Shopping Sociology with Earth Daddy and the Dinkies.

It is common procedure to open the fridge within my house within two days of raiding the the supermarket and discover that it is barer than John Malkovich’s scalp. Feed a teenager the entire contents of the cupboard, and within two hours he will be rubbing round your legs like a famished tomcat, wailing that he is starving. Buy him a packet of cereal and it disappears within two days. Teenagers appear to believe in the Kellogg’s equivalent of the magic porridge pot: why is the box incapable of renewing its own contents?

That’s how I found myself wheeling my trolley around Intermarché for the umpteenth time yesterday. As usual, I had the one with the squeaky wheel. As usual, I had forgotten my list on the kitchen table. And as usual, all my favourite categories of shopper were there.

Giant Shopping Basket Feb 2006

An ideal shopping trolley for MM’s family (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Show me the contents of your trolley, and I’ll tell you who you are. Here are a few of the species I met:

Earth Daddy. Earth Daddy is married to my nemesis, Wonder Woman, who is a regular victim of my ire and bad faith on this blog. As she spends her free time at Primary school meetings in the evening, making smarmy little asides to ensure everyone knows that she is on first name terms with the teacher, Earth Daddy does the shopping with his children. He trips enthusiastically down the aisles in his designer cotton clothes, filling his trolley with whole grains, granary bread, Ryvita and Scandinavian yoghurt that has never seen a pesticide, but has made a generous contribution to the hole in the ozone layer after travelling to the South of France by plane and truck. An appropriately sleeping baby is bandaged tastefully to his chest with so much naturally dyed swathing that he looks disturbingly like a child-friendly remake of “The Mummy”.

Baby’s big sister generally has a very tasteful name like Clementine or Prune. (Classy kids in France are apparently named after fruit. Maybe Gwyneth Paltrow is actually French; she called her kid Apple.) Clementine/Prune/Banana’s education doesn’t stop when they shop, as Earth Daddy believes in taking every opportunity to brainwash his child inform Clementine about the best possible choices in life. So he stopped at the chocolate shelf as Clementine enthusiastically pointed to a well-known brand of Swiss chocolate that we all know is made with milk from purple cows then wrapped in the aluminium foil by underpaid but happy marmots.

Milka in der Breiten Straße Potsdam

The purple cow meets a chocoholic fan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She enquired whether they could buy it, and Earth Daddy laughed indulgently. Scratching his designer stubble, he said that she could of course have some chocolate, but he was going to show her something better. I was curious, and tailgated my politically correct suspect and his cargo of organic bran like an off-beat Sherlock Holmes. Earth Daddy homed in on his destination, and beamed as he explained the concept of fair trade to his bemused offspring. I’m not sure she bought the idea, but he bought the chocolate anyway.

The stressed mother and her assortment of screaming kids are reassuringly normal.  They remind me of that family planning advert with the kid having a tantrum (check it out at the end of the post). Whilst a toddler with streams of yellow snot running down its face eats his way through a packet of biscuits in the seat of the trolley, a sibling imprisoned between the packets of pasta and disposable nappies tramples on the fresh fruit with one foot and hangs the rest of her body over the side, screaming “Muuum, want that, want thaaaat!” Stressed mother is haggard, determined and inches from sticking a price label on each kid’s forehead and leaving them on the discount shelf. 

Zero percent is generally female, appears depressed and is on a permanent guilt trip. Her relationship with food is borderline obsessive; she suspiciously reads every last letter of the packaging. She hunts down zero percent yoghurt, zero percent coke and beef that was no doubt gleaned from liposuctioned cattle on a health farm. Her trolley is so light you are surprised it doesn’t float up in the air before she gets to the till and disappear with her hanging on to it like Mary Poppins on helium.


Zero Percent on her way home with her stash of light food produce (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The alcoholic OAP wanders slowly to the wine shelf in espadrilles, sagging trousers, baggy jumper and a felt cap covered with dog hair. His trolley contains two five-litre plastic containers of red wine, two packs of goats cheese and two baguettes. He beams congenially at everyone when he forgets his credit card number twice in a row, then waves goodbye before using the trolley as an impromptu Zimmer frame. He probably won’t see another human being until he does the same shop in a week’s time.

The DINKIES (Dual Income, No KIddieS) are the ones who need a stepladder to access the expensive rare breed of imported Italian pasta on the top shelf whilst you are mining  for the last packet of supermarket brand macaroni in the murky depths of the bottom shelf. Miss DINKIE wrinkles her nose on seeing any of the above supermarket population categories, and goes into anaphylactic shock on contact with children. She can be observed at the toiletries dept, suspiciously sniffing at shampoo bottles whilst her bored boyfriend looks on.

The YFSM: Young, Free & Single MaleEasily identified by the contents of his basket: pizzas, chocolate, pasta sauce, pies, frozen chips and a pack of beer. Heart-wrenching examples are the cute ones who have packets of Petit Prince biscuits and M&M’s to eat in front of the TV. I generally avoid queuing beside a YFSM, as I get inexplicable pangs of jealousy at the idea of being able to not only have the remote for myself, but eat as much rubbish as I like without being told off.

There are more categories to be covered, such as the retired lovebirds, but this post is getting way too long. So I’ll pass the talking stick on to you: who are your favourite shoppers? Here is that advert I promised you, complete with an epic Earth Daddy fail.

19 thoughts on “Shopping Sociology with Earth Daddy and the Dinkies.

  1. What about the Mother of Teenage Boys with her trolley of catering packs of Knacki, giant size jars of Nutella, variety packs of crisps in a vain attempt to stop them eating too many at once, giant size boxes of cereal, litres and litres of milk, catering packs of loo rolls, and Lamborghini perfume? Oh, that’s me. 🙂

      • Yep, luckily my eldest has an excellent constitution and is quite sporty so it just disappears, into his legs, I think. He just had lunch of almost 3/4 of a 750g loaf I made yesterday, with 4 Knackis. When I remarked that the loaf had gone down quickly, he said it had been cut in a weird shape. Right. 🙂

      • We appear to have a similar brand of teen. Mine got home from the lycée and tucked into an omelette made with an entire packet of lardons, several handfuls of grated cheese and five eggs. As for the bread, it’s like the rest: it’s our fault.

  2. Nodding away at your cereal comment, having two teenage sons in the house I’m lucky if it lasts two days & I’m sure it’s just because that’s the easiest & quickest thing to ‘make’ to eat! The other favourite of theirs is to fry bacon & eggs, then I come home to fat splashes all over the cooker & a house that smells like a greasy cafe! 😦 Cracking up at the image of zero percent lifting off into the sky complete with trolley like ‘Mary Poppins on helium’! 😀

      • Glad you enjoyed it 🙂 Am typing this as Bigfoot makes himself an omelette (French equivalent of bacon and eggs that produces the same Hiroshima effect on the kitchen). He is muttering “Where did you find these nano-eggs?” Their size apparently means he needs five for a decent lunch…

      • Hahaha mine are exactly the same & for some reason I always seem to have a houseful of their friends… my fridge & cupboards frequently resemble a scene from a film with crazed swarms of locusts in that have recently passed by, feasted and moved on to overtake my lounge with lanky limbs protruding everywhere, making it an assault course of navigation! 🙂

    • The only builders I see wandering around our local supermarket are provençal guys covered in paint stains with their bums hanging out on one side and their belly on the other. The family who are not racist (is this English humour?) is another story….

    • Oh, dear…. the baked beans dilemma…. Surely there is something way more exciting to try in Turkey? They can leave the baked beans for when they get home…. funny how the boring traditional staples go up in grade when people are abroad!

  3. I think I might be a YFSM, if it’s possible to be one while married?!

    There are a lot of people in Italy who seem to buy just one or two things, but in ridiculously huge quantities. It’s not unusual to see a couple with two trollies, one entirely filled with bottled water and the other full with Milk. I wish my Italian was good enough to ask them what on earth they are up to…

  4. Well, there used to be me, heading for the reduced section on the dairy gondola to stock up on logs of goat cheese which were nowhere near ready to eat by the sell by date….

  5. I loved this, MM! 🙂 I reckon French shopper types aren’t so very different from their British equivalents, but I can’t imagine seeing that advert on British TV.

    Not sure if it counts as a shopper type, but I have a particular grudge against the people who turn up at the Fewer Than 10 Items checkout with an overflowing trolley and just won’t let me through with my two measly items. Grrr!

    • Thanks, Miss P – glad it made you smile! There are so many types I hadn’t thought of – yours is a prime example. It reminded me of that great error that brings out the pedant stickler in me: “less than 10 items”. It makes me want to pull out a pen, walk out of the shop and shame my kids to hell and back 🙂
      Once I got a cashier who sermoned me because I had eleven items. There was noone else at the till. I told her very politely what she could do with the eleven items if she didn’t wish to ring them up. She changed her mind 🙂

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