Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 9th Part 1 – Stew Leonard’s

Just about every town in America has a grocery store, but only four (Norwalk CT, Danbury CT, Newington CT, Yonkers NY) have a Stew Leonard’s.

Answer me this: Does your local grocery store have a petting zoo? Ice cream store? Singing and dancing mechanical Chiquita banana? Free food samples every 3.5 feet? Dairy products made in-store? A hoedown-inducing animatronic country-western Milk Carton band? Or the crème de la crème, a push-button controlled mooing cow? This is not a grocery store. This is a spectacle of the highest order.

The Chiquita Senorita performing the Banana Boogie.

In my youth, I can remember going to Stew’s fairly often, and the years in between have done nothing to diminish the mystique. I still push the cow button. I still watch the milk band. I still make noises at the goats hoping they will understand my dialect and respond in kind.

As my sisters and I got older, we didn’t really go to Stew’s anymore. I get it – there are obvious benefits to bringing children here. All the bells and whistles of this magical place would keep us wide-eyed and slack-jawed long enough for my mom to get some shopping done, unlike at our local Grade A ShopRite, where we likely pelted each other with produce and threw shiny cereal boxes into the cart when mom wasn’t looking.

Push button, cow moos. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Still though; being there again makes me feel like I’ve missed out on years of quality Stew’s time. There’s a sense of joy about the place. You never see somebody with a “Why the hell did I come to Stew Leonard’s?” look on their face. You just don’t. Young and old people alike are jumping up and down on the inside…it’s just that kids are also jumping up and down on the outside.

And my God, the samples.

They had free samples of the following: Pumpkin pie, apple cider, pomegranate juice, French bread + olive oil, salmon salad on a cracker, chicken pot pie, gelato, garden salad, tortilla chip with cheese dip, chicken salad on a cracker, and at least two more that I’m forgetting.

It’s unbelievable. For one, it totally increases your excitement about shopping. Also, I decided then and there that if I ever found myself unemployed and homeless, I’d be setting up cardboard camp near a Stew’s. Not a bad life.

We had it in our minds that the drawback to all this was the prices; you’ll certainly pay more for all the hubbub. Not the case. Granted we only bought burger-making supplies, but we found that the prices were comparable to the grocery stores we usually go to. This of course begs the question; why the hell don’t we just always go to Stew’s?

I’m still trying to think of a reason why not. (Well, there's the fact that they don't seem to have toiletries and a lot of your other everyday grocery store items. But who cares? Why make a grandiose statement if you're going to back down? Go to CVS for all that other junk).

Stay tuned for part 2 of the October 9th Food Plus Beer mega-day; including a new way to make death-defying cheeseburgers, beer, and the Monster B’s party bus.


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