                                                                                                                I understand "shrinkage", and grocers usually operate on only about 2% profit, right?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: BangorDin

                                                                                                                                                  That was me. Ralph's in Los Angeles has been cited by the board that certifies weights and measures 3 consecutive years.

                                                                                                                                                  It's been an interesting discussion but I've said everything I have to contribute.

                                                                                                                                                  Edited to say: Actually, one more thing occurred to me. There may be a consideration of regional mores. When I first moved to the West Coast from NYS I was stunned by the lack of formality. Now I'd never go back. There may be an element of formality that's taken more seriously in some areas than others.

                                                                                                                                                  Over and out.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: BangorDin

                                                                                                                                                    ah, sorry -- all the re: references got crisscrossed.

                                                                                                                                                    They count shrinkage as a cost before they add in their profit margin, but yes -- a chain that is actively manipulating the scales to read heavy are liars and cheats and deserve every letter of bad press they receive.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                            I should be happy that other people are stealing directly from mine pocket, and not Mr. Katz's?

                                                                                                                                    3. Bottom line: people eat food and don't pay for it. The rest of us do (pay a higher price to make up for it).

                                                                                                                                      1. I've decided to agree with Alton Brown, it's a lack of "discipline and good manners" even if the food is paid for.
                                                                                                                                        I keep thinking about the condition of the store floor if *everyone* ate while shopping! It's not your kitchen, people, it's a public building.

                                                                                                                                        1. I try not to pay attention to what other people are doing. I don't do it and have never allowed my children to do it (with one exception, when my son was coughing and needed water NOW, but of course I paid for that bottle). Most stores are pretty generous about offering samples, so there's no need to do it yourself unless it's a real emergency. And I've asked the people in the produce section for tastes of things, and they always say yes. (Although, I've realized that it's pointless to ask for a sample in my case, because I always feel like I should buy at least one, even if it's not very good!)

                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                            ... picturing you buying one cherry. ;-)

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                              LOL. Now I want to head out to the store and buy one cherry, 2 grapes, and just one clove of garlic. Maybe 4 lettuce leaves from the mesclun bin.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                              I always prep my produce.
                                                                                                                                              I suppose that is the reason I've never been tempted to taste test.

                                                                                                                                            3. I'll approach this topic from another angle. I find multi-tasking - where food consumption is one of the tasks - to be highly unenjoyable, generally speaking. Walking around manuevering a shopping cart, reading the labels on cans, consulting a shopping list, and yes even people watching, performed while calculating the cost of items vs. what is in my wallet, is not conducive to my enjoyment of a ripe cherry, a pita chip, or a can of coconut water. I don't simultaneously enjoy eating and driving my car, and certainly not when sitting on the toilet or vacuuming the carpet, either. I'm a greedy eater as it is, so I don't need _more_ distractions that may further the cause of mindless chewing and scarfing. But that is just me. I am reminded of George Costanza from Seinfeld, who incorporated eating pastrami sandwiches and watching televised baseball games into his lovemaking session with his girlfriend. To which Jerry responds: "How about satisfying one of someone else's appetites, rather than indulging in all of yours?". And of course George responds with: "I'm not suggesting leaving out the girl, Jerry. Just adding the smoked meats" or something along those lines... For me, if anything, the mundane aspects of grocery shopping are more likely to curb my appetite. Do I really want to nosh on a bagel then and there, without breaking out some lox and cream cheese? On the other hand, maybe I'll just sidle up to you - who opened the can of Pringles nonplussed and with abandon, and ask you for a taste. Sharing is caring, right? ;-)

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: silence9

                                                                                                                                                Ha! like this reply!
                                                                                                                                                Sit down at a table and enjoy the food!

                                                                                                                                              2. I thought of this thread the other day while I was having a salad and an iced tea at my local market before I did my shopping.

                                                                                                                                                I finished the salad before the iced tea, and took the rest of the iced tea with me and finished it while I did my shopping. I wondered (for the first time in my life, because of this thread) how many people there were as judgmental as some of you, assuming the worst of me because I dared to drink my beverage in the store.

                                                                                                                                                I can't believe the judgmentality of some people.

                                                                                                                                                1. Gather round, children, and I will tell you a tale of the Olden Days long ago, when people actually sat a thing called a Table to eat (an exception for popcorn in front of the TV), People did not eat walking down the street, driving in their cars, certainly never in the grocery store. Seems quaint, doesn't it?

                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                    Were those the days before they actually sold water?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                      Certainly before bottled water in the U.S. No sane American paid for bottled water back in the day: tap water was fine, and no one felt the need to "hydrate" continuously throughout the day. (Caveat here -- I DO feel the need to drink water all day, and carry an insulated bottle with me everywhere. This would have been considered bizarre behavior back in the 50's and 60's.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                        Sure, but then anyone you asked anywhere you might be would have been happy to take a bit of time and give you a glass of water for the asking.

                                                                                                                                                        ...and you wouldn't even have to pay for it before you could drink it. ;>

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                                          Water fountains were common.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                          Same here. I'm always armed with bottled water in the purse, in the car and in my farmers market and pool bags.
                                                                                                                                                          And granola bars!

                                                                                                                                                    2. I think one has to expect that some people won't follow rules. They just wont! Of course everyone should, but alas, it'll never happen.
                                                                                                                                                      As my favorite line from Scrubs goes, "People are just bastard-coated-bastards with bastard filling".
                                                                                                                                                      Yum.

                                                                                                                                                      1. I don't have a problem with it they are not stealing and saved the wrapper/bottle..

                                                                                                                                                        What I go off on is people who open sealed products like blackberry/strawberry containers and start tasting them and then move on..
                                                                                                                                                        I witnessed this several times in Costco in the big freezer and got a mgr and they confronted them and they admitted what they did and they revoked their membership..
                                                                                                                                                        One lady said as a member, she had a right to open sealed products as she wished to see if it was up to her standard...who are these people?

                                                                                                                                                        1. I see a bit of that, but try not to pay attention to it, so long as they PAY for it, in line.

                                                                                                                                                          It is not very unlike the folk, who queue up to the stands in Costco, and dine on the offerings, except for one difference - those tastings are not really "for sale," but "to sell."

                                                                                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                                                                                          1. Most grocery store's in my area have beverage machine's located at the entrance. If I am thirsty, I usually just grab one from there. It may look like I am drinking before buying, but I am not.

                                                                                                                                                            I purchased some smoked turkey from a store and I loved it. My husband and I were shopping there again, I went to the deli area and ordered 2 lbs of this great turkey. It was weighed and priced. We continued shopping and I just kept looking at the package of turkey..it didn't look right. Finally I reached into the bag and tasted. It was the most gosh awful stuff. Apparently they changed vendor's and instead of the lovely off the bone, it was that rolled and pressed into submission poultry product.

                                                                                                                                                            I hope that I didn't seem rude to other shopper's. On a scale of rudeness my slice of turkey was probably worse than the grape people...and the grape people aren't as bad as the apple people...

                                                                                                                                                            I am just glad that I am not out of work anymore. I am not going to spend one minute in the grocery store worrying about what someone else does there; I prefer to appreciate that I can finally buy foods that have been out of my reach and budget.

                                                                                                                                                            TC, Robin

                                                                                                                                                            1. Eh. I think it's kind of tacky, but logically, it doesn't make a difference whether it's opened before or after you swipe your card. I don't eat out of the packages in the store, nor do I sample bulk or produce items, but I have been known to open packages in situations involving my kids:

                                                                                                                                                              1. After eating a purchased ice cream cone, one of the small children was exceptionally goopy, so I picked up a box of diaper wipes, opened it up, and took out a couple of wipes to clean everything off. Clearly a lack of foresight on my part, but still, what do you do with sticky hands that want to touch everything?

                                                                                                                                                              2. If I need to go shopping just before a meal time, or am for some reason stuck out and about and it's been awhile since the children have eaten, I will sometimes give them an apple from the bag-o-apples that has a flat price, or open a box of crackers, to keep them relatively quiet through the store.

                                                                                                                                                              Tacky, yeah I guess, but I considered it the lesser of two evils (the other choice being having two small children disturb other people or become unruly).

                                                                                                                                                              1. I can't read the entire thread. I don't want an eye rolling headache.

                                                                                                                                                                I have two small children- an infant and a toddler. By the time I'm motivated enough to schlepp them out, attempt to control the toddler in the store, deal with getting the groceries back into the house up a flight of stairs while somehow not leaving the baby unattended... I'm very, very low on food. So I don't necessarily have diaper bag ready, child placating treats to bring along with me (adding a few more ounces to the oppressive weight of my diaper bag.) I'm going to open some crackers in the store and let my 2 year old have a few, which DIRECTLY prevents a meltdown.

                                                                                                                                                                Who here will be busy trashing parents who let their kids scream, in some other thread?

                                                                                                                                                                Finally, I am not paying $3-$6/lb for grapes or cherries without trying one or two. The quality is too wildly unpredictable in the megamart to throw away my very hard earned, closely budgeted cash on tasteless mushy cherries or sour grapes.

                                                                                                                                                                21 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: rohirette

                                                                                                                                                                  Hmm, maybe you should have read the entire thread.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: rohirette

                                                                                                                                                                    'Finally, I am not paying $3-$6/lb for grapes or cherries without trying one or two. The quality is too wildly unpredictable in the megamart to throw away my very hard earned, closely budgeted cash on tasteless mushy cherries or sour grapes.'

                                                                                                                                                                    Glad you feel entitled to do so..

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                      Of course...why not? Certainly if there's a produce person around I'll ask for a sample...but if not, I won't thnk twice about trying out a grape (but only if my intention is to buy some...not as a snack!). It's not like I'm taking a bite out of a peach! OK if you want to be technical and call me a thief, fine. But like rohirette, I don't want to spend five bucks for a bag of sour grapes!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                                        Do grapes taste different after they are taken home and washed?
                                                                                                                                                                        Or is it necessary to wash them?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                                          But if everyone had your mentality to try one or two grapes, their would be no grapes..
                                                                                                                                                                          Does this apply to everything in the store?

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                            Let's not be silly...of course I'm not saying it's fine to taste everything. What I am saying is that I have never had a request to taste a grape denied in any market where I shop, and yes, grapes do vary way more in taste than let's say Ritz Crackers. Therefore, if no produce person is available to ask for a sample, I don't think it's a big deal to try a grape before buying a bunch!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                                              There are a myriad of things in the produce section that change in taste..
                                                                                                                                                                              Why does the grape get a pass?

                                                                                                                                                                              My business partner and I own several patents and I wish I was the genius behind the mesh plastic bag that holds those grapes in so people can't try before they buy..

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                                Absolutely, most fruits vary in flavor. That's why the produce man in the market where I shop carries a pen knife and will gladly offer a sample of a peach, apple, etc. to anyone who requests one (no, I don't do the same thing myself!). And yes, he will not hesitate to open one of those mesh plastic bags to give someone a sample cherry.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                                  Agreed, Beach Chick. Why should a consumer feel entitled enough to "sample" or "try" the food in a store when in fact they have not yet paid for it?

                                                                                                                                                                                  All too often I see people dipping into the bulk goods at Henry's/Sprouts, which is not only unsanitary but also illegal. That is stealing, folks. You didn't pay for it, so why eat it?

                                                                                                                                                                                  And sorry, but I don't buy the argument that "if my kid is throwing a tantrum or crying, I should be able to open up a package of xxx". Bring your own snacks if you're choosing to "schlep" your kids to the store.

                                                                                                                                                                                  How is this practice justified? It is not ok.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: globocity

                                                                                                                                                                                    Agreed. Parents need to learn how to not let their child be in charge. I see it all the time in the stores. If the kid has a tantrum and you open up a package of xxx, then not only are you telling them it's okay to do that you are also rewarding their bad behavior just to shut them up.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Leepa

                                                                                                                                                                                      People need to learn not to make snap judgments about the behaviour of strangers, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                      You have NO IDEA what's behind that kid's tantrum (there are loads of legitimate medical reasons), or why Mom doesn't have a snack on hand -- and you have no more right to know what's behind it all than you do to make a judgment about the mom (or dad), the kid, or the behavior of either.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                        Absolutely correct sunshine. I truly hope that all the self-righteous persons posting on this thread extend their ethical /moral values to everything else they do. I just don't get what the big deal is with opening a bag of cookies or a candy bar in a store IF you pay for them on checkout. Although it's not something I regularly do, I have done it...and I wish this were my greatest sin.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                                                          Really, they probably have opinions about what you're wearing, what you weigh, what you've picked to put in your cart, whether or not you're humming to yourself as you shop, whether your cart goes down the center of the aisle or follows a standard forward-traffic-on-the-right traffic pattern, if you're a person who reads a label before just grabbing something and flinging it in your cart.

                                                                                                                                                                                          It's possibly inevitable and human. ,,,just like we may have opinions about whether they're entitled to an opinion about how we shop/snack and how rigid/intrusive they may be in the rest of their lives.

                                                                                                                                                                                          But is it worth magnifying their judgment by taking it seriously? Me, I know my intent and behavior and the social contract I have with the stores I frequent. So I snack as I see fit to enjoy my entire food and/or child rearing experience and I pay when I pay. They can live with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                                                                            What you don't realize is you are being just as judgmental as you are accusing others of being.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                          Actually, I have every right to my opinion. As do you.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                                  rule utilitarianism is a logically indefensible stance. if everyone was a celibate priest the species would die out. This does not make being a celibate priest immoral.

                                                                                                                                                                                  and no, it clearly does not apply to everything in the store - why should it?

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                                    I wonder which stores would prefer?
                                                                                                                                                                                    1) Someone sampling the grapes before purchasing leading to a sale. And possibly future sales.
                                                                                                                                                                                    2) Someone who didn't sample the grapes, purchased them, then returned them because they are unsatisfactory (mushy, tasteless, sour, moldy). And now they have a hesitant shopper who might not purchase grapes from them again.
                                                                                                                                                                                    3) Someone not purchasing grapes because @ $4 a pound they don't want to risk spending $$ on something that might taste good or might not?

                                                                                                                                                                                    I do think that if a person is going to sample it should be with the intent to buy that item.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                                                                                                      Of course! Perfectly stated viper... This is getting so silly...but maybe that's what makes CH fun?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                                                                                                        Exactly. Grazing is one thing, trying out one grape with intent to buy is another.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                                                      The sugar content of grapes continues to intensify as they age. Just like bananas, pears and stone fruits. If they are not that sweet or 'ready' today, they will be tomorrow or the next day.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Cathy

                                                                                                                                                                                        yet still we have no bananas.

                                                                                                                                                                                3. From a cashier perspective it's just kinda gross. When one is eating a bag of chips one's hand is repeatedly in and out of their mouth, and since the other hand is holding a bag of chips that's the hand that touches everything- cart, merchandise, credit card reader, etc. It's not as extreme or as blatant but from a sanitation perspective this is essentially the same as walking through the store licking things. And that soda that's drunk while shopping? When one hands that sticky, half consumed bottle or can to the cashier it's essentially the same as spitting in the cashier's hand.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Does anyone really want to be in line behind the soda drinker and have the cashier touch everything you're buying with their now sticky hands? Congratulations Mr./Ms I Just Can't Wait! Now you've spit on everything the person behind you is buying as well, job well done!
                                                                                                                                                                                  I know this probably sounds extreme and a lil' bit paranoid but stuff like this really is how germs are spread, for real.

                                                                                                                                                                                  My heart goes out to parents of toddlers in the midst of a meltdown but for anyone old enough to actually be buying something themselves, it's just tacky.

                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Mary McChugalug

                                                                                                                                                                                    you stick your hand in your mouth when eating chips? i tend to only stick the chip in there.

                                                                                                                                                                                    you spill drinks on your hand when you drink them, making them sticky? you drool and spit on the outside of a can or bottle? i ted not to do either of those things

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Mary McChugalug

                                                                                                                                                                                      Wow, your customers have very poor motor skills! Personally, I wait until I get in the car to pop open that bag of chips, after a slathering of hand sanitizer, of course. Eating the food with my hands after handling everything plus the cart handle... yuck.
                                                                                                                                                                                      ps.. you sound kinda angry. Just sayin'
                                                                                                                                                                                      pps... is there any research data that has looked at culturing the conveyor belts at checkout stands? I can imagine it's worse than a toilet. You're handling every item that has touched that belt and money that has probably kissed ecoli at some point and you're worried about someone who drank half a soda?
                                                                                                                                                                                      Please, raise your hand if you've gotten "sticky" from drinking a bottle of soda? Bueller? The last time I remember getting sticky was drinking a Sidecar.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                        I love to sit down my milk carton down in what possibly is some sticky substance on the belt; i.e., spilt anything - perhaps blood from meat? I feel that the cashier is generally too overworked to clean up the conveyor belt, the cashier should be given a raise to do this; perhaps it's my job to do this? Oh, well.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I look at the cashier who sticks her fingers in her mouth to open the plastic bag in sympathy. I can imagine what kind of mouth problems she might have from doing this all day, taking money, etc. back and forth, back and forth.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I try not to be angry about this, having to think about my milk carton (or whatever) having whatever goop I have to wash off, or just let it go.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Signed: Angry :-))

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. when I see adults eating something they haven't yet paid for, it irritates me - I feel that the grocery store is for shopping, not eating.

                                                                                                                                                                                      When I see kids being handed food that isn't paid for, it makes me angry. Because what kind of message does it give them? That its ok to behave like something is yours when it actually, legally, isn't.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Klary

                                                                                                                                                                                        Exactly how I feel about this issue. My mother certainly never let me consume anything before we paid for it. I don't even sample grapes, cherries, etc. unless there's a produce worker around whom I can ask. I don't mean to be rude, but I just can't even fathom how people think it's OK to walk around eating and shopping at the same time...

                                                                                                                                                                                        And to think I make fun of my husband for opening and eating a bag of cookies on our way back home from supermarket! "Can't you wait till we get home?" Ha.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Klary

                                                                                                                                                                                          Those children have become those adults.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. If I haven't paid for it yet, then I haven't yet officially taken possession of it yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Not a single bite or sip until it's paid for.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't take a single bite either until it's paid for. But for me: I don't want fruit that's (possibly) been kicked around on the floor, and I can think of many other possibilities. Eating an unwashed apple - nope - and so on. Perhaps a banana for a kid, I guess so -- but usually they're not ripe enough for the little one to digest.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Walgreens didn't tolerate those actions from an employee.

                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Cathy

                                                                                                                                                                                              but it looks like perhaps they should have.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Bizarre how many people read one question and answer another. The OP was about paying for things after you've eaten a bit. That makes it clear that the food will be paid for. If you call that theft, for the 10 min until it's paid for, then is the money you give the cashier a donation? Retribution? Whatever. All this talk about shrinkage or leaving wrappers around the store or (disgusting!) putting back something one has taken a bite of is focusing on a different question than the one posed.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I used to let my toddler eat crackers or bananas that I was putting in the cart with him. He's 8 now, doesn't do it any more--simply outgrew it. I do remember him damaging a candy bar to force me to buy it. I paid for it, of course, then asked the cashier to discard it. He said that since it was damaged I should get another, was really confused when I explained. In the end I think he took it off the bill, really couldn't understand why I wanted to pay for something we were not going to eat. But now I'm offtopic too.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: saacnmama

                                                                                                                                                                                                'Bizarre how many people read one question and answer another'

                                                                                                                                                                                                It's called replying to another post other than the OP...wouldn't really qualify that as 'bizarre'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Lotta people seemed to be in a big burrito get sliding down that slippery slope!

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I will admit to giving my kids food in store. And I thought people on the thread were getting a little silly with the slippery-slope argument ("What's next? Nawing a chicken leg from the rotisserie chicken you picked up???"). But the other day, in a fairly nice local health food co-op, I saw someone eating with a fork from her deli container of salad or some such, while perusing the shelves. That does cross a line for, although I'm not sure why!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. It's not something I normally do, but I don't see the big deal. The last time I did something similar was a few months ago, when I was kind of hungover, went for a run on a warm day and needed to stop at the grocery store. In line I started to feel like I was going to pass out, so I drank a Vitamin water while I waited to pay for my other stuff. I paid for the drink.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I guess I was just raised to drink something if I felt like I was going to faint while waiting in line at the grocery store.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                                                    As an older adult, not running any longer - hardly walking without bouncing off the walls - I carry with me in the car water, tea, and a piece of dried fruit and nuts. I sympathize with anyone who finds themself in this position.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I can't imagine that one could have a drink in hand, money in hand, standing-in-line, fainting or not, could be any kind of infringement against society or any rules.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think this is probably the norm, that people come in and grab a drink and have to wait for someone to take their money.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Good for you for not waiting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Just had a thought: as for many of us, the enjoyment of food is closely tied to sharing it with others, how would you feel if, while grazing on that bag of Cool Ranch Doritos (or if more virtuous, that carton of blueberries), every now and again during the course of your shopping, a stranger eyeballed you enjoying your ambulatory snack session and asked you to try a handful of chips or a few berries? Maybe they even had a 'good' justification for their request, such as "Sorry to trouble you, but I missed lunch and I'm about to pass out from low blood sugar", or even "Those sure look good and I've always wanted to try 'em, mind if I take a few?". Are folks OK with that? On many similar grocery/shopping threads, I've read many posters claim that they aren't worried about cooties and germs from the store, that the foodstuffs have been handled and wrangled by many sets of hands from the farm to the warehouse to the shipping trucks, etc., and that anyone who is afraid of germs from unwashed foods are somehow paranoid. Does that also apply to your fellow shopper's hands? If the store is truly no different than a restaurant or your kitchen, do those who see the store as a perfectly appropriate venue to chow down, have no qualms about indulging in a common behavior connected to public consumption, namely sharing with others? Genuinely curious about this...

                                                                                                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: silence9

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Big difference.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      If they are eating a meal in my house, they are invited guests. The fact that I have chosen to invite them into my own personal space means that these are people whose cooties don't squick me out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      If I am eating in a restaurant, I am paying someone else to touch my food. By definition.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      If I am shopping for food, I am also by definition paying someone else to touch my food. Other shoppers is an unavoidable part of the equation
                                                                                                                                                                                                      .
                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'll address sharing with strangers on request in a grocery store when anyone comes back and posts that this has actually occurred -- somehow I doubt I'll have to address it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                        "I'll address sharing with strangers on request in a grocery store when anyone comes back and posts that this has actually occurred -- somehow I doubt I'll have to address it"
                                                                                                                                                                                                        --------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                                                                                                        That was at least part of my point. I think that it is interesting that such a normal component to the food experiences as _sharing with others_ has little or no place in an environment that others have nevertheless decided is perfectly normal to 'break bread' in. It's as if the 'food-is-to-be-shared-to-be-celebrated' toggle switch has been set to 'off' with a flick of the switch once the shopper grabs a shopping cart. Not saying it should be otherwise, perhaps that wasn't clear. Big difference indeed, that was my point... Lastly, friends and relatives that 'squick me out' constitute about 90% of the population of most pot lucks and family gatherings I've witnessed/attended. I've read and heard tell of an enchanted realm where it is not so, but assumed it to be a legend about the kindom of Atlantis or Shangri-La. I'd go there, but would not be welcome...

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: silence9

                                                                                                                                                                                                          but the same goes for anywhere else you buy food, too -- nobody in a restaurant walks up to you and says "wow, that looks really good, can I have a bite?" either. The not-sharing extends more along the line of strangers vs. non-strangers, not over where the food is being purchased or consumed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          @Lixer -- if they're good enough friends to be an invited guest allowed in my kitchen, then I wouldn't even blink if they nibbled something before or after plating. One more time...If I have invited them into my personal space, then I am okay with sharing my personal space and my food with them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                            "...nobody in a restaurant walks up to you and says "wow, that looks really good, can I have a bite?"
                                                                                                                                                                                                            ---------------------------------
                                                                                                                                                                                                            When I was young and single myself, I certainly would have welcomed hearing that dulcet phrase a bit more often from single women diners. T'was not to be...

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ah, but how would you feel about an invited guest in your kitchen nibbling from the food you're about to serve before or after it has been plated? It is the food they're about to be served after all. You're basically doing that by eating in the grocery store.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: silence9

                                                                                                                                                                                                          If someone asked me those questions I'd seriously think they were mentally ill and I'd just walk away.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        4. it irks me slightly... for no real good reason, except i hate listening to people crunch chips with their mouths open.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          i do really detest people nicking "tastes" from the bulk candy and dried fruit bins. this is a big one among older women...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Emme

                                                                                                                                                                                                            One reason I never buy from dried bins and bulk candy, etc. I don't care if they give it away, I wouldn't take it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've not seen older women doing this, mostly younger women. Reason: From an octogenerian point of view, every woman is a "younger woman."

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I went to Whole Foods today, and ate lunch before I went shopping. Since I didn't finish my Tazo iced tea with my meal, I carried it around with me while I shopped. I looked for busybodies who might be giving me the evil eye, but didn't see any. I guess most people just aren't that judgmental about such a non-event.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Twice now I've seen this elderly lady in Raleys at the you serve soup. First time she was struggling with looking for a spoon. I thought she was looking for a lid. And since I always forget where they hide the lids I asked her if she needed help with a lid. She replied "no", found a spoon and she with her cart walked off eating her soup. I don't know if she paid for it or not. But it has always been known in our family that you pay for something before you use it (or eat it).

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. My usual grocery store has a cup holder on the shopping cart - they seem to be encouraging drinking at least.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I wonder if that's because many of the Safeways around here have a Starbucks in-store and they're encouraging you to purchase a beverage from them and drink it while shopping?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jasz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Perhaps, but there are no Safeways here and the store doesn't sell coffee (well, already made anyway). I shop at a local grocery store with two locations, nothing chain or standardized about it. There is a Second Cup shop nearby however.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    They are just really focused on customer service. The first time I saw the new carts with the holders was the day they arrived, and they were asking people where they would prefer re holders be placed. I love that store :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ah well, just a thought. The only place I've seen the carts with the drink holders has been at Safeways and 3 of the 4 I go to have Starbucks within.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sounds like a nice store.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jasz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Here at the Wegman's grocery in Virginia, they have a table to drink your coffee while eating your pastry. One doesn't have to take it to a check-out line before you eat it. When one finishes up, one can take one's cup and put it in your cart in a nice cup holder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But they also have quite a few food stalls where one can buy meals and all sorts of eats and check out and go to a table in a restaurant-type setting, upstairs and downstairs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        All this is quite an operation and really works well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So do you pay at the bakery and coffee cart before you sit down and eat?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What prevents someone from walking in, sitting down, eating and then walking around, ostensibly not finding what you were looking for and walking out?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Cathy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You pay for your coffee and pastry when you order at a counter, just as you would order in McDonald's a coffee and pastry, then you take your tray and sit down just as you would at McDonalds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i.e., order, pay, sit down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I love Wegman's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Leepa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I do, too. I have to drive 50-60 miles to get there, but it is so enjoyable, I don't mind shopping at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Jasz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Whole Foods has the same thing - those built-in cup holders up by the cart handle. and yes, i always assumed it was to encourage customers to purchase - and drink - a beverage from the coffee bar while they shop. of course you pay for the drink when they make it for you, as is the case with the in-store Starbucks at Safeway et al, so stealing/consuming without paying is a non-issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: CanadaGirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Publix (in the southern US) has regular soda fountains in the deli...and they put a deli sticker right on the cup -- so they *expect* you to walk around with your soda.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Do you pay for it first or at the register when leaving the store?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            At several of the grocery stores, they have sanitizers as you go in. I see most people use them to wipe off the carts, so they must 'expect' something or other.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You pay for your soda when you leave.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Rella, the sanitizers are usually used by moms of small kids -- it was in response to a report a few years ago showing how much UGH lives on the handles of shopping carts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              (and we've all grabbed a cart from time to time that left you with some sticky goo that you *really* don't want to know a true identification)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Can't recall if I've ever done so in my 54 years, but I do know this: As long as it wasn't an item weighed at the register to determine its price or particularly pungent or messy if I felt like eating something from my basket while shopping I would, and wouldn't waste a second pondering what anyone else thought about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ecustard

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Is it really always a 'waste' to pondering what others think about our singular impact in a shared world? I don't know. Aren't novels and songs and plays and films all popular interests precisely because their creators do such pondering? Or message baords and forums, for that matter? Sometimes I stare benignly-but-intently at the shoes of passers-by as I approach, then look up at their faces as I glide past. More often than not, the passer-by will reward my effort with a quizzical look, and they seem to ponder at what I might have found so interesting in their footwear. It never seems to bother anyone, but does seem to give them pause, to consider and ponder the motivations of others. I guess I find mutual pondering to be of beneficial human interest, for the most part...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: silence9

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There are many theories as to why some ponder and some don't. I'm a ponderer. I enjoyed your point of view.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: silence9

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Where have I said that it's always a waste to ponder what others think?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I said that in THIS scenario there'd be no pondering for me. I do plenty of pondering about quite a few other things. But not on what someone else thinks about me eating something in a store that is focused upon selling food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ecustard

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "...in a store focused on selling food.".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ----------------------

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And not focused on _serving_ food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    By the by, I wonder how many regular supermarket munchers feel equally comfortable opening up an unpaid-for bag of Doritos at 7-11 or mini-marts and handing the cashier there a half-eaten bag to ring up. At my local 7-11, they'll give you the stinkeye for simply asking to break a twenty. Curious about that...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: silence9

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      but you're not in the 7-11 for 30-40 minutes or more like you are at the grocery. You're in, buy your Slurpee and your Doritos, pay for your gas, and you're out in less than 5 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've seen an awful lot of people take a hit of that Slurpee on the way to the register, though, or a bite of that microwave burrito.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "...but you're not in the 7-11 for 30-40 minutes or more...".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        -----------------------

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Tell that to the deluded woman I'm standing behind way too often, who simultaneously buys Lotto scratchers, plays said scratchers, and cashes in those scratchers while I stare at my hands and watch the skin cells age. I reckon she owes me an extra day or two of my life back, cumulatively speaking ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: silence9

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          but is she eating Doritos?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ".. but is she eating Doritos?".
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ----------------------
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nope, but sometimes she smells like Fritos. Sometimes I smell like bean dip, so we'd probably be a good match...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: silence9

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "And not focused on _serving_ food."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And that's just the way I want my supermarket to be. Ready food options without the interposition of others in between me and my choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "At my local 7-11, they'll give you the stinkeye for simply asking to break a twenty."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        They'll give you the "stinkeye" because you're asking to break a twenty without buying anything. Don't blame them for not wanting give away their smaller bills without registering a sale. They're 7-11, not a bank..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ecustard

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "They're 7-11, not a bank.."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And yet you can get a money order there:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "7-Eleven® offers convenient financial services including fast money orders."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.7-eleven.com/Category.aspx...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: silence9

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "And yet you can get a money order there"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And that would constitute a purchase, as there is a fee in addition to the value of the money order itself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Want to break a twenty? Buy a slurpee. And feel free to drink it while waiting to pay.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ecustard

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "And that would constitute a purchase, as there is a fee in addition to the value of the money order itself."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ------------------------------------

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yeah, my bank also charges that fee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm tapping out, buddy. I get it, you loathe all that I stand for (Doritos, forceable detention of Venusians, etc..). Kidding...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. When I'm shopping, if I'm lightheadded or very hungry, I'll eat, then buy, a bag of chips, or a few cookies out of a package. If I'm thirsty, I'll drink, then buy a beverage. I'm always sure to point out to the cashier that yes, I am buying that empty bottle of water. With fruit, especially apples, I"ll take a small nibble out of one, to see how good it is. It's it's delish... I'll buy that one and 6 others. If not.. just that one. With grapes.. I'll eat one grape for the same reason. If they were too sour.. they stay there. If they were sweet... in my cart they go. I have no qualms about eating in a grocery store to decide how much of something I am going to buy with loose food, and whatever I eat I end up buying. Aside from that one sour grape.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Kydilee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I see nothing wrong with opening a box or bag before paying for it. This is a rarity , usually when I am waiting in long lines with hardly any clerk to take care of people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sharhamm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Of course! The key words in the op are "before they pay for it". I'm still blown away by those who think it's criminal to open a bag of cookies to satisfy a child's (or adult's) hunger while shopping even though the purchase is paid for upon exiting the store. What in the world are they worried about? If this were the worst societal problem our country were suffering from (it's certainly not!!) we would indeed be living in utopia.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Because its stealing????? That's why.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Of course this is not the worst societal problem we are dealing with. But we are also talking about not being able to control yourself by eating before paying. Also granting yourself instant gratification when you don't own it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Atochabsh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. It's not stealing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Whether I can "control myself" or not is no one's business but mine.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. "Instant gratification." See #2.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If this were considered stealing by the stores, I think we'd see a LOT more signs in the store, a LOT more salespeople roaming the aisles, and LOT more headlines about moms arrested for breaking open boxes of cookies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The lack of all of that seems to hint that the stores are pretty unfussed by it -- which would mean that the incidence of people NOT paying for their snacks is small enough to be absorbed as an incidental cost.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It is stealing. You do not own that item. The whole idea of "I was gunna buy it" or "I'm going to buy it" doesn't negate that you still do not own that item at the time of consumption.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Now if the stores need to build the cost of those that nibble and do not buy (not saying that anyone on this thread does......) into the over all price of their products then we all are paying for the nibbling. Its part of why products cost what they cost. I can tell you that nearly every time I go to a grocery store, I see opened bags stashed into shelves, dropped on the floor, left on aisles they were not found on. Last time I was in Safeway, I found $9 of deli cut sliced turkey, open and left in the commercial cheese aisle. At least they put it in the refrigerator section. But that $9 worth of turkey was probably thrown out. A waste, cost of doing business. Someone ordered it, nibbled on it and then dumped it without paying. I picked it up and took it back to the deli counter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And if you want to show your lack of control in public, then you have to be aware that this is how you are presenting yourself. It is my business to the extent that I have to watch you nibbling and snacking on food you have not purchased. Some people don't care how they are perceived. But I can't go through the store blindfolded or disallowed my opinions anymore then you have yours. You don't want people to develope opinions about your behavior then do it in private.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Atochabsh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Atochabsh: "And if you want to show your lack of control in public, then you have to be aware that this is how you are presenting yourself."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But only to someone like you, in whose fakaktah mind the fact that I'm drinking an iced tea (which I have probably already paid for, but you don't know that) is the equivalent of eating from, and then deserting, a package of cold cuts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Get back to me when you can read my mind and know my intentions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It seems that the discussion hinges on the differences between what a person SHOULD do versus what a person can get away with. I feel that a person SHOULD pay for items first before opening and/or consuming its contents, but I think that same person could likely get away with consuming first and paying later.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I posit that though we are in full charge of our individual actions, self-control is also a glue which holds our fragile human civilization together.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Until I read this silly thread, which in my mind has no reason to exist, it never occurred to me that I was "getting away with" something when I drink an iced tea while I shop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And now that I have read this silly thread, I still don't feel I'm "getting away with" something when I drink an iced tea while I shop (which I will have paid for 9 times out of 10, though the small minds who are judging my behavior will not realize that and think the worst of me).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This is officially the second stupidest thread I have read on Chowhound.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. It seems like everything there is to be said on this subject has already been said, and now the conversation is just going in circles, and growing increasingly unfriendly. We're going to lock it now.