Thursday, December 24, 2009

Whole Foods Midnight Marathon

My dad once almost beat a Whole Foods employee into submission because the store lacked Hershey's chocolate syrup and Coca-Cola. That said, despite liking their cheese selection greatly, I feel pretty similarly about the entire Whole Foods operation. I like Velveeta, Jim Beam, and Wonder Bread on occasion. And I really like paying less for groceries.

But I can take Whole Foods with a grain of salt. I realize that moral superiority isn't really dictated by where you shop for groceries. So Whole Foods Midnight Madness in Denver was quite a humorous event for me.

"Midnight Madness," a term usually used to refer to college basketball programs' first practice of the year, means that Whole Foods puts a very few items on sale-- and on sale at Whole Foods is still pricier than Wal-Mart's everyday low prices (especially if they have that creepy yellow smiley face near the price.) Shrimp for $7 a pound? Insanity. Blocks of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for $5? These prices, from what I could discern, made the yuppies of Cherry Creek as excited as if they'd received a new fixed-speed bicycle from Barack Obama for Christmas (or Eid?)

As we arrived at Whole Foods around 11:15 in the PM, we quickly realized that there was not an entire spot in the entire parking lot. Wait, were we mistakenly at a Subaru dealership? No. It was really Whole Foods, replete with Subaru Outbacks and their yuppie drivers. Oh my god, a Prius. The employees bowed to the owner as he entered the store. Thinking that Whole Foods' customers might be a bit less aggressive than Wal-Mart's customers, I quickly realized that a $4 pack of wheat naan could turn even the greenest soccer mom into a crazed discount hunter. Here's a picture of me getting a great deal on naan.

After an extended search for a parking spot, we entered the store to cheering employees announcing the midnight madness specials on the overhead speaker. Hip-hop music between the announcements calmed people's nerves about being a white person in an all-white grocery store. Soccer moms in pajamas ran around the aisles like teens at a slumber party high on soda flavored with all-natural coarse cane sugar.

I realized that the amount of self-congratulatory and hipster-ish quotes being thrown around would put my memory on overload (although that happens during most simple sentences to me). So I decided, luckily, to write down some of the quotes as I anticipated that this could be a blog-worthy event. I'll just throw these quotes out now with a lil' bit of commentary.

"Honey, are we out of naan at home?" I mean, why would you limit your naan consumption to home? Most families of four need at least twelve loaves of naan each week. Plus if you keep a stash in the car, you could eat twenty loaves of naan easily.

(on the overheard speaker): "The OJ special is in the PRODUCE section and not in the NATURAL JUICE section." This caused an absolute tide of yuppies to shift directions and I'm pretty sure someone got hurt in the ensuing rush for $3.99 half-gallons of OJ.

"Oh my god, I can't believe we biked here honey! We are having SO MUCH FUN." Couples' high-five. By the size and irony of the guy's moustache, and her awkward-looking blue leggings, I could tell they were some of the first people on their block to see Modest Mouse live in concert at a small venue. (Cheers to Christian's blog Stuff White People Like for informing this last hipster-inspired commentary).

Tatooed employee: "Free samples, bro! Rice nog!"
RetiredJK: "Is it ORGANIC?"
TE: "Sorry it's not, bro, but it's all natural and really tasty!"
RJK: (Disgusted look) Later broski.

Fifty-something: "EXCUSE ME, you're cutting in the seafood line!!!
Sixty-something: "I'm in the OLIVE LINE!"
Employee with multiple facial piercings: "Free samples! Pizza! No gluten! No rye! No wheat!" Ummm... at some point I feel like Whole Foods sells people the emperor's new clothes and that there's not actually anything in the box. Maybe some olive oil or something. But I'll bet buying it still feels really good inside.
A couple other funny things I noticed. One is that chicks at Whole Foods really like to wear their hair like Princess Leia from Star Wars. I also have never even fathomed that so many fifty-somethings knew how to send text messages. I really wondered who these folks were texting at midnight, given that my parents go to sleep two to three hours prior most nights. Probably their friends in Japan or something multicultural like that.
At the checkout, I really had to fight the desire to buy a Northern Italian cooking magazine, because seriously who would even eat Southern Italian food? Philistines. The uncultured. I say this as I eat a late-night crab enchilada with nacho cheese. But seriously, the string trio playing 90's pop hits (jazz-style) was blocking my access to baguettes. I'm pretty sure they played "I Want It That Way" by N'Sync on their viola and stuff. The layout of the store was very poor because I need two baguettes a day.
But as I left with my naan and block of Parmesan cheese, one of their dreadlocked employees handed me a free sample of peppermint soy beverage. ORGANIC. And if it wasn't the best peppermint soy beverage I've ever had then my name is not JK and I'm not retired. Whole Foods, holla! P.S. My dad would have totally kicked that employee's arse.

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