Game shows are important to the American economy. Without game shows Alex Trebek would be a fisherman, Pat Sajak would be nothing more than the descendant of a notorious bank robber from the 1930’s, and Mark L. Wahlberg would not need to let us all know his middle name is “Lenny” to save us confusion into saying “Wait, Mark Wahlberg is a game show host now? What happened to his career?” One such game show that has captured my heart was Supermarket Sweep. I’m going to write about that today because I made a reference to it in a text message. You may never have heard of this show. If you never have it’s okay. Go read about some woman’s cat or some dumb avocado recipe today.
Supermarket Sweep was big in the 1990s even though everyone on it looked like they were from the 1980s. The show was on PAX, the religious channel. I never had much use for religion. I had much more use for their channel. Shop Til You Drop, Wonder Years reruns, It’s A Miracle, It’s A Miracle: Pets Edition, It’s A Miracle: African-American Neighbors You Always Thought Were Drug Dealers Edition, and an occasional movie with all the good parts taken out were great on PAX.
(6 discs, 6 hours? What a scam artist’s way to jack up the price. Is the economy in heaven that bad?)
The entire show took place inside a supermarket. I think there was a crowd hidden somewhere we never got to see. The host, David Ruprecht, looked like any religious man you know hates women looked. He always smiled. I never trust a constant smiler. Especially not one with Q-Tip hair. He was the perfect host for the show. Never did he give off a negative vibe and that’s what overly religious people want when they watch television. They want a guy who won’t laugh at idiots who think Bush’s Baked Beans is a cereal company.
(Someday D.R. will kill a man and an older Neil Patrick Harris will play him in the movie)
In many ways Supermarket Sweep was like The Price is Right. I liked it better. The Price is Right is an hour-long. I have trouble spending an hour doing anything let alone being tricked into thinking “Barker’s Beauties” are as good-looking as women get. Supermarket Sweep focused more on grocery item questions. The first round consisted of one partner running off after a smile and a slight shoulder rub. Smiling Dave would ask the remaining partner questions about grocery items. The partners eventually would switch and they would then answer questions in some format. The final round was called the Round Robin where the partners would switch off each question. The whole goal was to rack up as much time to shop later on. Sometimes Supermarket Sweep was a show that could be skipped through the first half. The real magic happened once the shopping began.
With their yellow, red, or their Buster Baxter from Arthur colored t-shirts now in place; teams would prepare to do their actual shopping. The main goal in the shopping was to spend as much money as possible. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Contestants were limited to 5 of each item. The big grabs were always gigantic turkeys, supersized diapers, and Afghan edible underwear. Of course 9/11 changed everything and the Afghan underwear was discontinued. There would be special events during the shopping such as hints to items containing more cash prizes, giant inflatable Jolly Green Giants with a peel off coupon representing a mystery amount beneath, and temple guards who would come out to occasionally attack the shoppers.
(This kid is so getting ready to kick this temple guard in the balls)
Time would run out and whatever was in their cart(s) would then be totaled up during the break. It was sad sometimes to see teams who only accumulated a minute and a half only spend around $200 during the shop while a team with a hefty four minutes could rake in $1500. Poor smiling David would have to act as if they had a snowball’s chance in my ass. Once the winning team was selected they would then have the chance to win a bigger prize by going from product clue to product clue in the allotted time. Rarely did these Christians ever succeed in the very last round. I always felt like they never gave them nearly enough time. Then David would smile and things would be better. If David’s smiling then they must have plenty of time. I swear. That man has some really scary skeletons.
It has been years since I have seen Supermarket Sweep. There’s no way it’s still on the air. It was one of those fly under the radar shows. I believe it came on at 6 or 6:30. Religious people are always getting home earlier than sinners like me. When I mention religion with the show it’s not like they threw in famous religious food products like “Jesus-O’s” or “Canaanite Canine Bites.” Supermarket Sweep kept the religion to a very minimum. Probably because a lot of their contestants were clearly really chipper gay men. The only time David wasn’t smiling was when contestants tried telling him they were just two guys who lived together. David did not get this. Why would two men ever live together? Maybe to share a woman. Other than that he was very confused.
(Of course they chose the banana…)
For those interested, here is a full episode: