With several games left in the season of another unprecedented year for the Packers, chances are anyone in Wisconsin reading this column will be invited to a Packer party sometime soon.
Yes, Packer parties are real. People in Wisconsin do not just get together to watch the game. They throw Packer parties.
To show you are a gracious guest, you’ll want to bring a dish to pass, which means it’s time to take a trip to the grocery store. If you’re from out of state, you’ll want to pay particular attention: because I’m about to talk you through the ins and outs of grocery shopping, Wisconsin style.
First, a disclaimer: The tactics described for navigating grocery stores do not necessarily apply to on-campus grocery stores like Fresh Market. This is because the college kid demographic, which includes many out-of-state students and people who survive on Ramen, is not representative of the average Wisconsin shopper. For this reason it is best to venture off-campus for a true Wisconsin experience.
Step 1: Do your research
Before setting foot in a supermarket, do a little reconnaissance to scope out the best deals. Wisconsin is home to employee-owned grocery chains like Woodman’s. Ay caramba do they have low prices! They’re committed to keeping prices at basement levels, which means not only can you buy a lifetime supply of peanut butter for approximately five cents, their television ads are awesomely low-budget and informative.
If you don’t know who Phil Woodman is, get yourself on YouTube pronto. He’s a scrawny, middle-aged man who desperately needs a belt to hoist his pleated khakis well above his 28-inch waist. Despite his frailness, the man can shout. Phil is like a banshee, shrieking and flailing his limbs to alert viewers of incredible deals for “pennies on the dollar!”
Goofiness aside, there is something comforting about a man so hell-bent on telling his customers about the week’s deals that he is willing to stand next to a case of toilet bowl cleaner and deliver it to you straight, sans production values or marketing knowledge. Paying attention to these commercials can make Packer party researching fun.
To stay on your research A-game, do not underestimate Phil’s ability to crank out new commercials. He updates them frequently, giving you infinite opportunities to $ave on industrial sized containers of just about anything you can imagine.
Step 2: Timing is everything
Once you have taken the initiative to hit the grocery stores when the deals strike, recognize you should not just waltz into a Wisconsin grocery store any time you please. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT attempt to grocery shop just before a Packer game starts. The place will be more packed than a nasty house party on South Randall that every freshman on campus somehow found out about.
On the contrary, the best time to grocery shop is during the Packer game! Don’t believe me? Check out your local Piggly Wiggly when the Pack is on. The place will be a veritable ghost town, leaving you to shop leisurely in peace without having to fight a ferocious Packer fan for the last package of Colby Jack.
This will, however, make you late for your Packer party, so be sure to make your entrance quietly. Packer fans genuinely believe their team’s performance is closely correlated with how intently they watch the game. This means that if Aaron Rodgers throws an interception, it’s probably your fault for distracting them from their fan duties.
For those of you Wisconsinites who find this suggestion to be sacrilegious, please remember today’s column is directed toward out-of-staters who are looking to make it in the Badger State. I would never suggest you miss church. Whoops … I mean the Packer game.
Step 3: Prepare for small talk
Talking to strangers is the norm in Wisconsin grocery stores. This is probably true for most of the Midwest. If you’re from the coast, this chattiness may make you confused or uncomfortable. You may think you yourself, “Do I know this guy? Why is he telling me about how he bought the same steak last week to grill at his buddy Al’s place? Who is Al?”
Should you find yourself in a conversation with a rando without much to say, keep in mind that Wisconsinites love to talk about the weather. A good formula to follow is: “Gee, it’s only (whatever month it is) and we’ve already got snow!” The reverse also works: “Can you believe it’s (whatever month it is) and we haven’t seen any of the white stuff yet?”
My roommate would like to point out that, because of the chattiness of Wisconsin shoppers, you may want to move quickly and discreetly through certain aisles. The last thing you want is for some old lady to start chatting you up while you’re reaching for laxatives or some other delicate product.
Step 4: Recognize the party potential
Wisconsin grocery stores are not merely for foodstuffs. They double as booze havens! They have a wider (and cheaper) selection than many liquor stores elsewhere. Word on the street is this is not typical of grocery stores in other states. Let’s be honest — you probably do not have to worry about bringing your own stock to a Packer party. However, you can take this opportunity to buy Wisconsin-made delicacies like Spotted Cow that you cannot find in your home state.
So there ya have it, folks. I hope this simple four-step process helps demystify the process of grocery shopping in Wisconsin. And remember, dun, dun, da-na-na, GO, PACK GO!