Archived Story

Check out the many changes at grocery stores

Published 2:10pm Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Grocery stores have changed since I was a boy.

It’s obvious they have more items on their shelves. Back in the days when going to the grocery store was an adventure and I wasn’t paying for the groceries, you had four choices when it came to milk: regular milk, butter milk, chocolate milk and skim milk. These days there are many milk choices in addition to the aforementioned four. Today you may choose 2-percent milk, 1-percent milk, soy milk, organic milk and acidophilus milk.

Wonder what dairy cows think about all those types of milk competing with the milk that comes straight from them? I bet they think it’s “udderly” ridiculous.

Let’s take a stroll down the bread aisle. When I was wearing jeans, a striped, pullover Opie Taylor shirt (you fans of “The Andy Griffith Show” know what I mean), bread choices were limited to white bread — regular loaf or sandwich-style loaf. The only wheat bread I recall in those days was the Roman Meal bread in its distinctive packaging. Other than those heat-and-serve rolls, hot-dog buns and hamburger buns, there was not much more on the shelves. Today, we have split-top bread, nine-grain bread, rye bread, pita products, bagels, English muffins and hoagie rolls, just to name of few of the bread products that tempt us.

First there was smooth peanut butter. Next came crunchy peanut butter. After that came peanut butter and jelly combined in a swirl pattern. I prefer the peanut butter-strawberry jelly combination. There’s even organic peanut butter.

The biggest change, as far as I am concerned, when it comes to grocery stores is items available in the produce section. When I would accompany my mother or grandmother to the grocery story, the produce section offered the staples when it came to vegetables and fruit. Potatoes, onions, corn, squash, celery, cabbage, lettuce and beans were abundant. So were oranges, apples, bananas, pears, grapes, strawberries, limes and lemons.

What a difference 50 years makes. Today. I can avail myself of mango, kiwi fruit, bok choi, guava, star fruit, avocado, plantain, papaya and a variety of chile peppers. Most grocery stores have sections devoted to foods, beverages and condiments that target people with ties to Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean islands.

I routinely purchase a mojo-criollo sauce that serves well as a marinade for a pork butt or pork roast. Twenty years ago, I had never heard of mojo criollo.

Still, today’s grocery stores have at least one thing in common with their ancestors — the checkout lane, whether manned by a live cashier or self-service checkout. For some reason, the grocery stores still insist of being paid for their goods.

Mike Voss is the senior member of the newsroom at the Washington Daily News.


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