This Is What Food Shopping Looked Like 100 Years Ago
Some food trends might come and go, but food shopping remains a necessary chore. Here’s what the experience was like as far back as 100 years ago.
Breakfast of champions
Courtesy Rosie Minatel Eagen/Reminisce
“In the early 1940s, while in high school, I was a cashier at the Atlas Supermarket in Indianapolis, Indiana,” says Rosie Minatel Eagen (left) of Beech Grove, Indiana, “It was during World War II when lots of items were rationed, but not Wheaties. The woman in the center is Mr. Max Atlas, wife of the owner. The other girl is another cashier.”
Courtesy Mary Atha/Reminisce
Mary Atha, of Battle Lake, Minnesota, was asked by a Folger’s Coffee salesman to pose with his display in a grocery store in Chariton, Iowa, in 1939. “The coffee was quite a bargain at two pounds for 57 cents. The store was a small neighborhood grocery with a meat counter at the back. I remember my folks ran up a monthly tab, as most people did back then.” Things have changed since then since today you don’t even have to leave home to rack up your grocery bill. Reclaim your weekends with these 13 things you need to know before grocery shopping online.
Times have changed
Courtesy Alvira Nelson/Reminisce
This photo, shared by Alvira Nelson of Frankfort, Illinois, shows a National Tea Co. store in Chicago in the 1930s. Compare it to a modern grocery store where one aisle probably equals the entire inventory of a 1930s store.
Saving for school
Courtesy John Schuiling/Reminisce
“I earned 35 cents an hour when I worked at this Kroger store in Holland, Michigan,” says John Schuiling of Grand Haven, Michigan. “This put me through Hope College, where I graduated in 1931. I’m second from the left in the 1930 photograph. I worked from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 14 hours on Saturdays. I also worked each lunch hour during high school and college so the manager could run errands.” Although grocery shopping has changed, these are still the 13 things you should always buy from Kroger.
Courtesy Peter Ferrara/Reminisce
“That’s me (in the light-colored jacket) being congratulated upon winning a divisional contest within the A&P stores in 1963,” writes Peter Ferrara of Toms River, New Jersey. “My wife and I had dinner in New York, a night at the Waldorf-Astoria, and an 8-day trip to Bermuda. If you look at the window signs, you’ll see some good 1963 meat prices.”
Courtesy Eleanor Soukup Bara/Reminisce
“When I was 16, back in 1942, I got my first job—as a cashier at Woolworth’s store in Chicago,” says Eleanor Soukup Bara of Palos Hills, Illinois. “In the picture, I’m in the back row behind the manager’s left shoulder.”
Courtesy Anne Stanbrook/Reminisce
“Borrowing $700 from her father around 1936, after going through a divorce, my mother opened a grocery store in the Rosedale Park neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan. It was called the Rosedale Fenkell Market. That’s mom, above left, with her sister Olga Brunette. Mom got help from Olga, along with my younger brother, Nicky, and me, ages 10 and 12. With the four of us working, we built up the business, and the store did well in the affluent area,” says Anne Stanbrook of San Clement, California. Their grocery store is not equal to a supermarket, because there is a difference between the two.
Fresh is best
Courtesy Harold Martin/Reminisce
“That’s my future wife, Priscilla, in 1947, sprinkling water on fruits and vegetables at a busy produce stand she’s tending with a young co-worker in York, Pennsylvania,” says Harold Martin of Lititz, Pennsylvania. “Prices like those aren’t often seen today!” Costco is one store with good prices. See what Costco looked like when it first opened.
Courtesy Kappy Bowers/Reminisce
“In the mid-1940s, Ann Cox Williams was the original extreme couponer. Through savvy shopping and adherence to a budget, the Atlanta housewife saved money and earned 15 minutes of fame in the process. After an Atlanta newspaper published a story about her, Life magazine ran a feature on Ann’s uncanny budgeting prowess in November 1947. She fed a family of four, plus a cat, on a mere $12.50 a week,” recalls her daughter Kappy Bowers of Lithonia, Georgia.