The American supermarket, often regarded as the epitome of consumer-driven innovation and free enterprise, marks its 75th anniversary on 4 August.
Created during the great depression, it helped Americans endure the era with self-service and low prices, followed by boundless variety, healthy fresh foods, one-stop shopping and convenient prepared foods.
The first was a King Kullen store that opened 4 August 1930, in Queens, New York, and was comparable to modern no-frills warehouse outlets. Other pioneers were Ralph’s Grocery Company and Weingarten’s Big Food Markets.
Shopping carts, automobiles, free parking and mechanical refrigerators, were key to its early success, according to the Washington, DC-based Food Marketing Institute. Over the years, supermarkets pioneered one-stop convenience shopping and new technologies – most notably the barcode – now scanned more than 5bn times a day worldwide.