Photo Credit: Publix
Like lots of web sites, BuzzFeed loves to make huge, often polarizing pronouncements about just about everything. A few sample headlines: “The Best F*cking Cruise Ship Tour You'll Ever Take,” “Meet the Happiest Animal in the World,” “Aren’t Castles Just The Greatest Things?” This week, I actually agreed with one of the site’s click-provoking stories: Reasons Why Publix Is The Best Grocery Store to Ever Exist.
Publix really is the best grocery store to ever exist. If you haven’t spent much time in the South, you might not be familiar with the supermarket chain where “shopping is a pleasure.” I grew up in Florida, where there’s a Publix in every strip mall, and it was, and still is, my family’s only food shopping destination. Running to the Winn-Dixie or Albertson’s for a gallon of milk was only acceptable if there was a hurricane and all the Publix stores were closed.
You might say I was raised in Publix. As a baby, my mom pushed me around the wide aisles in the front seat of the shopping cart. As a child, I waited in line at the bakery for free cookies and weighed myself on the big (now, old-fashioned) scale at the front of the store. My elementary school class took a field trip to Publix where we learned about fruit in the produce department. Which seems very backwoods, now that I think about it. In high school, my friends and I ate Publix's deliciously greasy fried chicken at makeshift picnics on the beach.
As a college student, I left home but I didn’t stop shopping at Publix. I pushed the cart around the store by myself, filling it with microwavable pasta, diet ice cream sandwiches and peanut butter. And then I moved to New York and realized that not all grocery stores are as remotely nice as my beloved Publix. They are borderline awful.
Sure, in New York, I can go to my local gourmet market and buy delicious cheeses from my friendly neighborhood cheesemonger. I can find a lovely selection of wines at the wine store, and cheap flowers at my favorite bodega, and paper towels and toothpaste at the big chain drugstore and all my pantry basics at the supermarket around the corner. Some may call that style of shopping "European." I call it exhausting.
I want to pull into the Publix parking lot and load up my imaginary car with everything I need. And the cashier will smile and tell me to have a nice day, and my bill will be half as much as it would be in New York. And none of the produce would be moldy.
I have a recurring dream where I take a subway to the very end of the line where it reaches a secret Publix. The train travels above ground, over marshy wetlands, to an empty parking lot. I grab a cart and slowly maneuver my way around the store, grabbing this and that. The entire dream is just that, me shopping at Publix. And then I wake up, vaguely dissatisfied with my life.
You may have your Whole Foods, your Wegman’s, your Fairway. I’ll take Publix over any store any day.