Prell & Ralston

Today’s post is from Verily Sherrilee

I’m not much of a shopper and I’m pretty sure if there is a shopping gene, then mine is either deficient or non-existent. My favorite places to shop are either strip malls (park in front of store, go in store, buy item, leave store, drive away) or a place like Target, where you can park once and purchase an umbrella, a tank top, vegetarian sausages and aspirin all in the same place. I’m also “frugal” and a lower price point almost always appeals to me.

So I think it’s interesting that there are a few products that I am loyal to, going out of my way to find them or spending more to have them (or both).

Ralston

I grew up in St. Louis where Ralston Purina products proliferate. As a child Ralston Hot Cereal, which is a whole wheat cereal, was a cold weather staple at my house. My mother served it with butter and brown sugar, which is how I still like it.  When I moved to the Twin Cities you could still find Ralston in the cereal aisle, but eventually it faded out of the market.  For several years my mother would buy it at her local grocery store and ship it to me. When her grocery stopped carrying it, I called Ralston and they sent me to a couple of online sources, which is where I still buy it today, even though it’s more expensive than picking up something at the store. It’s not significantly different from a few other whole wheat hot cereals, but there’s just something about it that makes it special to me.

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The other product I stubbornly cling to is Prell Shampoo. I can still remember the old Prell commercials with the pearl sinking slowly through the green shampoo. Prell smells great to me and even though I know in my brain that more suds don’t actually make my hair cleaner, I LOVE the suds. Not too many places carry Prell anymore so I find myself making a separate trip to Walgreens to buy my shampoo.

I’m guessing that some of my loyalty to these brands is the positive memories that they invoke from my childhood. Or we could go with the simpler “I just like what I like”.

What product are you loyal to, no matter what?

140 thoughts on “Prell & Ralston”

  1. lipton tea. i have taste that tends towards the uppity side in many instances but when it comes to my tea i am lucky liptons is the one i choose. i as sad to discover that both sams and costco discontinued the 300 pack i was accustomed to buying but the more expensive prices offered at regular spots for 100 packs is still an expense i can justify. i will try a generic brand at a buffet or a hotel and it is amazing how awful a product an be when it is being purchased because it is cheaper. wouldnt you think someone would figure out that given the opportunity to become your choice the makers of other labels would try to produce something other than the cheapest crap that can go in a container?

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    1. i find it amazing that i dont car about brands at all as i buzz through the buying choices i make. i am past a lot of the preference stuff i used to go for back when i smoked and drank the choices were sincere. marlboro was my brand. no other choice would do, the wine at trader joes was my wine of choice but i dont drink soda and if i drink bubbke water it is whatever the shelf holds that gets my attention. lemon water over orange water but really flavored water is not even needed, bubbles are a plus but water and lipton would get me through the day. birkies get my vote along with born and simple shoes but i buy all my stuff like that online or at goodwill and it is usually used. borsalino, stetson resistol are the hatmakers of choice but i wilud never be able to afford the retail prices today and a bmw motorycle is always going to win my heart. i realy should get the old vw van and keep an extra to allow me to have it and parts available for the travel soul smiling. today i think ill buy a

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    2. Lipton and Nestle seem to own Egypt. During a Smithsonian trip to Egypt with my ex, I was surprised that almost all tea and as many products as possible are from those two. For all of the billboards for Starbucks, over there it’s Lipton. And every meal had at least a few things on the table from Nestle. And KFC is extremely popular too.

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  2. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    When my High School Girlfriends and I gather, we still eat a candy bar that we ate when we were in Jr. High and High School: Bing Candy Bars. This is a combo of cherry pink middle covered in a mixture of chocolate and nuts.

    These are now difficult to find and only a regional “delicacy.” We used to sit around the lunch table munching on these after our school lunch. Our friend Ruth, is known to get us together and pull six of these out of here purse.

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  3. Which ever product sponsor’s Jimmy Johnson’s number 48 in NASCAR. That means Lowes over Home Depot. Fortunately, when considering location, price and product selection, it becomes a distinction without a difference.

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    1. i was in a group that was connected with walmart and sams club in sourcing new products to promote. i was amazed to learn that nascar is the number 1 catagory for fan stuff. lots of people follow nascar. go figure. are you a fan wessew?

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  4. Now & then I like to buy a Betty Crocker blueberry muffin mix. That’s my equivalent of the Ralston cereal, often on the breakfast table when I was a wee girl. I like opening that little can of blueberries.

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  5. Vernors ginger ale. I haven’t drunk any Vernor for many years because I haven’t seen it for sale. If I could get it I would prefer it over other kinds of ginger ale and other kinds of soda pop. I think it is still available. I haven’t made a big effort too get it. If I see it I would buy it.

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    1. Pretty sure Kowalski’s has Vernor’s. I know I have bought it there (though they turn over product frequently, so it could have been bumped off the shelves by some artisanal local soda).

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  6. My brand loyalty, if any, is thin; one or two bad experiences and I’m out. I think brand loyalty is largely a one-way relationship. The brand owners don’t ultimately value the integrity of their product. Most successful products degrade over time as the bean counters press for economies in manufacture to increase profitability.

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  7. Coleman’s Mustard powder in that little yellow tin with red lettering; simply the best. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce in the bottle that comes wrapped in paper, a staple in our home since I was a little girl. Same thing with HP Sauce. It stands for Houses of Parliament in most households, but not in ours. In our house it stood for Hans Pedersen, my dad’s name.

    I like spice, and Tabasco sauce has always been my go-to hot sauce. But who says you can have only one kind in the fridge? I’m finding that some of the small local producers of hot sauce make some great tasting, heat-packed condiments. If you love spice as much as I do, you’ll have quite the collection of condiments and sauces in the fridge. Sriracha hot chili sauce is also a must.

    I’m a fussy tea drinker. Tea has to be properly brewed – sorry Bill and tim – teabags don’t do it for me; it must be a good quality loose tea. I particularly like Darjeeling and Earl Grey – not in a particular brand, but a good fragrant leaf. Whenever Pete Morton, an Englishman, stays at our house and peruses the assortment of teas I have, he’s been known to proclaim that flavored teas, including Earl Grey, are an abomination. He prefers PG Tips. Of course, he also puts milk in it!

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    1. i guess in addition to liptons i too buy bulk tea. i buy davidsons bulk tea on amazon for 15 dollars a lb and its great. i have earl gray, english breakfast and ceylon on a continual basis and chamomile for one of my kids but i pick chamomile off the gorund when i see it so i dont need to buy much. a years supply can be had from many spots fund during the summer

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      1. You’d be surprised, Steve, how many things I keep in the fridge that don’t really need to be kept chilled. I simply find it the most convenient place to store them.

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        1. i just had an expanding bottle of salsa not put in the fridge turn vile. better to be safe than sorry. i always keep my salsa in the fridge but my family doesnt
          on the other hand i learned years ago butter and eggs dont need refridgerator

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  8. Ralston is not a cereal I would choose to eat…ever again. Growing up we ALWAYS had hot cereal for breakfast before school…and it most often was Ralston. That is what my dad liked and that is how our meals were determined.. Unfortunately…it was more often than not, runny, making it even less palatable to me. Oatmeal was the height of disgust as a morning cereal though we did not have that very often. However, I will always remember…now fondly…a family vacation camping at the Grand Canyon. My dad made oatmeal for our breakfast…a mortal vacation sin!

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    1. My life hasn’t included much oatmeal, but during my hippie days I embraced a product that was enormously appealing because it was so old fashioned. Red River cereal was (and is) radically basic, containing nothing but wheat, rye and flax seeds. You should not eat it unless you are sure that you will have access to a toilet later in the day. Red River is the oatmeal equivalent of Powdermilk Biscuits.

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    2. Funny how sometimes childhood things cause loyalty and sometimes they cause anti-loyalty. I’ll probably never eat a lima bean of my own free will again in my life. My dad liked them so we had the regularly – boiled, out of a can. The only way I could get them down was with ketchup. Ick.

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        1. i got to talk to a big dog at general mills last night and brought up my kids cheerios comment and discovered the formula has not changed just the handling of the oats for the certified gluten free classification so my kid can eat them again wheww

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  9. My difficut-to-find but cherished cereal is Wheatena. I look for it whenever I pass a cereal aisle but it is almost never there. They have it on the east coast so I came home with 3 boxes the last time I visited my sister. Unlike Ralston (I imagine, as I have never had it), there is no other cereal that is like it.
    I don’t eat it straight up; I do a half and half mixture with oatmeal. I have making it in the microwave down to a science. In a bigger than average cereal bowl, 1 1/2 minutes on high and 2 1/2 minutes on level 4. It starts to think about boiling over at the end of the high period but just stops short once the level has gone down.

    Other than that, I can’t think of other loyalties. Hellmans would be one except that I have found a lower calorie mayo with olive oil from Kraft (of all things).

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    1. I don’t shop at Walmart, Lisa, so I can’t attest to the accuracy of this information, but a quick on-line search for Wheatena informs me that Walmart carries it.

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  10. I was oblivious to brand loyalty until the day I figured out that my college girlfriend was secretly proud of using Vademecum toothpaste. It was the toothpaste approved by Swedish royalty, after all. Then I detected my girlfriend felt slightly smug about owning an Olympia typewriter. That woke me up to the whole issue of brand loyalty.

    It used to amuse me that my last girlfriend secretly felt smug about being an Apple sort of girl, not a Windows sort of girl. She would never have said so, but I strongly suspect that she divided the world into clueless Windows folks and clever Apple folks. Life was more expensive for Apple people, but at least they had the taste to appreciate elegant, superior products.

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  11. It’s apparent that there are people who derive some substantial portion of their sense of identity from their brand loyalties. Why else would you see ford pickup trucks with decals of Calvin peeing on a Chevy logo and Chevy trucks with Calvin peeing on Ford? I can’t imagine feeling that strongly about my choice of vehicle or believing that it said anything about me.
    But then, I’m mystified by the loyalty people express towards sports teams and their compulsion to wear ersatz sports uniforms and paraphernalia.

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    1. People have a strong need to project an identity. In a consumption-based society it seems inevitable that some folks–many folks, actually–base their identities on product allegiance. I used to participate in a blog site devoted to cars and another blog site devoted to digital cameras. It was shocking to see how fiercely partisan people could be about their cars or cameras. When you’ve seen how passionately a Sony fanboy can hate owners of Canon cameras, you can’t be surprised at the ferocity of partisans of presidential candidates.

      Loyalty to sports teams is the same phenomenon taken to a higher level. Some people identify with the Pittsburgh Steelers as fiercely as people used to identify with the church they attended. I try to enjoy my sports team without confusing it with ideas of who I am. Most folks don’t even try.

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        1. Many, many years ago when the Vikes were on a winning streak, I gave my daughter tickets for a game for her birthday. I bought enough for all of us. I’d never watched football in my life but I wanted to join in the fun. Mary insisted that I don a full costume for the event, so I wore a purple afro wig, face paint, and purple and gold boa feathers.

          The moment I walked into the Dome, the air was electric and booming with excitement. Everyone screamed and jumped up waving their arms each time the Vikes got a first down. When they got a touchdown, the whole place went utterly crazy!! They did this strange crowd thing called the “wave” and stomped their feet on the bleacher floor to make a drumming sound. They chanted these strange chants and sang a song I’d never heard. Most shockingly, they BOOED at the other team!!! It appalled me that people were so rude.

          I had no clue what the plays, yelling, and rude behavior was all about and kept asking the kids, “What does that mean?” or “What just happened?”

          The entire experience swept me away with over the top excitement and enthusiasm. I wanted more, so when I got home, I promptly ordered season tickets for a lot of money. It turned out to be a real hassle finding people to take the seats, especially when the Vikes began to lose games, but dressing up in Vike gear with my daughter and being able to scream made it worth it anyway.

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    2. When I was a child, all us boys were Ford kids or Chevy kids. Based on what our fathers had of course. The word Chevy still gives me a boost of nostalgia, but only owned one as an adult. My current car brand is going of of business.

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      1. I recall a comment made on here several years ago by Ben, about loyalty to tractor brands. International Harvester vis-a-vis John Deere. As I recall, his preferred brand is not the one carried by a local dealer with whom he’d like to do business. In the case of tractor brands, I seem to recall that you choice signals your political leanings.

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        1. I was a Chevy child and a Ford adult. The adult choice was driven by the dealers. The Chevy dealer was a crook. Went to jail eventually for double financing. I want to hear Ben’s answer re tractor brands and political leaning. did not know that. I am sol old in my childhood lots of tractor brands were around that are now gone, like Mpls. Moline.

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        2. I was going to talk about John Deere. Glad PJ remembered that. Never let it be said you let facts stand in the way of a good story!

          I have not noticed politics in regard to tractor color… other than the stereotypical farmer listens to way more Country Western music than I do.

          I may have written before that my Dad was all set to buy his first tractor; a Farmall. (This is probably late 1940’s) and the dealer sold the tractor out from under Dad. And he was so mad he went and bought a John Deere. And that’s why we’re a John Deere family now…
          The first tractor I bought was a Deutz. Still green, just a different shade of green.

          JD paint is expensive, but it really does hold a resale value.
          Except maybe for the John Deere 400 snowmobile that’s been back behind the shed for about 30 years…

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    3. i love ging the other way and finding odd things to put on t shirts and hats. closed mondays t shirts gets you a correct response from those intended to reach..
      my kid got in trouble she reminds me the day sent her to school wearing a shakespeare t shirt (first thing lets do is kill all the lawyers) whippets baseball cap. bob dylan t shirt, that kind of thing. my twins t shirt is a jones t shirt frm when jaques jones played with torii and shannon stewart in 03 or 04.

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  12. Before we had a dish washer we always used Ivory liquid dish washing soap. We still buy it to use for washing out a few things by hand. I have no reason for preferring Ivory. We have always used it and I saw no reason to use any other kind of dish washing soap.

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  13. Sandy is the brand buyer on everything. I go for the store brand products. When we first got married 51 years ago, the joke became to go Daytons and go to the purse section. Hundreds of purses on shelves, no prices showing. She could pick out the most expensive one in 1-3 tries. She wanted it, but we did not buy it. College days then.
    Sandy and brand loyalty extends to her drugs. For three of her drugs (she had 27 prescriptions last year counting short term ones–just did the tax prep for our “son” the accountant to do) her body does not respond well to the $4 versions. Two give her a back reaction; one has diminished results. Health insurance only pays for the generic. Appeals denied. One costs $575 every three months. One costs $173 month and the other costs. $114 a month. She has three other drugs that do not have a generic form.
    Hated all hot cereals as a kid and now, Ralston and otherwise.
    Tea: play around. Do not like Lipton but do like Red Rose, the Canadian long-time store counter tea. I used to love to go to Tea Source and bring home about six kinds of teas. I do not like flavored teas, except Earl Gray with its bergamot in it. But somehow tasted and fell in love with 500 Mile Chai from the Tao of Tea.
    Coffee: used to drink whatever. Gave it up for a dozen years for tea. Then drifted back into it. Now developed a decent set of taste buds for coffee. I usually have about six types on hand. A small pot of coffee before Sandy gets up is my daily treat. Do not like dark or “thick” coffees. Like Trader Joe’s basic coffee and the Smooth, if that’s what it is called, no container on hand. We do not get up to the Cities these days. Sandy does not dare travel too far right now. Hate Starbuck’s but my son introduced me to their Veranda blond coffee, which I have by me right now. Cub has it on sale routinely for $6.99 for 12 ounces, up to four bags at a time. Still higher than any Folgers but, there I am. Used to go out to coffee places, especially a local downtown sagging-old-furniture, delightfully-mixed-clients coffee house.
    My guilty-pleasure in coffee: I like the McDonalds coffees sold in stores, which are not quite the same as in the restaurants. They are not all that cheap, except they are on sale often, too. Sandy has a strange brand loyalty here. Right now she gets sudden attacks of ulcerative colitis, if you get my meaning. The one thing to eat that never makes her sick and soothes her digestive after a very bad attack, is McDonalds. I cannot eat their food anymore. Too many trips. So I am well-acquainted with their coffee or their water.
    OT: Now connected at home again via this limping computer and Ipad.

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      1. Last year, my oncologist prescribed an old fashioned antibiotic, Erythromycin, to stimulate my appetite. I’d been on it in the hospital and it seemed to work well. Since my weight had dropped 40#, we were alarmed. I called my drug policy people and was told that a bottle of 90 tabs would cost $1500. I then called a Canadian pharmacy. Their cost for 100 tabs was $45. This wasn’t a new cadillac drug. It’d been on the market for 30 years.

        Only in America. Literally.

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  14. At one time my favorite beer was Pabst Blue Ribbon. I still like it although there are now a number of craft beers and importer beers that I prefer. I couldn’t believe that Budwieser was being widely advertised in England when we visited there a number of years ago. Why would anyone drink Budweiser in a country that has some of the world’s best beer?

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    1. Mt partner and I when we traveled would seek out locally brewed dark beers, one of the few local products left. It was fun. Now I am on three drugs that do not in my body mix well with alcohol.

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    2. A Brand Rant: you see a product on the shelf in your grocery store. Yep that’s it. You grab it, buy it, bring it home and open it to find out it
      s some new spin on the product, such as a new flavor, but that fact appears in small print you barely notice.

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  15. My folks were loyal Chevy buyers for years while I was growing up. Later they switched to Olds. I have tried to be loyal to Saturn but, alas, they no longer exist (thank you GM – not!). I have hung on to my Ion for 10 years now – not sure what I will eventually change to.

    Food wise, I am still loyal to Skippy creamy peanut butter even though I know it is loaded with sugar. Love it on toast, occasionally with bananas on toast.

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    1. Cars used to be the ultimate way of expressing one’s identity. My grandfather drove an Oldsmobile, a careful choice to show he was not “just” a Chevy guy but also not as pretentious as a Buick guy (lawyers bought those). This all got confused when imports began flooding the auto market.

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    2. I was a Saturn gal was well. Just sold my 12-year old Ion this past summer. It was the purchasing experience that made me a fan. No writing numbers on post-it notes, no checking w/ the manager. I was very sad when GM made them go away.

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  16. Seattle is known for coffee. Portland should be known for locally brewed beer. An article in the paper last week noted that 10 new microbreweries had recently popped up. I looked it up and learned we already had over a hundred microbreweries. Apparently there are no limits on this phenomenon.

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  17. I’ve been trying to figure out if I have any brand loyalty and can’t think of much. When I’m loyal to a certain brand, it’s usually because I tried it and it was a combination of not too expensive and good enough quality. Then I am loyal to that brand – because it makes shopping easier if I know what kind of stuff I want – although when that brand is gone or the store doesn’t carry it anymore, then I have the fun of standing in the aisle trying to figure out what brand of toothpaste or whatever I should get. But there are a few things I like

    Shampoo – I use SunLeaf Clary Sage Lavender shampoo bar. I bought this for a trip, and liked how I could use one bar of soap from head to foot and not have various bottles of stuff all over the bathtub so I use it all the time now.

    Tea – Stash Tea, esp. the double chai.

    Vegetables and Fruit – homegrown or farmers’ market. Apples must be exceedingly crisp for eating out of hand.

    Emergen-C: I tried the Target brand of this once and could barely stand to drink it. Yuck!

    Gelato – Trader Joe’s Salted Caramel Gelato, but OF COURSE TJs doesn’t carry it any more.

    Ice Cream – Izzy’s.

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  18. Store brands are usually fine with me. My pantry is usually full of stuff labeled “Our Family” or “Essential Everyday” or “Hy-Vee” or “Market Pantry”. I don’t perceive much, if any, difference between the name brand and the store brand.

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  19. I didn’t reply yesterday, since I couldn’t think of any brand loyalties I have–I’m always looking for products that are vegan or not tested on animals, and when you’re dealing mainly with small natural-products companies there’s never any guarantee you’re going to find that great thing you bought two months ago, ever again.

    However, I did realize I stick with a couple of brands. One is Lee jeans–during the interminable low-rise fad several years ago, they were the only company still making black jeans that fit me–and the other is Marvel comics/movies. I know it’s heresy, but I really did not like the Dark Knight films. OTOH, I always find something to enjoy about the Marvel movies (even if it’s just seeing Merle from The Walking Dead as a blue alien pirate in Guardians of the Galaxy!).

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    1. Mostly HyVee. But sometimes Target… fruit is almost always from one of the coops. We have two (or maybe 3??) ‘good food’ stores in town now.
      One place has been around for years and one just opened. If there is a third I haven’t been there.

      Speaking of brand loyalty, sweetcorn should never be purchased from the supermarket, but from one of the local growers. We always buy from Sekapps Orchard.
      I’m even hesitant to buy from the trucks that start selling in June. ‘That corn isn’t from here…’

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      1. YES about the corn.

        And once you start buying from farmers markets or have a CSA (or are lucky enough to be able to grow a lot of veggies yourself), that’s true of a lot of produce. Asparagus, for sure. I like it roasted until it’s partly blackened and the tips are crisp. Mmmmmm.

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      2. There is a corn truck in Cumberland in late July and August called “Bob’s Corn”. The best! I stop by every time I visit my friend’s cabin in the summer.

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  20. I hop around a bit. I am now a member of 3 co-ops. Started with Linden Hills but didn’t shop there much because it’s expensive and not really close. Then Lakewinds opened a new store in Richfield and, yay, it was closer. Then Seward opened its new Friendship store only 11 blocks away and I joined there, too. I shop there quite a bit but make other trips to Cub, Kowalskis and the other co-ops.
    I happened to make the same recipe twice in a short time and bought cauliflower and cashews from Lakewinds and Seward and the prices were dramatically cheaper at the latter. Sometime I’d like to make a comparison of a few things on the same day. I wonder if the dramatic price differences were due to some supply shortage situation a couple of days apart that I would have found at both.

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    1. I belong to three co-ops, too, from moving around – now I just shop at whichever one I’m closest to when running around, since there isn’t one close. Hmmm, there was supposed to be a new one opening at over on N. Penn, I should check…

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  21. Cub. Only two choices here, Cub and Hy-Vee. Cub is a mile away, has an excellent pharmacy. We use the fuel card. With our drugs on it, we save some moneyy that way. Last tank of gas cost me $5.11. Small tank (Scion) and 90 cents off of 1.54.

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  22. My favorite stores are TJ’s in Mahtowa (do stop there sometime on your way north, well worth the experience…or, if you are on the bike trail, it’s a great stop) and the Cloquet Natural Foods Store…but I also have to hit the big time at Super One in Cloquet and Marketplace in Moose Lake. The Duluth co-op is opening a store in west Duluth that will be convenient if I ever get that far from home.

    Missed the favorite brands discussion, because like others, I couldn’t think of any brand loyalty at this time. Oh…yes, Ghiradelli semi-sweet and Lindt Dark Intense Orange chocolates. Otherwise read labels and ingredients before buying. Oh, just thought of HaagenDaaz (especially coffee and pineapple-coconut) and Ben & Jerry’s (Cherry Garcia) ice creams.

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      1. No, it’s a little old fashioned grocery store…oh, and now he has liquor as well. Hard wood floors, but no pot bellied stove. TJ stands for Tom & Joanne, the owners. They make their own brats…’the best wurst in town” that have a certain claim to fame. many varieties. they host at least one event a month for the community that bring in folks from the area…and even some from the big cities!

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        1. Ooh, we used to live a block away from Tushner’s in Winona (no longer there, I’m afraid) that had their own little meat market in back. Glad yours is still there.

          Tom & Joanne’s sounds more like it – only place I’ve seen a smallish town Trader Joe’s was wine country California.

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  23. During the Farmer’s Market season I buy almost everything there. You just can’t beat the freshness of everything. I find that it’s not inexpensive to shop at the Farmer’s Market, but for quality and taste, you can’t beat it.

    During the rest of the year, I find Aldi consistently lowest on a lot of the basics. We’re members of the Mississippi Market co-op and Costco. The Mississippi Market has wonderful produce and a great selection of cheeses, but they’re awfully expensive. Meat I buy at Mike’s Butcher shop. Hmong Town and another Asian market, Shuang Hur, are my go-to sources for all kinds of ingredients needed in Asian cooking, including exotic mushrooms, ginger root, lemon grass, bean sprouts, fresh mint, various Asian greens and watercress. I love shopping in both of those two places. Not only do they have a greater selection, they are are far cheaper than their western supermarket counterparts. Can you tell I’m retired and that shopping for food is a high priority for me?

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  24. OT – Nelle Harper Lee has died. In a statement, Lee’s family said, “The family of Nelle Harper Lee, of Monroeville, Alabama, announced today, with great sadness, that Ms. Lee passed away in her sleep early this morning. Her passing was unexpected. She remained in good basic health until her passing. The family is in mourning and there will be a private funeral service in the upcoming days, as she had requested.”

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  25. Everyone seems to agree that the co-ops are expensive, but why do you think that is and shouldn’t a major part of the co-op’s mission be to make good quality food available to as many people as possible? I’m a member at Seward Co-op and buy there regularly but very selectively. The produce is high quality and much of it is locally grown and I’m willing to pay higher prices where I get significantly better product in return. But at the co-op virtually everything— even canned and boxed goods are twice or triple the price of comparable products elsewhere.
    I have heard the argument that the co-op provides benefits and a living wage to its employees, but so does Trader Joe’s and TJ’s products are generally competitively priced.
    I’ve been around since the beginning of the co-ops, when a limited number of products like rice and dried beans were sold in bulk out of someone’s house on the West Bank. I remember when a membership required each member to volunteer a few hours a month. I remember when the co-ops were really inexpensive, though limited.
    These days when I shop at the co-op, it all seems imbued with a doctrinaire attitude, as if they are so virtuous, they don’t even have to try to be competitive. As if, should you complain about prices completely out of scale with everywhere else, it would be a smirch on your character.

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    1. Remember the old Northcountry Co-op on Cedar Riverside? Talk about organic! Still in its fledgling stage when I discovered it in 1974, it was a far cry from what co-ops have evolved into today. The MIssissippi Market now has three beautiful stores, and I think they do a terrific job, but it’s not where I’m going to buy toilet paper.

      I’ll have to make a point to visit TJ’s next time we drive by Mahtowa.

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      1. Before the North Country Co-op, the bulk foods were dispensed out of a former church building nearby on Riverside. Some of the bulk items would have made Costco look like pikers. I remember that Robin and I once bought 5 gallons of honey in a big square metal can. It took us years to get through that. I’m surprised we aren’t still chipping away at it. I’m sure we got a good price on it, though.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Husband and I have both worked at co-ops – he helped start one up (Winona), with the scenario you mention, Bill – bins of dried beans in someone’s garage, a scale to weigh out your purchases and a cigar box for the money – honor system. Then came a store front…

      Most of he food co-ops started because people wanted cheap, healthy food. It shifted over the years because: not only did co-op works want a “living wage”; we went from customer volunteers and collective management (I remember trying to make decisions by CONSENSUS with 22 store coordinators in 1979) to regular management with no volunteers. And at first there was, i.e., no bulk sugar allowed, but there was a demand, so then it was allowed, but it had to be organic. Well, organic sugar was less plentiful, and therefore more expensive than standard sugar… You get the idea.

      Now so many other factors have come into play, the co-ops are unrecognizable compared to how they started out. It’s been a gradual process…

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      1. It is amazing to walk through co-ops these days. My first co-op experience was a buying club in Northfield. Every month the “head” of the club would have big bags of oats, beans, flour, etc. delivered and we would all come with our big jars or bins and we would divvy everything up.

        I volunteered at co-ops up until Child came along then it was too expensive to get a babysitter in order to work at the co-op. Do the big co-ops even let folks volunteer any more?

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        1. the co op on Raymond between university and energy park is the old fashion you can volunteer and fill your own peanut butter kind of joint

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    1. I liked it. I was prepared not to, so pleasantly surprised. The best way to look at is to view Mockingbird as a child’s view of her childhood and father and Watchman is more an adult’s view of that life and father.

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    2. I have not read it yet, but I feel as if I’ve been gearing up for it, having just finished (VS avert your eyes) Paul Theroux’s “Deep South” and V. S. Naipaul’s “A Turn in the South”.

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    1. I remember a sales technique to find people to call where you would throw a rock up in the air and when it comes down the next person you see is the first person after the rock
      sometimes that’s how you need to write too
      you’re theorist thought I had after the rock
      you’ve noticed thataboutmy writing style right?

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  26. I got a Costco membership last summer and now we do most of our food shopping there and at Trader Joe’s. It’s not far from Costco, so we hit both of those stores in the same trip. Big advantage of Costco: you can fit two 2-year-old boys in the cart seat! I’m also 5 blocks from an Aldi, which is also across the street from my local library, so a walk to the library often includes a stop for a few things there. I sometimes go to the co-op, but it’s pricey for a lot of things. Like Bill, I remember the days when things cost less there. Remember when buying spices and dried herbs cost just a few cents? Those were the days.

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        1. Yeah, but I’m thinking that the difference between co-op prices and regular grocery store prices (with the co-op being cheaper) was a bigger difference then. Now, I go to the co-op to get good food, not to get a good deal.

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        2. what is nickle candie bars, bottle of pop
          gallon of gas
          my first car was after the van was a Buick Rivera 1973 for 2500 bucks
          a new rabbit was 2900 that year (75) shoes were 10,house payment 250

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  27. At my stage of life, grocery shopping is highly related to convenience. Since walking is painful, I need a store with handicapped parking nearby and a layout that permits me to get around. My medical conditions also dictate a store that has a broad product offering. I became accustomed to finding certain specialty products at Lunds, my store for four decades. I have not found its equal here. In short, I haven’t found here the store that suits my needs as well as Lunds did in Saint Paul. But it sure is nice having inexpensive wine in grocery stores.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. The new Seward was controversial because, although there was something of a “food desert” where it ended up, the community wanted accessible prices and a high rate of employment by people from the community (particularly people of color). I do notice some non-organic and more commercial items on the shelves and the staff is quite diverse but I rarely see POC shopping.
    Other friends say they see a diverse mix of customers; I don’t know why our observations have been so different.

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  29. I shop at a lot of different places. It would be nice if one single store could be all things, but it doesn’t seem to work that way. I like Oxendale’s; it’s my neighborhood store. Most of my day-to-day purchases are made there. But I also have a Mississippi Market membership – I like the Rustica french bread they carry, and some of the produce and bulk items. You can buy yeast in bulk there. A nice option when you don’t use a lot of it, just a teaspoon or two at a time. Trader Joe’s has the best prices in town on cheese, excellent sharp cheddar for $4.99 a pound. Their bagged salads and cherry/grape tomatoes are good too, and very reasonable. I fill prescriptions at Target, so I often pick up some things there, including pet food. Whole Foods has their 365 brand pop, made with cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Cub has good produce and the prices are always low. Lund’s is pricey, but has a couple of things I don’t usually find elsewhere, including Guittard chocolate chips (Cub used to carry them but discontinued them). Hy-Vee is kinda like Lund’s but not so expensive, and they are the undisputed king of the bulk bins. They have everything in bulk bins.

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