Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Some things happened at Kroger last week.

Daniel and I were browsing the cereal aisle when a masculine, gray-haired man walked up and put a box of Fiber One back on the shelf. He looked at Daniel and me and offered this unsolicited information: “Even with the coupon, it’s too much. One box is just two meals for me. I like big portions.” When he said “big portions” he gestured with his hands a plate about the size of a raccoon. I nodded in agreement, because the Fiber One is expensive, although this guy could probably cut down on his weekly food bill by consuming human-sized amounts. I think the serving size of Fiber One for a bear is half a box. If he’s concerned about his finances, then he especially needs to watch his intake, since toilet paper spending is directly related to Fiber One spending and that’s going to add up fast. He could also welcome some side dishes into his life. One bowl of cereal, no matter if you’re eating it out of a bathtub like that guy, can’t be a meal. Maybe he could pair his half-boxes with a dozen apples or a pillowcase full of grapes to round out the meal.

I did like that he gave us a detail about his life for just a nod in return. I’d like to do that when I’m old. I’ll look at kids and say, “The apples here are good, but I can’t eat them anymore because they make me turn into a lizard.”

There are stands of impulse-buys flanking the self-checkout registers loaded with gum, magazines, and Betty and Veronicas no one has ever considered purchasing. They’re items that are cheap, small, and easy to toss into your cart at the last second. But Kroger decided to try something crazy in the impulse-buy game that blew me away. Perched on top of two registers, demanding attention and begging to be bought, were two prickly pineapples. Full-sized, still-spiky, five-dollar pineapples.

Who sees those and thinks, “Man, you know, I really could go for some pineapple today. On the drive home I’ll get out my sharp knife, cut off the rind, slice it, towel off the juice before it ruins the upholstery, and put it into my mouth just as I’m about to drive into oncoming traffic because I was distracted by preparing that pineapple.”

I bet someone did buy one of those pineapples on impulse and thoroughly enjoyed it. And I’m happy for them. But for now I will continue to speculate.

There was a cereal box titled (are cereal box titles italicized?) Low Fat Granola: Crispy Whole Grain Cereal Without Raisins.

“Without Raisins” was part of the title. Chill out, box, no one assumed you were packing raisins. I never knew marketing was so easy. Just point out what your product doesn’t contain. Here are a few items that could try this strategy.

Cheese Pizza: Without Pepperoni
New Dell Inspiron Laptops: Without Mushrooms Growing Inside
Super Soaker 6000X: Without any Hamsters
Shutter Island: Not Directed by Sigourney Weaver

That was my wild and crazy time at Kroger last week. Nothing so far this week has been so insane.

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