There are many equalizers in this world: Desire, pain, fear. And then there’s hunger. All things, from humans to insects to mitochondria must consume. It makes sense, then, that the game show that transcended all borders and barriers was one where people raced around a supermarket lobbing Christmas hams into a shopping cart. Now that Supermarket Sweep is coming back, so has our fascination with whatever it was that fascinated us all so much about it.
The latest look into the show’s bizarre appeal comes from Eater, and author Jaime Fuller’s reverence for the show is evident even through her article delights in jabs at its warped logic. “In each show, the host, announcer, and contestants do the work of presenting a cheery, capitalist fiction that would make their country proud,” she writes, “all the while pretending that it makes total sense that winning at shopping equals spending the most money possible.”
With roots that hearken back to the ‘60s, the show tasked its sweater-clad contestants with tearing through a simulated supermarket in pursuit of the most expensive items, with winners receiving any number of prizes. Fuller’s article traces the show’s evolution not just in the States, but also in its many iterations overseas.
Twelve different countries on nearly every continent produced their own versions of the show, and while presentations differed the show’s core mission did not. Because while most game shows allow one to “take part in the extraordinary,” Fuller writes that Supermarket Sweep “lets them reenact their daily lives in a more absurd dimension.” People be shoppin’, y’all.
For example, here’s an episode of the Brazilian version. Even if you can’t speak the language, the frenzied pursuit of packaged goods remains easily decipherable.
And then there’s Turkey’s version, where the aisles take on a sickly chromatic consistency of yellows, oranges, and greens.
And here’s a commercial from the Argentinian edition, which incorporates (looks at notes) lasers?
What’s almost aggressively consistent, however, are those blunt-ass sweaters. If the reboot doesn’t bring them back, we riot.