This is not food – at the local family dollar store……

family dollar

I love to explore local food culture when I travel. I peruse supermarket aisles.Β  Countries and regions within them have their own favourite foods and it tells you so much about where you have landed – socio-demographically, and about how important how and what you eat is to the local population, from the local family dollar store I deduce that the population is not too well off – the packaging is large, the prices low, our inn-keeper confirms this assessment. I wonder if I am being arrogant to look at the foods and question them, but then I think of Portugal, Italy, Spain and many other countries, where unemployment is currently at incredible rates, where people have little disposable income, but where they save money by eating natural foods that they prepare themselves for the most part rather than eating processed food. I realise this might be a controversial topic so I look forward to any and all comments.

Below you will find photos of my many discoveries at the local Family Dollar store in Poland, Maine. Many foodstuffs I personally would hesitate to categorise, as edible, but there you are. Each to her own.

Below my top picks ( i am sure the clerk thought I was taking food pack photos…) and my thoughts. The packaging reminds me of post-world war 2 large fonts, happy fonts, all the colours of the rainbow, and the boxes say ” buy me, I will simplify your life! Add colour and joy!” – the second reason I thought of World war 2 is the, for me, stupendous amount of “ersatz” ingredients – and the advertising ” made with real Peanut butter”. Below my top picks and what captured my interest. Imagine an alien arriving in your country and being amazed, that would be me!

pop tart 2

Made with real peanut butter!!!


Genuine chocolate flavour!

Good old imitation bacon bits…

imitation bacon bits

good humour

Eat the fun – good humor strawberry shortcake ice lollies – reminded me of a young alcoholic patient I once had who told me about his childhood and the first drink he had was an apple schnapps – he was attracted to it because the advertising for it showed a multi-generational family having a great time and coming from a difficult family where both parents drank he found this appealing.

bacon bowls

Ever wanted to make your own bacon bowl? This one fascinated me!

cup cakes


butter flavour syrup

Original and butter-flavoured syrup – we are in Maine – but not a maple ingredient in sight …..

So easy to make from scratch – why buy a packet ?

more tea

Wow the size of that bottle – I don’t want to imagine sugar content in this – and the size…..

pecan pies

Happy yellow colour – I luv pie!

funfetti funfetti 3 funfetti 1

Eat those colours!

Good growtwinkiesPop tarts
pop tarts 1
Real fruit! Good source of vitamins……great source of minerals…..!

family dollar 3
Some things stay the same!


29 thoughts on “This is not food – at the local family dollar store……

      • My fave is the Cherry, I can eat those without toasting, but I wanted to try the ones you posted, I heated that one, it was good, of course I bought a box of each LOL!! Oh and I did enjoy Thank you πŸ™‚

      • Hello Chef Amy – did you in all honesty get motivated to branch out in poptart land thanks to my post??’ Well that was surely not my intention πŸ™‚ or are you teasing me? Were they any good? How can you tell when to toast and when not to toast? Do you believe frosted is better than non frosted? and did you know that non-frosted has more kcal per poptart than frosted (they put more filling in the non-frosted ones to compensate….for flavour) -amazing what you learn when spending time with American fitness freak friends :)!

  1. Great post. There are many aisles at supermarkets here that I skip, too. I have noticed though when I was in the US, that buying fresh ingredients and cooking from scratch seems to be more expensive than it is here, and more expensive than what you’d spend at McD’s to fill your tummy.

    • Hi Stefan – interesting comment – thanks so much – my US friends here confirm – cooking from scratch here is more expensive – and apparently people eat at McD’s daily – I guess we are spoiled where we live – interesting to note again isn’t it!

      • Definitely! Overhere in most cases processed food is more expensive than making the same from scratch. Some exceptions are for instance peas, which are much cheaper taken out of the pod and frozen, then fresh in pods.
        Perhaps in the US only rich people cook from scratch, and therefore they can ask more? Or it is because fresh ingredients are perishable and therefore there is more waste?

      • Good question, in CH cheaper to make from scratch too – here in US – massive market – mass produced stuff with ersatz ingredients – no storage problems – guess that leads to low pricing for convenience food – so many people buying it – in comparison real food perishable not eaten as much maybe would end up costing more..?

    • apparently – so – I am standing opposite one such example – he went for a 4 hour bike ride this morning – he says he had pop-tarts for breakfast – he says they are the right mix of complex and simple carbohydrates, easily digestible, right number of kcal, right price – apparently they are the right price too – I am guessing he is an exception though as he is hyper sporty….. πŸ™‚

      • Maybe…just because he’s fit doesn’t mean he’s healthy…I do know the type though, my husband is a triathlete and iron man and he trains on haribo and recovers with biscuits!

      • Aha – interesting – sounds similar! πŸ™‚ got long talks on how to eat losds of kcal fast – not a tip i need at all of course!

      • My husband doesn’t subscribe to particular diets to improve performance, and so far, he’s done brilliantly…however, if he allowed me to take control and supercharge his diet, could he do better?? Who knows? (Let me clarify, his eating habits are far far better than they used to be, but he still eats very differently from me!)

      • πŸ™‚ – well as long as he is happy and feels healthy and runs cheerfully that is the first thing right – the doing even better bit may come as he gets a bit older and starts thinking of healthy performance enhancers from foodbods kizchen :)!!!

  2. Seriously?! Well, I always take visitors from continental Europe to our local Marks&Spencer’s, to have a look at the rows and rows of prepared fruit, veg and ready-meals. They take pictured of it, seriously wondering why people would do that to themselves πŸ˜‰

  3. πŸ™‚ You’re right, this isn’t food but they do hold a certain charm that calls to one from childhood despite being filled with ‘ersatz’ ingredients.
    πŸ™‚ You’re right, a great way to learn a land is to observe their food/drink. What are they eating, How is it made, Why do they eat that, Why do they prepare it that way, (and my all-around fav), Where’s the good fish?! It’s a fascinating and all-encompassing past-time that requires an open mind to past & current events and a kind spirit, because really, Schmalz?!!
    πŸ™‚ You’re right, the feeling of being loved and cared for is the thing that we all remember once we’re older and our horizons broaden. And that feeling of being loved sometimes leads to an errant pack of Pop-tarts finding its way into our cupboards, only to be abandoned there – its enough to just look at it.

    • Hi there – πŸ™‚ – Schmalz – feel the same way, also Griebenschmalz, which if I remember right has little bits in it…, a recent lamb sausage in Italy made of all the parts we don’t usually seek out anymore and encased in traditional wrapping – a childhood delicacy for some, for me just something I couldn’t stomach, illustrates the point well, we remember what we ate as children with fondness. thanks for stopping by and commenting, poptarts I have been told are not a bad food at all, there are some very vehement defenders of the humble poptart, you’d be surprised :)! Happy sunday

    • Dear Rhonda – I know of course – i was on the hunt for where regular people with low income jobs might shop – recent visit to largr super,arket showed lots of fruit and veg – quite pricey comparatively though Poli

      • I really do think it’s a economic divide– not just economically, but culturally. And go back to the “cakes” post you did a while back. I think we’re just a Big Cake culture (unfortunately), not the French version of the elegant, small patisserie culture. But you are so right about those kinds of stores! (and I teach in a title 1 school, where a bag of chips can be “breakfast” for a student. )

      • πŸ™‚ big cake culture – possible – starbucks in switzerland sells dame size cake they sell in us – so we are importing it. I did take photos in a us italian bakery and in a southern italian bakery and will post the pics side by side!

      • OK, Poli– waiting to see the comparison. In China, the Starbucks also had identical baked goods. What sane Chinese person would eat that much sugar? You keep me thinking…

      • Hi Rhonda πŸ™‚ – amazed that the size in china is the same too – I suspect they sell to a) expats b) Chinese families who buy 1 muffin and share it with their extended family of eight including grandparents…but you have access to asia specialists I am sure they have theories? and here I have just found an interesting blog on the topic – you might enjoy it I did:

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