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Grocery shopping, or why I spend money on products I really don't need

CONFESSION: I am one of those people who really likes to go grocery shopping.

I enjoy strolling every aisle, crossreferencing sales to flyers for cheaper grocery stores, and comparing and examining nutritional information, so much that many people in my life refuse to go shopping with me because it just takes too long.

When they are brave enough to venture to the shops with me, they also find themselves bombarded with my commentary on packaging So much packaging on products is bland and unremarkable, which makes the truly good and shockingly bad stand out, so much so that I need to comment. Really, I do. I can't help myself.

This problem I have is exacerbated by high-end grocery stores, American grocery stores (with strange and wonderful products and brands I do not see often), and especially by high-end American grocery stores. Enter: Whole Foods.

I go to Whole Foods and leave with products I never would have bought at home, purely because the packaging draws me in. Yes, I know this is the point of packaging, but I feel like being in the business of packaging, I should maybe have a little more immunity to the powers of good design. Not so.


I am not a man, nor am I called Jack, but I find myself unable to walk past this brand in a store without picking it and being tempted to buy a matching set of shampoo and body wash. Sure, it smells good, but there's no way I would have discovered that fact if it wasn't for the off-centre caps, dark wood grain labels, clean type and colour palette and tidy use of periods.


Again, I have Whole Foods to thank for the clean and pretty twee labels on siggi's yogurt. There's something charming and Victorian about the little drawings of fruit. The serif typeface on the brand name and the slight curve make it a bit whimsical, but not in an over-the-top way, and the restraint with additional design elements and lots of white space keep everything looking tidy.


I avoid caffeine as much as I can, but the Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company almost had me with these Motor City-inspired designs. Matte black bags, and minimal illustrations of the Detroit skyline (not pictured is the nighttime version), as well as a historic map of the city tap into the cultural cache of Detroit, but without trying too hard. More clean text and a readable, simple logo with a bit of a vintage vibe makes this coffee more tempting than most.


Sure, these aren't from Whole Foods, but if I'm talking about the grocery store I can't leave out my recent attraction to the new(ish?) PC Black Label foods. PC is marketing their Black Label products by suggesting you "treat yourself to the finest flavours in the world." The eponymous black labels, along with a tall sans-serif in a selection of warm contrasting colours and black and white photos gives the collection a cohesive look (so cohesive that I almost bought three or four spices from this brand, just so they would match). In contrast to their Blue Menu, which is all about healthy eating, the Black Menu seems to project quality and a even little bit of indulgence.


More fun from PC, in the form of sponges. These little guys take my great passion for cleaning, and for keeping germs away from my food-preparation surfaces, and my love of clean design, and combine them into four convenient sponges. Sold.


This isn't a product, but I couldn't help snapping this shot of a "feminine hygiene products" disposal in the Whole Foods bathroom. Between the logo (that is a pretty strange shape that "clean woman" has going on, between her single pointy breast and tadpole body), the typeface (women like script fonts, right? Especially ones with curls at the ends!), the colour (hot pink? I'm shocked), and the copy itself (thanks for reminding me that by disposing of my feminine hygiene products properly, I am being "clean."), this one gets points on all fronts.

Watch this space for more design ramblings to come.

- Kate

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