Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Giant Jar of Mayonnaise

Our new favorite place to go on a Friday night: Costco.

A friend loaned us her membership card back in December, we took a covert tour and promptly joined ourselves. The attraction? Hard to define.

There’s the sense of getting a “deal” on everything. The comical size of the products, a.k.a. the “giant jar of mayonnaise” factor, and the accompanying notion that somehow buying in bulk will save us time. The quixotic juxtaposition of washers and dryers next to apples and oranges next to diamond rings (I always make sure to visit “my” one-carat princess cut sparkler). The samples.

I like to think of the $45 membership fee as an annual pass to the local amusement park, where reason and sense take a holiday.

Last night, we arrived in need of bread, salad mix, energy bars, and snacks to take to a Super Bowl party. We walked away with:

  • Three 2.5 lb. loaves of multigrain bread. We eat a lot of sandwiches.

  • 1 lb. container of Spring Mix salad

  • 24-count Zone energy bars

  • 30 oz. bag of Doritos

  • 3.5 lb. container of peanuts

And then, just because we could:

  • 18-count pack of kitchen sponges

  • 1 quart container of salad dressing. To go with the Spring Mix.

  • 2.5 lb. Colombian coffee

  • 3 lb. cottage cheese

  • 2 lb. Swiss cheese slices. We eat a lot of sandwiches.

  • 16-count hamburger buns. To go with the 16-count veggie burgers we bought back in January. As a connoisseur of many a horrendous veggie burger, I pronounce Costco’s The Best Ever.

  • 32-count “antioxidant” organic blueberry waffles with pomegranate infusion; 2 bags Total whole wheat cereal. Someone’s cholesterol is 279.

  • 4 lbs. butter; 4 lb. bag brown sugar; 16 Healthy Choice fudge bars. Sort of defeating the waffles and Total.

From our shopping trip of January 16, we’re still working our way through:

  • 32 cans of Caffeine Free Diet Coke

  • 300 oz. of laundry detergent (good for 96 loads)

  • 8-pack of Chapstick

  • 16-count pack of fruit parfaits

  • 5 lb. bag of frozen oven fries

  • Two 3-lb. containers of peanut butter

  • 48 Sweet and Salty Peanut Granola Bars

  • We’ve yet to even open the 56 oz. bag of frozen spinach ravioli, two 30-oz. containers of mustard or 2-pack of Refresh eye drops

From December 18, we still haven’t depleted:

  • 60 envelopes of Swiss Miss hot cocoa

  • 4-pack of Lysol toilet bowl cleaner

  • 48 bar Nature Valley Granola Variety Pack

  • 1 pint 100% pure bourbon Madagascar vanilla

  • Two 18-oz. packages of frozen butternut squash ravioli

  • 5 pack Kodak film

  • 265 tablets Tums maximum strength ultra. For the calcium.

  • 250-count One a Day Vitamins for Women

  • 3-pack Colgate Total Whitening gel toothpaste

  • 2 lbs. Red Star Active Dry Yeast

  • 4 lbs. confectioner’s sugar

Are we saving money? I have no idea. Certainly, some of our purchases are practical items that are staples of our diet and lifestyle; on a cost per unit basis, I know we’re getting a bargain. But we’ve also made our share of whimsical impulse buys. What possessed me to put that box mix of jumbo Cinnabon muffins in my cart? Costco made me do it.

Are we saving time? Possibly, but we haven’t altogether negated the need for trips to Jewel or Trader Joe’s. With limited storage capacity in our condo, we’ve passed on Costco offerings like the 12-pack of paper towels, 8-pack of Kleenex, 88-count box of tampons and a 500-count box of security envelopes in favor of more diminutive counterparts available elsewhere. (My parents, on the other hand, installed additional shelving in their basement to hold approximately 1,842 rolls of toilet paper.)

Are we evil for succumbing to the allure of The Big Box and sticking it to The Little Guy? Rumor has it that Costco employees are unionized and receive healthcare benefits. So I feel good about that. And hey, I still get my single 16-oz. jar of mayonnaise at the produce market down the street.

Are we contributing to the suburbanization or mall-ification of the urban landscape? I don’t care. It’s something different to do on a Friday night. And those Cinnabon muffins were awesome.


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