Sunday, May 1, 2011

An apple a day

The Hy-Vee Drug Store in Marshalltown, Iowa,
home of $1.16 half gallons of apple juice.

  I’ve had no chess activities for the last 2 weekends and yesterday the kids were in Ames for the IT Olympics, so I had a nice relaxing day to hang out with Kathy and the beagle puppies. Around 1, I took her out for lunch and we went to visit the Goodwill and Salvation Army thrift stores, where Kathy found a Christmas candle to add to her collection and I got a Tom Landry biography, ‘God’s Coach’ by Skip Bayless. We also stopped at the Hy-Vee Drug Store.

  Hy-Vee is a popular supermarket in the Midwest and the Hy-Vee Drug Store is a sort of a branch of the supermarket, specializing in pharmacy items, but also having some groceries and houseware items. They also have a lot of sale merchandise. The store used to be called ‘Drug Town’, but some marketing expert realized it didn’t sound very good to be telling the kids you were going to ‘Drug Town’ or sending your kids to pick something up at ‘Drug Town’, so they changed the name.

  As we walked through the aisles, we found a lot of bargains. I got 10 of those 15 stick Wrigley gum packs for 44 cents each. Normally they cost at least a dollar. I chew a lot of gum at work and welcomed the discount. I also got a half gallon of Welch’s Grape Juice for $1.69 and the best deal of the day, a half-gallon of Country Fare Apple Juice for $1.16. I haven’t seen apple juice that low in years and it felt good to get some bargains after I filled my gas tank up with $3.79 a gallon gas this morning. I’ve noticed that when the prices of a supermarket item goes down, the amount you get for your money goes down further. Have you noticed that what used to be a half gallon of ice cream has become 1 and a half quarts? And many of the fruit juice bottles shrunk from a half gallon to 48 ounces, also. Even the Big Mac I ate on my way to Okoboji 2 weeks ago seemed more like a Small Mac to me.

If Michelle Obama really wants to stop childhood obesity,
she could start by making sales on Easter candy illegal.

  As Kathy and I continued walking up and down the aisle, we passed the produce and cold food section. There was a pound of Oscar Mayer Bologna for $1.49. I passed on that, but there were 3 small looking apples on a produce shelf with a sign reading “Fuji Apples - $1.00 each”. I was astounded. How could a half gallon of apple juice cost only 16 cents more than an apple?

  I was bothered by this question even after we finished shopping and got home. I didn’t have my camera with me on our afternoon trip, so around 8 last night, we went back to the Hy-Vee Drug Store, but all the apples were gone. I think someone bought them and Kathy thinks they were thrown out. I was going to ask a clerk, but they were already looking at me like I was some weirdo who was taking pictures of apple juice, gum, and bologna, so I decided not to press my luck. I may well be Marshalltown’s most prolific blogger, but I haven’t been stopped on the street for my autograph yet.

  Not being able to get any apples at the Hy-Vee Drug Store, I decided to stop at the mothership Hy-Vee supermarket on the way back to see if their apples were also a dollar. Kathy said if we were going in the store, I had to buy something because it looked too weird for us to just go into a store and take some pictures, so I decided I would buy an apple at the Hy-Vee.

Just some of the many apples for sale at the Hy-Vee supermarket.

  The Hy-Vee had at least 20 different kinds of apples and all were sold by the pound. Only the ‘Jazz’ apples at 99 cents a pound cost less than a dollar a pound. Some of the apples cost over $2 a pound. I picked the smallest Jazz apple I could find and made my way around to the register. On the way, I passed the same Wrigley gum packs that I saw at the Hy-Vee Drug store, but they were 99 cents and not 44 cents. I think it’s pretty rude that the gum at a Hy-Vee owned store would cost twice as much the same gum in a store owned by the same company not less than a mile away. Maybe people on the north side of town chew less gum.

What a difference a half a mile makes. The gum in the Hy-vee Drug Store costs 44 cents, while the same gum in the hy-Vee supermarket costs more than twice as much.

  When I got to the register, the clerk named Kelly weighed my apple and told me I owed her 95 cents. This looked like the old trick when the butcher would slap his thumb on the scale when weighing the meat. I said I didn’t think that the apple weighed a pound and asked her to weigh it again. She did and this time I gave her 36 cents for the apple and she will be forever in my thoughts as ‘Big-Thumb Kelly’. I took a picture of the checkout screen and I don’t think Kathy will be going with me on any more journalistic adventures for awhile. At least it wasn’t her birthday or Mother’s Day.

  I could have bought 3 of the cheapest apples or a half gallon of apple juice at a Hy-Vee owned store. The only ingredients in the apple juice were water and apple juice concentrate so it’s not like the juice was just a bunch of sugar water. Either there aren’t many apples that really go into the apple juice or they must be the nastiest apples ever. Maybe on my next shopping trip I’ll stick with the Bologna. At least I know what goes into that!

After dealing with 'Big-Thumb Kelly', here is the $1.16 apple juice and the 36 cent apple. Being able to charge $1.16 for the apple juice is the 8th wonder of the world.