Sunday, July 5, 2020

The American Supermarket

The Atlantic – "The Pandemic Shows Us the Genius of Supermarkets"

"For some 300 years, Americans had fed themselves from small stores like Nathan Glickberg’s and from public markets, where shopping for food involved mud, squawking chickens, clouds of flies, cadaverous smells, haggling, bartering, and getting shortchanged. The supermarket took the Fordist factory, with its emphasis on efficiency and standardization, and reimagined it as a place to buy food. Supermarkets may not feel cutting-edge now, but they were—a “revolution in distribution,” one supermarket researcher declared in 1955. They were such exotic marvels that, on her first official state visit to the United States, in 1957, Queen Elizabeth II insisted on an impromptu tour of a suburban-Maryland Giant Food. During his own visit to the United States in 1989, Boris Yeltsin made an unscheduled, 20-minute detour to a Texas supermarket that is credited with souring him on communism. “When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons and goods of every possible sort,” wrote Yeltsin in his autobiography, “for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people.”"

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