When First Invented, Everyone Hated Shopping Carts

When First Invented, Everyone Hated Shopping Carts

For something that's such a physically and financially huge pain in the ass, we don't tend to give much thought to the miracle of refrigerators. What did people do before they could fill their own personal, stainless steel Hoth to the brim with hot dogs? Just eat all of their food right away?

Well, yeah, pretty much. In the 1930s, customers of newfangled self-service supermarkets could only buy as much as they could fit in their small, finicky iceboxes, but the technological advancements that made it feasible to put a refrigerator in every home that decade completely changed the way people shopped. Suddenly, they could buy weeks' worth of food at a time -- except they couldn't. Stores only provided small wire baskets because until then, that's all their customers needed.

Grocery kingpin Sylvan Goldman attempted several increasingly complicated solutions before he hit on the idea of the shopping cart. First, he allowed customers to fill up their baskets, leave them with a clerk, and lather, rinse, repeat until they were finished, and when that immediately proved unfeasible, he devised a railroad track that moved baskets alongside customers throughout the store. Finally, he realized he could just put a really big basket on wheels.

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

There was just one problem: Everyone hated them. They reminded women of baby carriages, which was just the last thing they wanted to push around when they finally got a moment's peace, and men were offended by the implication that they could carry all the groceries they needed, even if they couldn't.

To get his customers to accept shopping carts as a way of life, Goldman employed the oldest trick in the book: boobs. He employed an "attractive girl" to stand at the entrance, hand out shopping carts, and explain how they work, safe in the knowledge that a beautiful woman is the least likely person to ever hear the word "no." He also got hot people to roam around his store with the carts and pretend to shop, kind of like an even sneakier Abercrombie & Fitch. It worked, and Americans finally embraced the inner laziness that is their birthright.

Manna, regrettably, has a Twitter.

Top image: Tiia Monto/Wiki Commons

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