Today people often take grocery stores for granted. Every week people visit the supermarket, walk up and down aisles selecting the things they need, and easily check out at the register. Should you be in the middle of cooking dinner and realize there is a missing ingredient, simply hop in the car and drive to the nearest grocery store to pick it up. We often forget that the convenience of grocery stores has not always existed and even grumble about having to go grocery shopping.
The truth of the matter is that grocery shopping in nice, large, air-conditioned supermarkets is considerably easier than running one’s own farm, growing one’s own crops, and slaughtering one’s own animals. But that is how early Americans got their groceries.
Grocery stores didn’t take off until the advent of the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company in 1859. They started out as small general stores that sold canned foods and other non-perishable goods. Chain stores were not popular until the 1920s but still did not carry items like meat or produce. It was not until 1930 that Michael Cullen opened King Kullen store, considered to be the first supermarket in America. Products were sold directly out of their packaging and very little attention was placed on décor or presentation.
The 1950s and 1960s are considered to be the golden age of grocery stores. It was during this time that stores began to develop more into the kinds of supermarkets we are used to. Today grocery stores offer clean, organized facilities, food departments, color codes, and even self-checkout.
Grocery stores are still changing because most of them now allow printable coupons to be used in their stores. And some deliver to your home, and allow Internet ordering, as well, so they’ll continue to expand and change in the future as our needs and shopping choices change, too.
The next time you feel like complaining, do not take for granted the prepackaged, individually wrapped, and fresh produce we acquire with such ease. Even if you must go grocery shopping after a long hard day at work, remember that it still beats milking cows, tilling dirt, or bringing in a harvest.