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No, you put your tea in a petrol can
August 4, 2011 7:49 PM   Subscribe

Alex and Liam Do Walmart
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (109 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
OUTRAGE FILTER!!!!! I'M OUTRAGED. Wow, they have found the worst of america and are now ridiculing it- awesome, good work.
posted by TheBones at 7:54 PM on August 4, 2011


TheBones: “OUTRAGE FILTER!!!!! I'M OUTRAGED. Wow, they have found the worst of america and are now ridiculing it- awesome, good work.”

Actually, what's surprising is that they seem genuinely surprised and delighted at the spectacle of Walmart. And – I have to admit it – Walmart is impressive.
posted by koeselitz at 8:00 PM on August 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


Well, now I want an eyepatch, too.
posted by katillathehun at 8:04 PM on August 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I only wish I would have made a video of my trip to Tesco.
posted by birdherder at 8:10 PM on August 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


I discovered a slow leak in my tire last night and Walmart was the only place open who could fix it before the three hour drive I had to do this morning. With a couple of hours to kill for the two hours the Tire and Lube (heh) Express held my car hostage, I wondered about the store and just observed things. It was simultaneously fascinating and depressing. For example, while I parked myself on a bench in the sporting goods section, I was able to observe the process of purchasing a firearm. Not my first choice for a way to spend the evening, but kind of interesting just watching instead of going in, buying, and leaving.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:11 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed this silly thing.
posted by fake at 8:14 PM on August 4, 2011


Whoa. I'd never realized until just now that there are no Walmarts in the UK. (What's an Asda like?)

I honestly had no idea there were entire nations without Walmart. I mean, come on, China has Walmart.

Good for you, Britain! Really, though?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:16 PM on August 4, 2011


That was adorable. That was the most adorable, least depressing thing on the internet with the keyword "Walmart" that I have probably ever seen.
posted by cortex at 8:18 PM on August 4, 2011 [17 favorites]


Alex also has a hilarious series of Youtube videos in which he reads and reacts to Twilight. (Ignore the weird beginnings and endings; I have no idea what that's about.)
posted by enlarged to show texture at 8:18 PM on August 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sys Rq: “I honestly had no idea there were entire nations without Walmart. I mean, come on, China has Walmart. Good for you, Britain! Really, though?”

Nope. "In June 1999, Asda was acquired by Walmart and has grown into Britain’s second largest supermarket."
posted by koeselitz at 8:20 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Asda is just a supermarket, Walmart has a much larger selection of items.
posted by Harpocrates at 8:22 PM on August 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, uh, that's kind of why I linked to Asda and asked what it was like, koeselitz.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:25 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeesh, where did my reading skills go?
posted by koeselitz at 8:27 PM on August 4, 2011


so you put your petrol in tea containers

[pause]

no! you put your tea!..
posted by Danila at 8:31 PM on August 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


This was far less cynical and far more amusing than I expected. It reminds me of my nothing-else-to-do-let's-see-what-weird-shit-walmart-has-at-5-am-because-nothing-else-is-open adventures.

I'm sort of sad that I've had those adventures.
posted by unknownmosquito at 8:32 PM on August 4, 2011 [14 favorites]


Maybe it's just nationalistic pride, but even though my intellect knows American consumerism is an unchecked cancer... I find it charming when people from other countries experience and are agog by some of that gaudiness and excess first hand, such as Las Vegas, 24 hour supermarkets or the mind boggling square footage of the various superstores. Even when in high school in ~92, a couple of exchange students from the former Soviet Union couldn't believe that the parking lot full of (shiny, new) cars belonged to students and not teachers. The American Empire may be crumbling, but we had a pretty spectacular go of things for a while.

The corollary is my friend currently living in Geneva- which is hardly a poor area- with his wife (transferred for work) who posts plaintive photos of the "Ethnic" aisle of one of the only two local supermarkets, which consists of a few sketchy, dusty-looking boxes of 'Old El Paso'. It finally made me realize why some of our friends who occasionally visit from Liverpool always have as their first request after landing at Seatac "Take us to a fookin' Taco Bell, mate!".
posted by hincandenza at 8:40 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


You need a video of me gaping in wonder and awe at the snack aisle at Marks & Spensers.
posted by The Whelk at 8:42 PM on August 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


In the UK they do things like THIS, but in the US they do things like THIS!
posted by pencroft at 8:43 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


California = The GOLDEN State
Florida = The Sunshine State

Get it right, tourists!
posted by ShutterBun at 8:47 PM on August 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


Loved the incongruous pairings theme. In other news, it seems Wal-Mart is finally receiving some acceptance in Japan, of all places. (paywall)

Soon the average bloke won't think anything of an aisle full of ham and cheese loaves.
posted by L'oeuvre Child at 9:00 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: I find it less appealing when it's in a petrol can.
posted by thewalrus at 9:08 PM on August 4, 2011


I remember walking into a Target (never been close to a Walmart that wasn't an Asda) for the first time, hoping to stock up on food. I pushed my trolley round the aisles looking at all the various non-food stuff. The store was pretty big (though not huge) and half way through I still hadn't gotten to the food section. I abandoned my trolley thinking that I was mistaken that this store sold food. However, on my way out I found the food, went back to retrieve my trolley and began stocking up. But my joy was short-lived, as despite a good hard look I couldn't find fresh produce and was way too ashamed to ask. I guess it's not really a supermarket.

This experience clearly scarred me, as on a different occasion I stood outside a Trader Joe's unsure of whether to enter. I slyly peeked in to see what they sold, but couldn't confirm or disprove its supermarket nature. I skipped and headed to Safeway instead, which is known in England (although now gone).

I actually stopped going to Asda when I discovered they had been purchased by Walmart, so I have no idea what they're like in the past 5 years or so.
posted by Jehan at 9:08 PM on August 4, 2011


These guys should definitely visit T&T Supermarket in Chinatown in Vancouver BC. "Oh look, a frozen bulk package of ten neatly stacked soft shell turtles".
posted by thewalrus at 9:08 PM on August 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm sort of sad that I've had those adventures.

Don't be! Me and my friends used to do that all the time. If you go to college in the South, and your college town is cool but small, sometimes you end up kind of high at 3 in the morning (or 8:30 at night, or 1 on a Sunday afternoon) without much to do.

What we used to do was this: go to Walmart, pick up the most absurd thing we could find, and walk around with it. The first person who got a stranger to comment on his object won. The best game we ever played ended with me holding a 4 foot long rawhide dog bone like a caveman club, my friend walking around with a plastic lawn-ornament Virgin Mary that was almost as big as he was, and my other friend rolling a wading pool with BMX bikes drawn all over it through the aisles like he was playing hoop-and-stick.
posted by penduluum at 9:11 PM on August 4, 2011 [22 favorites]


Also, the whole "tea in a petrol can" is probably mistaken. The bottles resemble motor oil containers, and petrol cans often look quite different.
posted by Jehan at 9:11 PM on August 4, 2011


One of the first pictures that my parents took and mailed back to relatives in Hungary after they immigrated to the US in the early 1980s was a picture of the produce section of the local grocery story. Not a particularly big grocery store, just a local Albertson's that they still visit sometimes. In 1982, entering a single space with such a variety and selection, particularly of fruits and vegetables, all of the items stacked and glistening under fluorescent lights - oranges and lemons and bananas! - it seemed to them that they were moved to a storybook world, not another country. I'm sure that entering one of today's Walmarts would have convinced them they were on another planet entirely.
posted by that possible maker of pork sausages at 9:15 PM on August 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Just for whatever it's worth, my family hosted a 17-year-old French girl last summer. We spent most of her stay in our hipster trendy urban neighborhood, but part of her visit at my inlaws' cabin, in a small town where the only grocery store is the Walmart in the next small town over.

She loved it. It was the one place she went to where she could stock up on trendy American teenager accoutrements dirt-cheap. She loaded up on jelly bracelets, neon earbuds, faux-vintage Coca Cola teeshirts, dimestore cosmetics and shitty candy, and then when we got back to the city she Facebooked all her friends back home to tell them how amazing it was.

Go figure.
posted by padraigin at 9:16 PM on August 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Aww. Their innocence and wide-eyed wonder regarding the gluttonous nature of American consumerism is adorable.

I can relate. I remember the first time I saw one of those things when they were expanding West back in the late 80s and early 90s I was blown away. I thought it was just a warehouse or something. I have a set of grandparents liked to give cash wrapped in clever ways for Christmas presents, and then we'd shuffle off to Walmart as a group to spend it.

Yeah, crass I suppose, but it's a tradition without guile and it's easier on the grandparents. The kids get exactly what they want and they keep the whole tradition of gathering around to open presents, and often the cash was packaged with useful things like new socks, a hat or snacks and treats.

Anyway, when you step back and look at it Walmart is a pretty amazing system and machine. It might be a machine of global anti-labor misery and questionable ethics in it's thirst for market dominance and low prices, but it's certainly a well oiled one.
posted by loquacious at 9:25 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


... I stood outside a Trader Joe's unsure of whether to enter.

It's funny how much this screams "not an American" to me.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:28 PM on August 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


As a Californian whom has only ventured into Walmart, Costco, and the like under duress, I recently saw the appeal when visiting my hometown in Montana. It basicLly downtown in a box.
The electronics store, housewares stores, the five and dime, pharmacy and a couple of clothing stores in one place.

Of course you've got to recall that letting Walmart in is what killed downtown in the first place. But if you'd only arrived in the last decade it might seem magical.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:33 PM on August 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


A French scientist friend of mine came to California for a visit, and on one of his last days he asked if we could go to Walmart so he could shop for toys for his kids.

Surprisingly he seemed to want to talk to the cashier a little bit longer than I would have expected. As we left the store to drive home, he looked like he was about to cry. "The people here are so nice," he said. "In France they would not be half as nice."

I guess it's easy to dis your own country if you're being polite around hosts, but I was so ashamed of Walmart at the time, so self-conscious that he even had a Walmart in town, that I was completely floored.
posted by circular at 9:34 PM on August 4, 2011


I toured much of Europe for two months and I have to say when I came home I was just as amazed as these guys. Even in bigger cities there just isn't a normal sized American supermarket, or wal-mart variety. The big ones are small enough to still call a corner market, and the prices are like a corner market.

When I finally got home and went out to Target to restock the house, I acted just like these guys. Holy shit, look at this! And it's only $1.29! Woah, I wish I had these before, and only $6, I'll take three! I missed this stuff, I'll have six of them! I went out for like 5 things and bought $200 worth of stuff. It had been so scarce and so missed for so many days I lost track of myself.

Good old American Consumerism. Yay!
posted by sanka at 9:35 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I few up in a small town and taking a girl to walmart was sen as a perfectly valid first casual date, like grabbing coffee. Life in the flyover states....
posted by humanfont at 9:37 PM on August 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


That was indeed completely adorable.

If you go to college in the South, and your college town is cool but small, sometimes you end up kind of high at 3 in the morning (or 8:30 at night, or 1 on a Sunday afternoon) without much to do.

Yeah, I think this is a universal American trait, as I spent too many hours during my youth wandering around drunk or high in Meijer (the midwest equivalent of Walmart). In a suburban town, they kind of become a community place.
posted by formless at 9:38 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I'd been able to afford a video camera when I was twenty, I would have done the same thing wherever I went!
posted by not_on_display at 9:43 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I grew up in a part of New England free of Wal-Marts and Costcos for the first two decades of my life.

They still seem pretty weird.
posted by zippy at 9:46 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am faintly jealous of the video technology available to younger people. How cool it must be to always have a camera available during that time in your life...
posted by fake at 9:48 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't know how much time has gone by but I'm still sitting here watching Alex read Twilight. I think we're on chapter 15. This is so funny to me.
posted by Danila at 9:49 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure about the European/USA issue here:

1) I've just returned from Prague, where there was a truly amazing Tesco Plus on the main shopping drag, two blocks from my hotel: 5 floors, with the food in the basement. Essentially, it was a Macys, but much cheaper (jewelry, handbags, accessories and cosmetics on Ground; Junior wear on 1st; Womens and Mens on 2nd; luggage, electronics, small appliances and stationary on 3rd; furniture and appliances on 4th). I spent an extra 10 days in Europe (buggered by charter airline, who cancelled my return flight then re-booked it 10 days later) and Tesco provided cheap socks, underwear, raincoat and bag to pack it in - not to mention cheap cell phone (to call up charter and curse them = 1740.00 CZLK) -- and a bunch of rather awesome Brit-label clothes that were both fun and cheap.

2) my immediate reaction to their Wal-mart is "Shit, that's really badly stocked: there's empty shelves everywhere". This is crappy. Costco would blow their minds...
posted by jrochest at 9:49 PM on August 4, 2011


I used to play the Walmart game back in college. Basically, you and each of your friends select 3 random items out of a hat, find them in the store and then buy them - impatiently at 2 in the morning... While it costs a little coin, and you probably wind up with a few useless purchases, its fun to have people judge you by your purchases. The key part was to purchase them with a sense of loud urgency...

Most infamous purchase: A jar of Vaseline, a box of rubber gloves and a toilet plunger.
Honorable mention: a stopwatch, some tampons, and a bottle of Geritol.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:56 PM on August 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


Wow. We don't have Walmart here. But Costco opened up in Sydney two weeks ago...I took ToddlerTaff in her stroller on opening day. If only she had been willing to hold my iPhone, rather than play games on it, we could have made the exact
same video. America....words fail me.
posted by taff at 9:57 PM on August 4, 2011


gaudiness and excess first hand, such as Las Vegas, 24 hour supermarkets

While i tend to wish for 24 hour every type of store, it surprises and kind of infuriates me that you consider the 24 hour supermarkets "gaudy and excessive". You must work a 9 to five. Imagine everything you needed to do was either closed when you are working or awake. I doubt you can, because it's not as easy as you think until you need groceries or banking or other services and can't get them. Every area should have at least one 24 grocery store. It's beyond depressing to only have a convenience store to get food at, or be exhausted trying to stay awake or get up without enough sleep to go these places.
posted by usagizero at 9:58 PM on August 4, 2011 [19 favorites]


Somehow (i.e. grew up in Santa Cruz) I made it into college before being in a GIANT store. My reaction to Target was pretty similar to their reactions, much to the amusement of my friends.

You need a video of me gaping in wonder and awe at the snack aisle at Marks & Spensers.

That's how I feel about their sandwich aisle. A whole aisle! Of sandwiches!
posted by grapesaresour at 10:01 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


humanfont: "I few up in a small town and taking a girl to walmart was sen as a perfectly valid first casual date, like grabbing coffee. Life in the flyover states...."

I grew up in a small town too: Walmart as a date, casual or not, is utter bullshit and doesn't happen.
posted by aerotive at 10:05 PM on August 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Alex also has a hilarious series of Youtube videos in which he reads and reacts to Twilight. (Ignore the weird beginnings and endings; I have no idea what that's about.)

This is fantastic, thanks for posting it!
posted by fshgrl at 10:05 PM on August 4, 2011


I am in Toronto, just north of Christie Pits, and there are two 24 hr supermarkets within 2 blocks. Yes, they are wonderful. But they are still not Costo, which is a brain-melting storehouse of Awesome Things You Had No Idea You Needed (And So Cheap!).

Every time I go to Costco I spend 600.00. It's like Ikea. You go to buy gas and contact lenses and emerge with a new vacuum cleaner and a patio set.

Oh, and seven sets of towels. And two pairs of pants that probably won't fit, but they're Calvin Klein for only 7.99!
posted by jrochest at 10:06 PM on August 4, 2011


hosted a 17-year-old French girl

Wow that sounds like trouble!

The disdain for the American food item was funny coming from the British.
posted by dibblda at 10:09 PM on August 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


The disdain for the American food item was funny coming from the British.

Yeah, they should have kept their mouths shut. Also then we wouldn't have had to see their bad teeth something something [insert stereotype here]...

...wait, cheese infused ham and pizza with cookies meal combo? I'm beginning to wonder if "baconnaise" is actually a real product after seeing those.
posted by Jehan at 10:17 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Beginning to wonder?
posted by darksasami at 10:20 PM on August 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Baconnaise is not only real, it's available at Walmart.

/scribbles shopping list
posted by jamaro at 10:33 PM on August 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Not trying to turn this into a Doctor Who thread, of all things, but Alex and Liam also happen to be members of Chameleon Circuit, who just released their second album and are probably one of the best Time Lord Rock bands out there.

'Cause, you know, it's a big genre...
posted by maqsarian at 10:48 PM on August 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


My friends and I used to make similar videos when we were in high school some 15 years ago. But we don't have silly British accents so no one wants to watch them.

:(

Wal-Mart sucks.
posted by LoudMusic at 11:00 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


When we went to Spain recently, my wife and I were somewhat enthralled with El Corte Ingles. Especially the ones with grocery stores.
posted by LionIndex at 11:14 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I grew up in a small town too: Walmart as a date, casual or not, is utter bullshit and doesn't happen.

Maybe they do things differently in your part of bumblefuckdom.
posted by humanfont at 11:19 PM on August 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Customers Trapped Inside Walmart Insist They Never Shop At Walmart
posted by philip-random at 11:24 PM on August 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Last time I went to Walmart, it was to pick up emergency cleaning supplies. I ran into a coworker. We both agreed to pretend we never saw each other there.

I grew up in a small town too: Walmart as a date, casual or not, is utter bullshit and doesn't happen.

I went to The Container Store for a date once - and we were already adults. It was hands down one of the best first dates I've ever been on.

Walmart, in comparison, has way more potential.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 11:29 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I figured 24 hour supermarkets are pretty common in America these days. Even the town I live in has 2 and I'm out in Twin Peaks territory.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:55 PM on August 4, 2011


Next: Alex and Liam do a biker club.
posted by clavdivs at 11:59 PM on August 4, 2011


boring
posted by puny human at 12:22 AM on August 5, 2011


Oh yeah.. Spiky hair and goggles are back.

(Bring me my roller blades. I have a Gibson to hack..)
posted by Ahab at 12:27 AM on August 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm in Seattle. I moved from Ballard to Beacon Hill in May.

While the place we live in now is nicer in almost every way, the one thing I miss is a 24-hour supermarket for when I have an insomniac night. I could walk out to 24th street at 5:30 AM, catch a bus down to QFC, get some random stuff that made me feel better, come home and hang out and then, usually between the Chinese pork and the Cheez-it, start to feel sleepy (no caffiene or energy drinks) and finally lay down for that 8 hours.

Or my roommates and I would, at 1 AM, get the mighty need for chicken nuggets and Oreos, and we could head to the Ballard Market and get it.

Down here in Beacon hill, the nearest grocery store closes at midnight and re-opens at 6 AM, so if there's one of those, it's a lot harder to deal with it.

On the bright side, I arrived in Seattle about a month ahead of my furniture, so the fact we could run up to the 24-hour Wal-mart in Lynnwood and grab a camping mattress, some cheap pillows and sheets, and a big bag of chips and a tub of onion dip was a real plus.
posted by mephron at 12:31 AM on August 5, 2011


"It's Coke ALL THE THINGS!"
posted by BungaDunga at 12:44 AM on August 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


Nice as this was, these were not some wide-eyed boys coming from North Korea into the brilliant light white of American consumerism- they are from the UK where there are Tesco Extras, Costcos and Asda. Walmart stores are a bit bigger than the biggest TescoExtras but not by a WTF dimension by any stretch. I think there was more than a degree of gentle piss-taking at work here. I was thinking when they pointed to the the pizzas and cookies combo it was more gently wondering 'why the fuck would you do that?' rather than wide-eyed wonder.

The disdain for the American food item was funny coming from the British.
I honestly think you have no fucking clue what British food is like nowadays.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 1:03 AM on August 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


I honestly think you have no fucking clue what British food is like nowadays.

Yep. And picking out one of the weirder things in the market for ridicule is just as bad.

I was able to purchase some "spotted dick" in a can recently in my local market so it looks like some British food is making it over to your colonies.
posted by dibblda at 1:45 AM on August 5, 2011


I was thinking when they pointed to the the pizzas and cookies combo it was more gently wondering 'why the fuck would you do that?' rather than wide-eyed wonder.

Yeah, this was my read as well, as a Canadian. In part because we do the same thing in American megastores.

We have Walmarts here in Canuckistan, for example, but mrs gompa and I still inevitably wind up marveling/recoiling in horror at the sheer variety of stuff and the staggering mix of redundancy and inexplicable invention on offer in American consumer paradises. Go to a Canadian grocery store, there are two or three brands of frozen broccoli in the cooler; we once counted seven at a supermarket in upstate New York. Awhile back, in Philadelphia, we spent a good five minutes inspecting a loaf (?) of Scrapple, mainly wondering what the fuck it was exactly. Mrs g also once convinced a Roy Rogers employee at an Interstate rest stop to let her come back behind the counter to pose with the "butter wheel" - the big spinning drum coated in melted butter they were using to mass-slather their biscuits and buns. And though our hometown supermarkets aren't lacking in junky convenience foods, we still pause in awe before stuff like those Jimmy Dean chocolate chip pancakes and sausage on a stick that Jon Stewart likes to make fun of.

The rest of the western consumer world has its share of excesses, but America is - for good and/or ill, because for every pancake on a stick there's a Tar-zhay - the place where you can find the greatest number of them under a single roof. Even if it's mostly familiar, the amazements are particularly amazing.
posted by gompa at 1:54 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was thinking when they pointed to the the pizzas and cookies combo it was more gently wondering 'why the fuck would you do that?' rather than wide-eyed wonder.

That video is the only place I've ever seen a frozen pizza combined with cookies. There are a lot of large stores in my locale including a few Walmart stores. Is some of this stuff purely regional? It just screams bad idea.
posted by dibblda at 2:04 AM on August 5, 2011


Back in the late 90s into the early oughts, there was a 24 hour Home Depot nearby. It was insanely convenient for me, a new homeowner at the time. They trimmed back their hours after the dot com boom finally busted for good. To this day I miss having a home improvement center nearby to get the odd supplies at my convenience.

That video is the only place I've ever seen a frozen pizza combined with cookies. There are a lot of large stores in my locale including a few Walmart stores. Is some of this stuff purely regional? It just screams bad idea.

Indeed. No frozen pizza can ever do justice to such a magnificent combination.
posted by 2N2222 at 2:16 AM on August 5, 2011


Here on the south end of the island, we have a supermarket which stays open until 10. It is the Safeway of your 1970s youth, nothing fancy about it at all.

I miss 24-hour stores. That said, I'd be divorced if I started up one of the cars at 2AM to go get a peanut butter cup, so I guess it's all for the best.
posted by maxwelton at 3:01 AM on August 5, 2011


so you put your petrol in tea containers

[pause]

no! you put your tea!..


Yeah, I think they were thrown by having a Walmartian be clever back at them.

I grew up in a small town too: Walmart as a date, casual or not, is utter bullshit and doesn't happen.

I had a girlfriend who loved to go to Walmart and sit on the porch swings in the garden section. I know we went there at least once only to do that.

Fun video!
posted by solotoro at 3:41 AM on August 5, 2011


I first experienced a Walmart about 8 or 9 years ago, in south-eastern Ohio. I'd honestly never seen anything like it. One day, my farmer guy had a lot of work to do and didn't want me to be bored and by myself. I said "drive me into town and drop me at Walmart". He said he was going to be busy ALL DAY, but I said, no worries, I'll be fine.

I was dropped off at 8am, he picked me up at 7pm, and I had a full day in Wallyworld, with a break for lunch at the Chinese buffet next door. I'd never seen anything like it. As Alex and Liam said, you could live there. It was also mind-blowing to me to see a supermarket selling firearms.

It was unusual to find someone with an English accent in that part of the world, so I ended up chatting with a lot of the staff after they asked if they could help me - and they all knew my guy, or had been at school with his sisters, or knew his mum from church (small town America, nobody can have a secret, particularly a secret British girlfriend).

I'd expected to find nothing but junk food in there. Well, there was more junk food in that Walmart than I'd ever seen before in my life, but there was also lovely fruit and veg and a good meat and fish section. They sell the cheesiest Christmas sweaters which we absolutely cannot buy in the UK. I must have spent two hours in my favourite section - hair, make-up and beauty products. It was like I'd died and gone to heaven - all those exotic and unusual brands we don't get in the UK, like COVERGIRL!!

It's true, Walmart changed downtown. The electrical, housewares and furniture stores have gone. Most of those stores are still empty and downtown is a dead zone. But the lady who was struggling to keep her little craft store open told me that it wasn't Walmart that was killing her business - Walmart didn't stock as much yarn or as many tapestry patterns as she did. It was the internet that was destroying her business - people could browse thousands of yarns or patterns online, it was light to ship and why would people drive 10 or 15 miles into town, particularly in bad weather, when they could walk to the mailbox.

So, yes, I have mixed feelings about Walmart in small-town America. I love visiting it, but I can see how it's changed the face of small-town America.
posted by essexjan at 4:03 AM on August 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


Someone needs to let them know that the word "lube" means the same thing in the U.S. as it does in the U.K. I think this is the reason why Jiffy Lube does better than Snappy Lube (what with that snapping turtle as a mascot).
posted by NoMich at 4:11 AM on August 5, 2011


I'm guessing that they've never encountered this chain of restaurants.
posted by octothorpe at 4:33 AM on August 5, 2011


Awhile back, in Philadelphia, we spent a good five minutes inspecting a loaf (?) of Scrapple, mainly wondering what the fuck it was exactly.
Scrapple is really good. It's one of our few genuinely local foods, so it doesn't represent the "American consumerism" focus of this thread. And it tastes dynamite pan-fried with syrup.
posted by Peach at 4:50 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well that was delightfully charming.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:19 AM on August 5, 2011


Seconding gompa when it comes to the reactions of most Canadians and even UK people when it comes to places like this. As an American, I see nothing odd or unusual about having a bajillion different kinds of things under one roof. It wasn't until I moved to Canada and when back across the border with Canadians that I realized we are spoiled for choice in the US. While places like the UK and Canada (which I love more than the US) have interesting and cool products, it's nowhere on the scale of seeing friends flip out in a salad dressing aisle because, Holy shit, how can there be that many salad dressings/cereals/etc?
posted by Kitteh at 5:37 AM on August 5, 2011


I really want him to read all the other Twilight books as well. HE IS DELIGHTFUL.
posted by elizardbits at 5:47 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I grew up with Meijer, myself... Well, lived in small town Montana for quite a while but even before we moved back to MI we went to the superstore when visiting my grandparents. It doesn't seem weird to have a store where you can buy liquor, cheese, pastry, clothes, dishes, toys, a bike, and small lumber unless you grew up without it. I remember the first time a friend from NYC went into the store. He about flipped. It was like an otherworldly experience for him.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:58 AM on August 5, 2011


I was skeptical until they got to "Coke: All the Things" at which point I let out a hearty guffaw in spite of myself.
posted by jph at 6:25 AM on August 5, 2011


Gotta say, when I lived in Europe, I missed the hell out of Target/Walmart/Superstores where I could take care of everything at once. Going to five separate stores scattered all over the city to get the five separate things I needed took forever.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:42 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


That video is the only place I've ever seen a frozen pizza combined with cookies. There are a lot of large stores in my locale including a few Walmart stores. Is some of this stuff purely regional? It just screams bad idea.

They've got 'em in my local Fred Meyer in North Portland, too. I can't think of anything that would make west coast cities the specific target market for a Digiorno & Cookies initiative or whatever, but who knows.
posted by cortex at 6:50 AM on August 5, 2011


I haven't seen the Frozen Pizza/Cookie combination in my local store's freezer section, but the TV commercials are everywhere. And they're painful.

They also make a Frozen Pizza/Chicken Wings combo that is heavily advertised, as well.
posted by kuanes at 7:02 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


SLYT link for the commercial mentioned above
posted by kuanes at 7:03 AM on August 5, 2011


No.
posted by likeso at 7:07 AM on August 5, 2011


We have these pizza/cookie and pizza/WANGS combo packs here in Minneapolis and they bewilder me too, and I'm American born and raised.
posted by padraigin at 7:09 AM on August 5, 2011


Strictly food, but if you're ever in Illinois or Wisconsin, you must go to a Woodman's Food Market. They have EVERYTHING, including most of an aisle of British food (along with Indian, Thai, etc - and 2 aisles of Mexican food). Plus, they're employee-owned and they only take cash so they're cheap.
posted by desjardins at 7:12 AM on August 5, 2011


"... I love visiting it, but I can see how it's changed the face of small-town America."
posted by essexjan at 7:03 AM on August 5

Great story, essexjan. But in kind of a strange loop, Walmart.com is changing Walmart, too. You can get about 3x the selection of items in categories like furniture and outdoor products on Walmart.com as you can in even the biggest Supercenter locations. And if you have the items delivered to the local store, you don't pay shipping at pickup, but you do pay local tax, if you're interested in supporting your local government functions with your shopping dollars. Or, in many cases, you can have the products shipped directly to your home, if that's more convenient, and Walmart.com, because it has brick-and-mortar stores in nearly every U.S. tax jurisdiction, will still collect and pay local sales taxes. This is behavior in contrast to other large primarily Internet merchants, who often avoid collecting sales tax in most jurisdictions, because they don't have a physical presence there.

So, while Walmart has earned a reputation for predatory competitive behavior to local merchants, local governments often aren't all that opposed when Walmart planners show up at planning board meeting to pitch a new Supercenter.
posted by paulsc at 7:13 AM on August 5, 2011


Although I will admit to gawking in wide-eyed wonder at my first trip to Target after moving back to the US from the UK (mainly because I had a car, and secondarily because I left the UK when the exchange rate was £1=$2.15 omgwtf), I've got to disagree with the premise of this video.

Shopping in the US compared to the UK really isn't all that different. Big supermarkets are a bit different in the UK compared to the US, but they're honestly not that different, or even that much smaller. There are a few "staples" of American food that I was completely unable to find in the UK, and now also find myself missing occasional bits of British cuisine. (Also, didn't Marks & Spencer invent the Department Store/Supermarket hybrid?)

Despite the bad rap it gets, British food really is not all that bad. There's also plenty of spillover from Mainland Europe and India, which more than forgives the occasional British culinary atrocity. In America, we only get bad Mexican food, and whatever it is that Canadians eat (ice and/or Tim Hortons?). Even at that, some of the best Mexican food I've ever had came from the UK. (That said, anywhere I go, I do miss the melting pot of delicious and inexpensive immigrant cuisine that can be found around the NYC Metro Area. New York's Italian food gives Italy's Italian food a run for its money. Supposedly London has a similar scene, but I can't afford it.)

That said, Britain does have far more than its fair share of disgusting processed meat/cheese products. Most of what they made fun of were unfair/cheap shots, particularly given that they made fun of a number of things that also exist in the UK.

The Tesco Metro we had in our neighborhood was a damn handy thing to have, and I cannot believe that a similar concept does not exist across the US. They had 95% of what you needed crammed into a tiny store at about a 5%-10% markup over the larger supermarket across town. I cannot even imagine what their profit turnover must have been.

Trader Joes is really the only thing that compares to it in the US -- and TJ's stores here tend to be hugely successful. No surprise either, since they're owned by the same (European) guys who own Aldi. Their DC location has a bigger stockroom than retail space, because they literally turn over more than their entire inventory every single day. It's a firm refutation of the efficient markets hypothesis that nobody is even willing to compete in this space, in spite of what must be absolutely massive profits.

Oh. One last thing, Britain: When I lived on top of you, I was frequently served a dish called "American Bean Pie." Apart from my yearlong stint in the UK, I've lived in America my entire life, and have never encountered this dish, or frankly any dish that was as vile and disgusting as it. What the heck?
posted by schmod at 7:26 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The disdain for the American food item was funny coming from the British.
Dude, one of them was Scottish. If a Scot's telling you that something is too fatty then you have problems there. (NOT SCOTCH-IST)

I've seen this pizza item on the internet and it frightens me.

I went to a US supermarket in California - I don't remember the name, it seemed to mainly sell junk food so maybe it was the more discount-end, like Iceland here - and it seemed impossible to get unflavoured cream cheese.

We have massive supermarkets here - Tesco is seen in a similar way as Wal-Mart, something like one pound in every seven spent in the whole UK goes through their tills. The big stores have clothing, appliances and opticians, but not to the scale of Wal-Mart. I imagine it's like the French Monoprix, which gave me the impression that you could move next door to one and never need to catch the bus again. Many UK supermarkets are 24hrs, and have 'world food' aisles and all your Jewish and Halal products and other stuff you might not find at the corner store, but not on that scale.

I love foreign supermarkets, perhaps because I work in advertising or perhaps because I always liked food shopping for some reason. I find Extreme Couponing fascinating, because you can't do that over here, and the sheer excess of goods is bewildering. And I would actually really like to visit a Target. When they do their collaborations, like the ones with Liberty, you can only get them here from upscale stores at twice the price...and I could probably buy all the make-up I need for a year in one of those for about 7p.
posted by mippy at 7:37 AM on August 5, 2011


Can I possibly be the only person here who has no idea what even happened in that video because I spent the whole time thinking WHERE DO I GET A WYLD STALLYNS T-SHIRT?
posted by rusty at 8:25 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


To be fair, I had much of the same reaction of "I-can't-believe-how-freaking-huge-this-place-is-and-the-variety-of-things-sold-here-is-absurd" when I visited Harrods way back in 1989. And I'm sure I could have found any number of items for sale that would have struck American tastes as bizarre. Of course, the decor there is more Crossroads-of-Empire and less Warehouse-of-Despair.
posted by Trace McJoy at 8:30 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Of course, the decor there is more Crossroads-of-Empire and less Warehouse-of-Despair.

Sounds like Europe vs. US generally.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:35 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Trace McJoy, the Harrods of 1989 (which I saw in 1986 -- THOSE FOOD HALLS!!!) was much les awesome when I returned in 1992 and '93. What it's like now I am too sad to find out.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:41 AM on August 5, 2011


The frozen pizza/cookie combo exists in Chicago supermarkets as well too -- though I'd doubt, if were regionally stereotyping, that would surprise anyone.

It's funny -- I haven't watched this video (and can't unless I call it up on my phone because I'm at work), but reading the comments, when I saw "UK boys acting adorably in an Internet video" I was fairly sure it was related to Chameleon Circuit, even before I got to the comment proving me right. Those kids are all right and some of their songs are pretty fantastic for a "novelty act." Talented, cute, and fans of Doctor Who -- my boyfriend jokes that if I was 20 odd years younger, they'd be my Justin Bieber; I'm embarrassed how accurate that might have been and so glad that I'm not 20 years younger.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:03 AM on August 5, 2011


The DiGiorno brand was recently sold to Nestle by Kraft, in order to finance Kraft's purchase of Cadbury. The addition of "Wyngz" and Tollhouse Cookies are Nestle's attempts to expand the line by combining it with some of their other frozen brands.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:24 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


^ Also, much like how the pizza+wings combo was intended for game night, the pizza+cookie pairing makes sense as an impromptu snack for kids as you distract them with a DVD, as opposed to an appeal to some puzzling regional palate. The people who made the commercial were probably just too cheap or lazy to hire new actors.


I can somewhat relate to the original video's cynicism-turned-enthusiasm for the store. Ten years ago, the stores were overwhelming and nauseating, but they've since done things like adding fresh produce and opening the aisles a bit to make things more agreeable. And while it does have a reputation for being synonymous with American excess, I've found it very conducive to living frugally. I got a cheap walk-in eye exam there to update my prescription, and then bought glasses elsewhere online. They had picture frames on clearance for $2.50, so I stockpiled those and now have a clean, gallery-like uniformity to all my photos and stills. It's a fascinating company, economically speaking, whether that's w/r/t modern inventory management and or when speaking of one's personal economy i.e. living resourcefully.

> I recently saw the appeal when visiting my hometown in Montana. It basically downtown in a box.
Brings to mind their recent 'Match It' ad, which likens the breadth of their supply chain to a diverse community. The funny irony, though, is how it basically puts a smiling, affable face to what is essentially a cutthroat, if not predatory, pricing strategy.
posted by marco_nj at 9:42 AM on August 5, 2011


On a related note, I recently visited Glasgow and was struck, while suddenly roped into shopping at Primark with my boyfriend's mother, who I'd just met, and his crazy aunt, how similar our cultures really are (I'm American). It was somehow exactly like being dragged to Sears [insert your awful, cheap American department store of choice here] with my own mother and crazy aunt. Tasteless and mind-numbing and florescent and loud, but fun if you don't think too much. We did buy a polka-dot tie and a pair of sunglasses for £2!

And yes: you could also live in Marks & Spencer's! I'd be slightly happier.

And Walmart is also a date destination in small-town upstate NY. I'm ashamed to say I have had a makeout-session in the outdoor home & garden area. Just once!
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 9:43 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


For the record, it's pronounced MalWart.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:48 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


True story: My mother made me ham-and-cheese-loaf sandwiches for lunch every day when I was in third grade. At the end of the year, I couldn't even look at the package in the store without gagging. For at least ten years afterward, the thought of ham and cheese loaf, particularly the texture of the little nuggets of cheese embedded in the ham, would cause my gorge to rise; I consequently minimized my exposure to it as much as possible. It has now been 29 years since ham and cheese loaf last passed my lips and I am pleased to say that I did not even cringe when he held up the packets of it. I still won't go near it in real life.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 10:14 AM on August 5, 2011


So baconnaise really exists? You win this round internet.
posted by Jehan at 10:19 AM on August 5, 2011


The Pizza/Cookie Dough combo isn't new. Papa Murphy's Take & Bake Pizza has been selling cookie dough next to their pizzas for years. I haven't picked anything up from them in a long time but whenever I did it looked like they didn't have any selling the dough.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:05 PM on August 5, 2011


*didn't have any problem selling the dough.*
posted by P.o.B. at 12:07 PM on August 5, 2011


I arrived in Seattle about a month ahead of my furniture, so the fact we could run up to the 24-hour Wal-mart in Lynnwood

....what? But you lived in Ballard, no? Were you unaware of the gigantic Fred Meyer store right in your neighborhood? There's something kind of amazing about being able to walk into a single box the size of a small village, browse around a while, and then hit the checkout line carrying a pair of jeans, two pounds of carrots, a gold necklace, a gallon of paint, a couple of flash drives, and a new couch.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:06 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Aaaaaaaanyways, these guys are hilarious and endearing. I'd like to see more.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:01 PM on August 5, 2011


" I had much of the same reaction of "I-can't-believe-how-freaking-huge-this-place-is-and-the-variety-of-things-sold-here-is-absurd" when I visited Harrods way back in 1989."

Harrods is a large, one-off department store catering to the very high-end of the market - there is stuff they sell there that would be weird to Londoners too. I think it;s mostlyMiddle-Eastern tourists and dowager duchesses who shop there these days. Next time you come you should look at Liberty or Fortnum and Mason's - one a arts/home shop, the other food. Both gorgeous and both very expensive.
posted by mippy at 4:01 PM on August 5, 2011


Fortum and Masons' cafe right off the food hall is almost worth the plane flight.
posted by The Whelk at 4:13 PM on August 5, 2011


The Tesco Metro we had in our neighborhood was a damn handy thing to have, and I cannot believe that a similar concept does not exist across the US.

It's called Fresh & Easy and it's actually owned by Tesco. They are nice stores, but are only in a few states. They opened far too many locations too quickly, and suffered a bit as a result. There's one near me that never opened; it's been sitting there empty, mocking me, for more than two years now.
posted by bgrebs at 4:14 PM on August 5, 2011


Fortum and Masons' cafe right off the food hall is almost worth the plane flight.

I would slaughter untold millions for a steady supply of F&M's blood orange marmalade.
posted by elizardbits at 2:44 PM on August 7, 2011


Until Wal-Mart sells trifles, it will not be as awesome as a Tesco's (much less a Sainsbury's).
posted by zippy at 10:35 PM on August 11, 2011


Honorable mention: a stopwatch, some tampons, and a bottle of Geritol.

1 / 2 / 3
posted by zippy at 10:44 PM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


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