Would you care to take a trip to our local US grocery store to see the wares on offer? Hop in the gas guzzler, buckle your seat belt and off we go. On a sunless winter day, the bright lights of the food selling establishment are dazzling. First thing into the automatic doors, we need to use the hand sanitizing cloths available in a pop up container to tidy up the cart handles from germy adult hands and slobbering toddlers that have used the vehicle before us. A thorough cleansing is carried out and the used wipe is tossed into the proferred trash receptacle. We sail past the flowers and potted plants, this is not a gardening post after all, but there might be one to come from this expedition. A couple of quick snapshots of the pretties and a few of the produce bins which are so colorfully arranged. The camera is not normally brought along on these frequent excursions. Would you mind standing behind me to obscure this clandestine operation? A large trenchcoat with a belt buckle camera would be much less obvious than the Canon on the mini tripod. We better make this quick before confronted by a store manager. Around the bend, past the bakery and deli, the fancy cheeses and breads, we find ourselves on the packaged cookie aisle. This is not a row we normally travel, but since when did Oreos have so many different varieties? And how come they get such a large portion of the display? How much do they pay the store for this prime bit of real estate? Enquiring minds…, oh never mind. Let us move on and see what else can be found.
Aha, the imported section. There are the beloved Bahlsens and Walkers among others. Some of these have been tasted already, and we just loved every bite! Oh those British biscuits are without peer in the world of cookies! Enough superlatives cannot be said about them! Ahem. It is nice to know that there can be future taste testings with fresher fare than was bitten before. Several of these draw our attention, do you have any recommendations? Do you know these? Besides what is seen in the above image there are Bahlsens First Class with dark noir, Bahlsens Afrika with dark noir, Carr’s Ginger Lemon Cremes, and … oh it seems one jumped into the shopping cart. Well, let it stay and we will give it a go later. I want you to see something else here. Let’s move on to the refrigerated cases.
Next to the dairy case, in between the milk products and the eggs are wedged the American biscuits and slice and bake cookies. Very few homemakers make their biscuits and rolls from scratch anymore, there just is not time with jobs and family duties begging for every minute. The fresh from the oven taste can be replicated with these premade ready to bakes. Sweet or salty, many varieties are here and well priced. The cookies are especially convenient, letting one bake just a few and resealing the pack for later use. A real time saver for these busy days.
Ah, the Nestle Toll House brand. This company sets the bar high for chocolate chip cookies, the favorite home made cookie of most Americans. The recipe printed on the back of the package of chocolate chips, we skipped that baking supply aisle with flour, sugar, nuts and chocolate among other things, is the stuff of legend. There simply is nothing superior, although some cooks like to tweak the ingredients ever so slightly. The one featured in the photo is filled with melty chocolate. Now someone has been doing some marketing research. A college education put to good use.
Well, what did you think of the grocery store? This is typical for a small town like ours. Larger cities have much fancier stores, with much more beyond food for sale. There are also the big box stores with discounted prices and less fancy stuff, more bulk packaging, cases of cookies rather than single boxes. The store we visited is somewhere in between. It is just the right size and they carry everything needed to feed my family well and frugally. There is plenty of fresh produce, displayed attractively and well priced. It is close to my house and rarely too crowded as long as we avoid the just picked the kids up from school crowd in the mid afternoon. Lots of crying children and stressed mothers then, not a good time for leisurely pleasure shopping. It is hoped that this taste of life will better illustrate the experience of cookie buying in the US.
The Orange. Frances Garrison