Cherry Ames And The Mystery In The Milk Aisle

The supermarket! Was there ever a more fiendish plan for entrapment? I went to an A&P that I haven’t been to in few years. They redesigned their floor plan since I was last there apparently to go head-to-hippie-head with the nearby Whole Foods. All I can say is wow what a mess. It’s the most confusing building I’ve ever been in. I can’t even describe what the layout is but the idea is to create as much refrigerated wall space as possible. You know how most supermarkets have an outer wall of produce and an outer wall of meat/fish and finally an outer wall of dairy? Due to curving and circular pathways and I don’t know what else sorcery I guess this one had SIX outer walls and then a maze of irregularly aligned short aisles.

My original plan was to go up and down each aisle one time and whatever I forgot could be damned but I can’t tell you if I made it to each aisle or if I traversed them more than once. All I know is that I forgot cucumbers applesauce and salt but impulse grabbed a jar whole grain mustard and a box of sugar free Fudgsicles.  So overall it was not a disappointing excursion.

But that is not the most remarkable thing that happened to me at the supermarket today. In fact it was something that I never even thought of before.

I was standing in the checkout line minding my b-i-bidness – in fact I kind of drifted away from my task of bagging and was just standing there thinking about something probably the Fudgsicles – when the guy behind me looks at my 1/2 gallon of “America’s Choice” store-brand milk and asks me if it came from America. To which I had no answer. Then he tells me that expensive milk comes from America but if you buy bargain milk that comes from other countries and just because my milk was named “America’s Choice” that was no guarantee that I had American milk.

Did you ever hear of that? I didn’t. But I wanted to be sure that I didn’t get any of that hoof n mouth milk from Canada so I inspected the carton and couldn’t see any country of origin only this remark printed above the bar code:

Palmitate! What is that – from Canada?

I didn’t see anything like “Made in U.S.A.” stamped on the container so I assumed the best and went on my way while the guy was still talking about bargain milk. When I got home I told Sami about it and he laughed at me and said of course it’s American milk but he had no facts to back that up so I had to turn to Al Gore’s internet to see if anyone had heard of foreign milk infiltrating the tri-state area’s dairy supply.

I turned up this google link called Where Does Your Milk Come From? which got me even more worked up by opening with provocative questions: “Ever wonder where that jug of milk came from that you just purchased at the supermarket? Just how far away were those cows raised?” Gah!

There was a link to another site called “Where IS MY Milk From?”

Created by a student of Brigham Young University, the website has a database with information from the FDA’s interstate milk shippers list which is public information not easily accessible for the average consumer. The website also accepts codes from dairy products other than milk.

… and that was the jackpot of dairy product origin. Following the directions there, I found the plant code on my milk container plugged it into the search box and found out that my milk came from Burlington New Jersey. Sami laughed again but I can only hope that there are dairy cows in Burlington New Jersey and it’s not just some repository for Chinese milk that comes floating up the Delaware River in stealth milk tankers.

So happy ending but this all happened before 10am and it was thoroughly exhausting to the point that I had to immediatley break into the sugar free Fudgsicles to reinvigorate myself.

11 thoughts on “Cherry Ames And The Mystery In The Milk Aisle”

    1. It was. I hesitated to bring this up but at one point I turned a corner and I think I saw myself leaving the aisle at the other end. I am never going back there.

  1. I realize the placement of food products are decided by math genuis’ who use lengthy complicated formulas, but it would make so much more sense to have a few retired Grannys have some input.
    If they did, the raisins and the walnuts would be in the baking section and not in the dried fruit and the snack section. Crackers would be in the soup area as would the tuna cans. and so on.

    They seem to understand that the jars of spagetti sauce should be a neighbor to the pasta but putting the parma cheese in the dairy section just defeats the whole thing.

    1. Isn’t it? My daughter said that floor pattern is the latest thing to not only direct you to but to corral you in a single high-priced area for as long as possible. I wouldn’t call those areas corrals as much as I would call them diverticula in the strict Latin-translation sense of the word. Also in the intestine sense of the word.

  2. Retail wisdom puts the staple products like milk and bread in the back, so you traverse past as many other things as possible, but how can this be if the store has no “back”?

    The A&P here was put into a retail development built around 2000. It was supposed to be a prestige “gateway” development into town from the highway, but ended up inevitably as one more mall, with the obligatory ethnic take out places, a karate school and some nail parlors.

    The developer (the notorious Wilf brothers) promised to look for an upscale supermarket like Whole Foods but ended up settling for an A&P. We had a retail liquor license we were holding on to in anticipation that the store would want to sell wine and beer, but they passed on that.

    Twelve years later the A&P is still holding on despite bankruptcy by the parent corporation. I like to shop there because it is never crowded. It is clean and has a decent selection. Meanwhile the other storefronts regularly go belly up and – since it was built by the notorious Wilf brothers – the brick pavers are coming up, the asphalt is full of holes and I am sure the roofs leak.

  3. Your interaction with “Mr. Milk Conspiracy” reminds me of why I do my shopping at 7 am on Saturday whenever possible. At that hour, most of the people who wear tinfoil hats are still adjusting them for the day.

    My local Mart of Wal – which is the only grocery of any size within an hour’s round trip – has the annoying habit of moving stuff around every six weeks or so. I’m sure it’s because some “genius” in marketing said “If you trap people in the store by making them look for what they need, they will see more stuff they want to buy.” All it does is tick me off.

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