by CAROL McWEENfor the Sun Gazette

Now that we can visit the grocery store without dressing up as crime scene investigators, shopping is fun again. Or fun most of the time, when we don’t come across empty shelves where the toilet paper or laundry soap used to be.

I have to say that I enjoy the fresh produce section the best, because that’s where all the healthy food lives. But, for it to make me healthy, I must EAT it first.

In fact, my favorite browsing area is the Baking Needs aisle. The thought of all those cakes, pies and desserts waiting to arrive gives me a sugar rush on the spot. A birthday cake for a grandchild? No problem. Dessert for the next women’s club meeting? Peasy easy. And the best part: THINK all delicious treats are calorie-free!

I even like the gadget wall there. Who knew muffins could be made in so many sizes?

Birthday items always entertain me too. One year I bought candles that wouldn’t go out for my husband’s birthday cake. Another year it was a musical candle holder for a grandchild’s birthday cake. The only hard part was getting the thing SHUT DOWN once the joke was over. I mean how many times can you listen to “Happy Birthday to you?”

Another section I like is the foreign food aisle. It’s like taking a trip to Mexico, India or China without the risk or cost of a ticket. Hmmm. . . I wonder if this pot of Chicken Tikka sauce is authentic. I wouldn’t know since I’ve never been to India, but that’ll have to wait until I get there. And these Chinese noodles exploding in my pot are like a magic trick.

I’ve bought more gadgets at the grocery store over the years than at any Target. I found springy bowl lids (think little shower caps), a gadget to open uncooperative jars, and a press to smash smiley faces on slices of bread. I recently saw an intriguing avocado tool that opens the thing, pits it, and slices it – if only I ate avocados.

At the end of almost every errand, I stagger home with twice as many things as I wanted to buy. Some of these exotic buys will stay on my old school shelves, reducing their best before dates so my kids have something to blame me for when they come to visit.

Contact Carol McEwen at [email protected]

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