Sometimes I drop the ball at the grocery store. I reach for the bbq chips and come home with the no salt chips. I suffer through the accidental package of gel toothpaste when I wanted normal paste. Also…Flavored coffee when I wanted regular. Whole bean when I wanted ground. Strawberry yogurt when I wanted cherry. You get the idea. It’s easy to come home with something close to what I wanted, but not quite right. There are so many brands and so many price point and I only have so much time.
It’s not just the choice between similar products. I know I have to pay attention to everything at the grocery. I don’t have allergies that can make products in the grocery dangerous, but that’s just an added layer. On a basic level, I do check expiration dates and I tend to glance at the ingredient list and nutrition grid for various healthy-eating reasons. I do this because, as I was reminded this week, the most innocent of products can hold unwelcome surprises.
Take peanuts. I like to snack on dry roasted peanuts.
Look at this picture:
On the left Planters Lightly Salted Dry Roasted Peanuts. On the right, Kroger Dry Roasted Lightly Salted Peanuts (the phrase “with sea salt” on the side). Both boast the peanuts products have “50% less sodium than our regular dry roasted peanuts” (per Kroger) or “50% less sodium than Planters dry roasted peanuts” (per Planters).
Same product different brand, right? I should be able to pluck either off the shelf and have similar feelings of satisfaction.
Look at the ingredients of Planters Peanuts vs. Kroger Peanuts:
These are not the same product. Close, but not quite. They are both dry roasted peanuts, but one brand is flavored and not just with spices and chemicals, but with added sugar. Planters nuts have two ingredients. Peanuts (the plant, not the product) have some natural sugar, but Planters doesn’t add more and they skip the other 11 ingredients found in Kroger peanuts. The two brands don’t taste alike and the Kroger texture is softer, maybe from soaking in a vat of processing liquid.
My point is, I know I’m supposed to read the labels, but this reminds me I can’t trust even the simplest items in the store.