February 10, 2009

Grossed out and laughing...

... I'm loving this unauthorized commercial for Trader Joe's:



Via chuck b.

60 comments:

chickenlittle said...

Aww, I ♥ TJ’s

Rick Lee said...

Wow that's funny. That was so perfect I couldn't believe that it was made by an amateur, so I did a little Googling and found their website... http://www.carlsfinefilms.com ... Carl's Fine Films of San Francisco. There is a funny explanation of how the TJ film came about and there is also a version in Quicktime that's much higher quality than the YouTube.

onparkstreet said...

Why grossed out?

(so, I go to chuck b.'s tweet, scroll down, find a post about Meyer lemons and realize I bought a Meyer lemon at, er, well, it would be cool if I said Trader Joe's but it was Whole Foods.

I still will not tweet. After saying I'd didn't like twitter, I now realize I would become addicted.

John Stodder said...

Brilliant. I love Trader Joe's and I love Antonio Carlos Jobim, so what could be better than putting the two together. Kind of like...dark chocolate and edamame!

Ann Althouse said...

"Why grossed out?"

Aloe chunk juice, mint dog food, steer pizzle... must I go on?

tim maguire said...

So...does he like it or not?

My wife shops at Trader Joe's (I've never been). According to her, it's more like a big clean bodega than a grocery store.

MadisonMan said...

They really have an electric field that stops the carts? Must be a west coast thing.

A great film.

Joan said...

No electric-leashed carts here at the TJ's in AZ, at least not the three I've visited.

I cracked up over this video, it's so accurate. I don't get the grossed out thing, either -- people like/use all kinds of different things. If this TJ's ad grossed you out, you'd not survive a trip to Lee's Market, the awesome, huge Oriental supermarket that's not too far from me. It's practically like going to an aquarium, they have so many fish tanks. They also have the ducks and pigs hanging up, along with various other ... things. There are unidentifiable or just inexplicable things in every aisle. The ice cream flavors alone make my kids gag.

chuck b. said...

"They really have an electric field that stops the carts? Must be a west coast thing."

I think it's just a San Francisco thing--to thwart our massive homeless population from stealing shopping carts to cart their stuff around in.

chickenlittle said...

What I like about TJ's is that you can get some high quality, fairly priced items there and avoid the hipper-than-thou-ambiance of Whole Paycheck.

Ann Althouse said...

I like Whole Foods and don't see what's particularly hip about it. It's just high quality food in an aesthetically pleasing environment. If you have some extra money to spend, it is worth it for the inspiration to choose heathy foods and to feel reasonably good while doing the otherwise boring chore of shopping.

chickenlittle said...

I like Whole Foods and don't see what's particularly hip about it.

You need to see the one in La Jolla.

John Burgess said...

Madison Man: A local Latino market near me in SW FL has the electric cart-stopper, too, so it can't be exclusive to the Western US.

Trader Joe's, IMO, is far more laid back than Whole Food. Walking into WF is like going to church. Friendly greeters with the shiny skin of vegans. Customers there to be seen there and who can't leave behind their crappy behavior, even one day a week. There's a whiff of sanctimony about WF that you just don't pick up at TJ's.

Althouse: I can find recipes for bull pizzle easily enough, along with pig ears. The dogs that get the dried items are just getting treats. I cannot find a recipe for pig uterus, though... seeing in the market always leaves me puzzled. Now that is some serious gross....

Tibore said...

We don't have a Trader Joes where I live. :(

Ann Althouse said...

Trader Joe's has a hippie vibe that gives me painful flashbacks.

Alan said...

If y'all want to see the complete "hipster" aspect of Whole Foods, you need to visit the flagship store at their HQ:

Whole Foods HQ Grand Opening Blurb

It's definitely a "spot to be seen" on the west side of downtown Austin. Since we have W.F., we apparently can't have Trader Joe's here.

peter hoh said...

We have electric field cart-stoppers around the perimeter of the parking lots at several big stores in St. Paul.

I've never been to a Trader Joe's. Haven't been impressed by the gushing reviews from a handful of acquaintances, but this video leaves me feeling a bet curious.

paul a'barge said...

I'm at work so I viewed the video with the sound turned off and wow, that is really, really boring.

chickenlittle said...

from the article: Founded in Austin in 1980, Whole Foods (Nasdaq: WFMI)

I would buy Trader Joe's stock if it were publically traded. Ditto with In 'n' Burger.

miller said...

The line about "$2 wine that taste like 4" was priceless.

Finally, a wine that bites back.

blake said...

They really have an electric field that stops the carts? Must be a west coast thing.

We have a few stores out here (L.A.) that do that--but not our Trader Joes.

And the ones out here--we have 4(!) within about five miles--don't give off a hippie vibe.

TJ's (like Gelson's) has a bit of a cachet associated with it. You're a micro-celebrity if you work there. It garners respect you don't get working at a supermarket.

The "checker that's not there any more" part--they have pretty low turnover compared to other stores. I mean, I've known checkers who have worked there for 10 years or more. Plus, the checkers aren't zombies.

Interestingly enough (to me), during the last supermarket strike here, the nearby super was devastated. They lost their customers, and a lot of employees decided they'd rather work at TJs.

That store is closing now while TJs has opened up two more.

I don't like the games the supers play, myself. Cut the prices on one product and jack them up on another.
And milk is always $5/gallon unless you buy the crappy store brand.

I'd be glad to see them go. Or at least that way of doing business.

former law student said...

I cannot find a recipe for pig uterus, though

This restaurant serves it either boiled and sliced, as an appetizer, or pan fried with black bean sauce:

http://www.tainancafe.com/food.html

The Trader Joes in my area have the lowest prices for high quality dairy products, orange juice, and vegetables such as celery and green onions, as well as packaged salad mixes. Their tetrabrik packed soups are the same as Whole Foods'. Their bread is hit or miss, however. Some real gems can be found among the wines. Beer is not a bargain, but they once again have product from Monroe's former Huber brewery.

I also go there for raisins, and pure cranberry juice (not cocktail).

And depending on the neighborhood, hot moms are a staple.

Revenant said...

"I like Whole Foods and don't see what's particularly hip about it."

You need to see the one in La Jolla.

Heh! Funny you should mention that place. That particular Whole Foods replaced a Ralph's, thereby eliminating the only normal supermarket within easy walking distance of UCSD. Students without a car have a choice between Whole Foods and the Trader Joe's just up the street.

At least, that used to be the case. I haven't shopped in that area recently.

TexMex said...

Sometimes I get so irritated with my fellow Americans that I want to fold up my lawn chair and head off to Spain. Then I watch a video like this, and I'm content to put up with jerky s.o.bs across this fruited plain. Thanks for the hearty laugh carlsfinefilms. Needed that today.

Ern said...

Here on the edge of Silicon Valley, the TJ's stores in Menlo Park, Los Altos, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale don't have anything to stop shopping carts. What they do frequently have is people at the exit door soliciting - money, subscriptions to newspapers, signatures on petitions, which I really don't like. The repetitive bit in the commercial about "they don't have any more" is very true. Either TJ's doesn't carry it, or the store (particularly the one in Mountain View) is out of it.

Rick Lee said...

There's no TJs where I live but there's one next to the hotel I regularly stay at in Columbus. You should have seen the looks I got when I walked in and asked if they had ice for sale. (cue dramatic music)

William said...

In NYC we have Eli's and Zabar's. Some good food is worth a premium price. I don't mind paying extra for coffee, some baked goods,and fresh squeezed oj. But when I see stuffed shrimp for $50 a lb, I feel my inner Marxist become aroused. There are apparently people who are willing to pay $100 for an appetizer. Well it's their money and they're entitled to spend it as they wish. Nonethless, some forms of conspicuous consumption are just piggy.

chickenlittle said...

@Revenant: There's still a Ralph's in that commercial megaplex too--it's a bit south, across the "street".

traditionalguy said...

"Let them eat Whole Foods", said Ann-toinette Althouse. The appeal that attracts me to Whole Foods is partly a better class of customers to rub carts with, and partly that they carry excellent Flowers, wines, cheeses, eaten on site lunches/dinners and more Republicans than a place called Joes. Someone alert the Leftist blogsosphere.

kwood said...

"The beautiful moms in their yoga clothes..."

So true! So beautiful!

Very well done. I have been entertained.

Thanks.

paul a'barge said...

You need to see the one in La Jolla

Althouse goes to Austin, TX, the location of the flagship store of Whole Paycheck. And it's the top of the top as far as Whole Paycheck is concerned.

I can live without the uber-hippie-wanna-bes but I lurve the store.

Scott&Marti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chickenlittle said...

Well La Jolla is the top of the food chain out here, as this little parody makes clear.

PJ said...

THEY DON'T HAVE IT ANYMORE:


1. Tiny *round* dripping sour lemon cake. Omigod it was so great. It contributed heavily to my college roommate's eating disorder. She'd steal mine in the dead of night.

2. What we used to call STONE AGGREGATE CONCRETE blue corn chips. Huge blue cornchips- not the wussy ones they have now. First they started frying them with too much oil, then they disappeared.

Holidays only: real scottish shortbread cookies. Still there, perfect for Munchies: mini tacos trader joe's brand. Oven bake - but you can microwave in a pinch.

shake-and-bake said...

That was filmed at the TJ's near where I live. It's at Geary & Masonic in San Francisco. Pretty cool video.

Roger Sweeny said...

They really have an electric field that stops the carts? Must be a west coast thing.

Stores in eastern Massachusetts have it too.

Palladian said...

The clientele at my neighborhood (across the river actually) Whole Foods on the Lower East Side of Manhattan is the very definition of the "hipper-than-thou" attitude people have mentioned. But as it's New York, it's 100 times worse than pretty much anywhere else. It's 90 percent rich kids sporting the dirty skuzzball hipster look (greasy, unwashed, unkempt hair; pants so tight and skinny that they look spray-flocked on; half-beards; fluorescent green framed Ray-Ban Wayfarer IIs; Trilby hats with pheasant feathers; pointy-toed leather boots) and most of them both wearing outsized studio headphones and talking on their cell phones while trying to do the incredible balancing act of looking cool, ironic and disinterested while simultaneously grocery shopping. Believe me, you haven't tasted Hell until you've waited in line stuck between a woman with a Yoga mat under her arm haranguing a half-conscious employee in a hijab about whether the cream in the triple-creme cheese is organic and a guy wearing a pink bandana as a neckerchief and skinny jeans cut so low that you can tell he's a natural redhead trying to decide if the chard in his basket is more ironic than the toilet paper. That's Hell. I'd take Trader Joe's in a second over Whole Foods. It's New York: Fairway's much better.

RR Ryan said...

I have a Gelson's, a Bristol Farms and a Whole Foods(Oats? I can't keep them straight) in walking distance and now I'm getting a Trader Joe's on Sunset at Crescent Heights within two blocks of the house. Inside scoop is that it opens March 15. Not the most felicitous choice for an opening date, but I'll take it. Let's hope it lasts longer than Westward Ho, which opened the center many, many years ago.

Ann Althouse said...

I still don't see anything the slightest bit hip about Whole Foods. Maybe you have "hipsters" in your neighborhood and they shop there, but how does that make the store hip? I'm sure the hipsters also go into the Duane Reade to buy toothpaste, but that doesn't make it hip. Whole Foods is square. I was just at Whole Foods. I bought a steak, and the butcher made small talk about how I must be "treating" myself. That's cornball style.

misterarthur said...

Coke actually used that song (Aguas de Marco by Antonio Carlos Jobim) in the mid to late '80s...it ended up with Coke is it.

Palladian said...

"I still don't see anything the slightest bit hip about Whole Foods. Maybe you have "hipsters" in your neighborhood and they shop there, but how does that make the store hip? I'm sure the hipsters also go into the Duane Reade to buy toothpaste, but that doesn't make it hip. Whole Foods is square. I was just at Whole Foods. I bought a steak, and the butcher made small talk about how I must be "treating" myself. That's cornball style."

A place doesn't have to be "hip" in order to attract hipsters. The hipsters I'm talking about are almost uniformly of the same (high or relatively high) socio-economic class. They all shop at Whole Foods because it's the only place in the neighborhood that caters to the tastes of that class and type of people. The hipness of the place is in its ability to deliver what these people want: generally high-quality food presented in an acceptably "designed" environment (the Decor of Whole Foods, while not that "hip", is also not C-Town or Gristedes) with the added veneer of "social responsibility" and "Green awareness". And whether they are aware of it or not, they probably also go there because there are almost never any elderly people or families of Puerto Ricans or black teenagers shopping there. The clientele is homogeneous: young hipsters and early-middle aged hipsters that have spawned children but haven't yet realized that that is the end of hipsterdom (see Fairey, Shepard) and a few young financial district types. The high prices and limited selection is like a cover charge at a night club.

I'm sure the store in Madison is very different. I'm not talking about that, I've never been there. I'm talking about the Whole Foods stores in New York, especially this one on Houston Street.

"I bought a steak, and the butcher made small talk about how I must be "treating" myself. That's cornball style."

Probably because the steak you bought was the 30 dollars a pound aged sirloin that the butcher there couldn't afford except when he's "treating" himself. Your Whole Foods might not be a hipster haven, but like all the rest of them it's definitely the same socio-economic strata. Perhaps Madison lacks the sort of nasty hipsters that populate downtown New York. I call that a couple of large points in Madison's favor.

At least the butcher at your Whole Foods talks to you; the ones at the hipster Whole Foods serve up several pounds of silent contempt along with your chops.

Palladian said...

Trader Joe's on 14th street here in New York is a much more diverse assortment of shoppers and as a result a much less enervating shopping experience than Whole Foods. The lower prices attract all sorts of people. The only negative is the proximity of that Trader Joe's to a couple of NYU dorms, which means at certain hours it's absolutely jammed with boisterous freshmen all clawing for the last tub of Avocado's Number Guacamole.

onparkstreet said...

"The high prices and limited selection is like a cover charge at a night club."

That describes my whole inner ring suburb bobo neighborhood. And, places like San Francisco. Except, it's like the well to do and those they tolerate (so we have some section 8 housing, I think, and other places have their decorative homeless. It's not very nice to chase out the mom and pop middle class, which I thought the bobo/hipsters cared about. They do, they just don't see the connection, I suppose).

MadisonMan said...

Palladian, I suspect the Prof's butcher was making small-talk because that's a polite thing to do: engage the customer in small talk to make the shopping experience more enjoyable. It's also possible that the professor buys so many delicious steaks at WF that the butcher recognizes her.

When my then-in-Newton cousins were considering moving to Madison, one of the things that struck them was how orderly and polite everyone was at the deli counter at Whole Foods here compared to the one near Wellesley, where I guess it's elbows out and don't show any weakness or you'll never be waited on. Rather like driving on I-95 in Providence, I think.

There is one thing at WF I can't live without: Their store brand tonic water. Divine.

Palladian said...

People are much nicer in the Midwest.

Ann Althouse said...

Palladian, I've shopped at Whole Foods in New York, and I stand by my view. I don't think green responsibility is hip. It's just marketing to upscale folk. You scorn hipsters, but in this case, I truly believe I'm being more scornful of them. WF is just an expensive store with good stuff. It would be hip if there were some little known place with great stuff cheap. WF is the opposite.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

I used to occasionally grab lunch at Outpost Foods in Milwaukee. Lots of unusual items and people. The place was full of organic food and artsy looking young women with hairy armpits.

Palladian said...

I think we're defining "hipster" differently. When I say "hipster" I am referring to a very specific style, not to "hip" people in-general. New York City is the capital of the very specific, extraordinarily grotesque "hipster".

peekyou said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

I just said I didn't think WF was hip... quite aside from who shops there. As for your hipsters... they don't seem hip either.

William said...

Did hip people start moving into expensive food? I'm so far out of it I can't recognize hip people since they stopped wearing black. The people in Eli's and the Vinegar Factory don't look hip. They look like they hauled their ass through dental school and are now in earnest pursuit of some pleasure that will make their sacrifices worthwhile. All that work, all those cramming nights in order to buy a peasant dish like osso bucco. The haute bourgeoise at meat are a dispiriting sight. They look for novelty and status in their food they way poor people look for crunchiness and salt in theirs.

Kirk Parker said...

"If this TJ's ad grossed you out, you'd not survive a trip to Lee's Market, the awesome, huge Oriental supermarket that's not too far from me."

Well then, we'd better not even mention Chinatown in Vancouver BC.

blake said...

A nice thing about TJs is, when the lines get long, they'll open all the registers. They have that bell system where they ring for more checkers and soon they'll have all the checkstands going.

If that doesn't handle it, that means we're getting a new store.

chickenlittle said...

When I said "hipper-than-thou-ambiance", I was (a) scoffing at the notion that it is hip to be green and (b) digging at people who grocery shop at a place that promotes an attitude of superior virtue or self-righteous piety. “Stuff White People Like" parodies this here. :)

John Burgess said...

Palladian said: "And whether they are aware of it or not, they probably also go there because there are almost never any elderly people or families of Puerto Ricans or black teenagers shopping there."

While that's pretty much the case at the Georgetown (DC) WF, it's not at all the case at my SW Florida WF. Why, not only are their Black teenagers, but Mexican families shopping there. Of course, the are people with some disposable income. The ethnic markets caters to the lower economic side of things.

Alas, there's no Trader Joe's anywhere near me at present.

I don't mind spending a bit extra if I believe I'm getting better quality. I'd pay twice the price for Coke made with cane sugar, for instance. But I'll also pay real money for foods that I like that are not on the shelves of the typical market. Real German Westphalian ham, for instance, is worth an extra $0.40/lb to me. I'm still hunting down a local source for Black Pudding, but guess I'll have to order online.

FLS: Thanks for the tip. Southland Cafe is a bit outside my neighborhood, though. I guess I need to find a rustic Central American restaurant.

Ann Althouse said...

"chickenlittle said...
When I said "hipper-than-thou-ambiance", I was (a) scoffing at the notion that it is hip to be green and (b) digging at people who grocery shop at a place that promotes an attitude of superior virtue or self-righteous piety. “Stuff White People Like" parodies this here. :)"

I think Stuff-White-People-Likability is scarcely hipness. Quite the opposite.

BTW, the SWPL guy doesn't seem too familiar with WF. There half an aisle of fancy chocolate in that store. That's where to buy your chocolate if you want to believe that chocolate is a component of a healthy lifestyle.

Issob Morocco said...

It's the Kashi Good Friends, who meet every so often at aisle's end.

(or is it Isle's? ;-) )

Ann Althouse said...

Hi, Issob.

Issob Morocco said...

Hi Ann,

Hope you are well!

BTW, in the food world, La Jolla is the Center of the Universe, My Good Friends tell me so!

Issob Morocco said...

I would say if you want to see next gen hip in retail, go the the Cashton WI IGA. The rest are just poseurs.