While the universe is wrapped up in the discord within the Republican Party, I believe the time has come to tackle a more pressing issue; grocery store product placement. In our busy world grocery shopping has become merely a weekly replenishing of basic necessities rather than the more sociable daily visits to
butchers and bakers once favoured. To facilitate this trek to the supermarket shoppers are encouraged to make a list and stick to it. I do half of that; I make a list, but have to admit I may stray a wee bit from the plan, especially if I am foolish enough to shop while hungry.
In our house my significantly better half and I both assume responsibility for drawing up the list. A lined pad is posted on the refrigerator and as one of us thinks of an item to be restocked, we write it down. Use the last chicken stock cube and forget to put them on the list and it is on your head! A few minutes on Friday morning over breakfast to add the staples – milk, bread and the like – and we are ready to go.
Being naturally curious I steal a glance at the list a few times during the course of the week. About three times a year I read something there that gets my heart-rate rising, goosebumps appear on my skin and on one occasion I almost hyperventilated. What causes this reaction is not the actual product, but rather the anxiety I just know I will experience when I try to find the item in the store.
Is there something exotic about the listed merchandise that would make it tough to locate in a grocery store? Perhaps fillet of titmouse or aardvark’s arse. Not at all, it should be so simple. Is there going to be a run on the item that means I will have to dash about to ensure I get one? No.
The product that causes me so much angst is something as common as bread crumbs. This fine concoction can be used to coat chicken for frying or as a binder when making hamburgers. It is a standard in our kitchen, and I imagine in many others. So why can’t grocery stores get together and shelve them in the same place?
Sometimes they are with the pasta and tomato sauces. Being a fan of chicken parmigiana, I understand this logic. In other stores the breadcrumbs are placed with baking products. Yet other retailers put them in the Melba toast and breadstick section.
So on those few occasions a year when bread crumbs are on our list I approach the shopping chore with great trepidation. Where will they be this time? What if I exhaust my three usual locations with no luck? I have had several pleasant conversations with store employees as we hunted through the aisles in search of the elusive bread crumbs. ‘They used to be here.’ ‘I wonder where they are.’ Not the kind of statement one wants to hear from staff members. Fortunately they are grocery clerks and not surgeons!
Call me a conspiracy theorist if you want, but my most recent expedition to our local supermarket confirmed my suspicion. This is not a random produce management decision, but an attempt to make my blood boil as I curse under my breath while seeking out what I consider to be a basic staple. This time, after countless trips up and down aisles, no doubt resembling someone lost in a garden maze, I finally found my beloved bread crumbs in a new section entirely. No doubt having noticed that the bread crumbs have Italian seasoning, someone decided they should be stacked in the imported food section. Right beside Indian curries and Jamaican patties. They must stay up nights thinking of places to put them.
So I have decided to take matters into my own hands. On behalf of bread crumb searchers everywhere, I plead, beseech, beg and implore grocery store managers to pick one spot and stick to it! I will even go a step further and suggest the best spot. Given the nature of the product, I have always believed the logical place to shelve bread crumbs is … with the bread! If chocolate chips are to be found one shelf below blocks of baking chocolate, does it not follow that breadcrumbs should be with bread?