Patrick Slack staff headshot

Patrick Slack

There are things we romanticize about our childhood, things we overlooked at the time, things we maybe didn’t understand.

Then there are those rare things that have stood the test of time. I’m of course talking about the game show Supermarket Sweep.

Much to my surprise and delight this week, I turned on Netflix and found the goofy show from the early 1990s featured.

There was a short span of time growing up when all of my older siblings were in high school sports while I was still in elementary school, so I walked to my grandma’s after school. My grandma had sugar cookies at the ready and cable TV. What more do you need?

The show was simple and wholesome. Answer some wordplay questions about food and shopping during the first half of the show to build up time for the “Big Sweep” at the end. Be willing to do so while wearing thick, “colorful” sweaters. Ugly. They were ugly sweaters.

Still, everyone always looked so happy, so carefree in the supermarket. Every item was in stock. There was toilet paper aplenty. There weren’t any skirmishes about masks. Simpler times.

Finally came the “Big Sweep” and the real reason to watch.

My poor wife never saw the show growing up. Sad for her, but fortunate for me, as I got to explain the strategy of the “Big Sweep” as we rewatched it this week. See, the first thing you want to do when you’re living your dream of running down the aisles is go for the hams and turkeys — it makes for great TV after all. But see, they’re heavy and cart stuffers. Stick with the health and beauty products, find some cleaning and baby supplies, catch a couple bonus items, then get the heavy hitters at the end.

I can still hear my sweet grandma clapping for the winners and saying “Ohhhhh nooooo” when they fell short on those game shows. You only earned my applause if you won with good strategy, though.

As much as I can see the appeal of the Master Chef type shows of the current world, just give me three teams of people racing through grocery aisles trying to find specific items of processed food.

After the two and a half minutes or so of the “Big Sweep” was over and the final totals were tabulated, the winning team got a chance at the “Bonus Round” to try to solve a series of clues to locate a $5,000 item, but let’s be real, that part was pretty anticlimactic. Kind of like once I was finally old enough to get behind the wheels of the shopping cart and find out the most expensive items in the store didn’t come with a prize at all.

Still, it’s hard not to long for nostalgic times when things weren’t so complicated, like our childhood. Or, you know, 2019.

It’s special to be able to reconnect with treasured memories when possible, perfect or not. And even though I may never get to be on Supermarket Sweep, as soon as this social distancing thing is behind us, I’m racing down the aisles for two and a half minutes. I guarantee no one in the supermarket will out-shop me.

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