Eight things that surprise tourists in Spanish supermarkets


It was in 1957 when Franco’s Minister of Commerce Alberto Ullastres launched a development plan known as “Supermarket Operation” aimed at establishing a network of self-service of public capital to modernize Spain.

Until then, despite some department stores such as El Corte Inglés or Galerías Preciados, the sale of food depended on the traditional shops, such as grocery stores, grocery stores or the market stalls themselves. We already know the rest of the story, right?

The self-service supermarket concept that emerged at the beginning of the 20th century in Manhattan has changed the way we consume to the point that shopping at the supermarket has become a regular routine in our lives, also establishing a multimillion-dollar business with empires such as Own Mercadona in Spain or Walmart in the United States, the latter being the largest retailer in the world that offers the largest private employment offer.

But despite being a purely Western concept associated with American consumerism and individualism, there are still considerable differences between the supermarkets of the world today, perhaps less and less, especially in marketing strategies, but there are still nuances associated with the customs of consumption and eating patterns from each world area.

Of course, Russians don’t eat the same as Japanese people, nor those from Austin and those from Cuenca. Therefore, it is logical that supermarkets in each country show these differences that, at times, can be more than hilarious: those who have visited a supermarket in Japan or the United States will surely have been amazed by many details. Well the same when Hiroshi or Megan They go into a Mercadona, an Alimerka or an Ahorramás and see…

A bakery in the supermarket? ‘Que’?

Types of bread – Source: Pixabay

Although even Ahorramás has decided to close the bakery as it had been in recent years, it is a fact that most Spanish supermarkets have a considerable space dedicated to bread and sweets.

It was the Asturian Alimerka one of the first supermarket chains, back in the late 90s, which introduced a space for bakery and cake shop own which was a complete success. There was no longer a need to go shopping at the supermarket and then get bread from the bakery: you could do it all in the same place.

Taking into account that bread is not such a common food supplement in many countries, it is not surprising that tourists are amazed by the number of types of bread that we can find here: picos, bregado, ciabatta, pistol, braid, thread, payés … A paradise for the very bread lovers and a unsolvable dilemma for Apu who just arrived from Bangalore or Sue who comes from Brisbane.

fish with head

Fish - Source: Pixabay
Fish – Source: Pixabay

Several recent viral videos showed how some tourists, especially Americans, were surprised to see the fish in one piece and with its head. It is worth reminding Rusty and Dakota that fish need their heads to survive underwater. But maybe see them exposed on the ice of the fish market without decapitating It may cause you to lose a bit of your love for grouper or turbot.

Unrefrigerated eggs? What if a chick is born in the supermarket?

Eggs - Source: Pixabay
Eggs – Source: Pixabay

Neither the milk nor the eggs are refrigerated in the supermarket, but as soon as we get home, the first thing we do is put the eggs in the refrigerator. Because? We consider that in the refrigerator there are fewer risks for them, since it is the place with the more stable temperature…not so much because a chick is going to break the shell and hatch if we put it in the closet and the sun shines on it. Let’s remember that not all eggs are fertilized and, in addition, they need the heat of the hen to hatch.

In any case, in countries like the United States, they always choose to clean and refrigerate them, which extends the best before date, which is why many tourists may be surprised. As we Spaniards do in other countries, like Icelandwhen we verify that milk is not UHT and it cannot be kept outside the refrigerator, even if it is not unsealed.

‘Where is my Dr. Pepper Cherry Vanilla Cream Soda Caffeine Free Zero Sugar? What af#&*!!!’

Dr. Pepper - Source: Pixabay
Dr. Pepper – Source: Pixabay

Okay, yes, in the bakery you have bregado and ciabatta, but in the drinks area there are a lot of varieties missing. And in the snacks and extruded products, and in the frozen one… Anyone who has entered a supermarket in the United States will have noticed the immense variety of products they have, especially prepared and industrial food. The same can be said about Japan and its thousand and one flavors of so many products.

So it is normal that when Yayoi or Cory enter a Spanish supermarket they feel somewhat disappointed at the reduced range of some products. So no matter how much you look for the Wasabi Kit Kat You won’t find it here, Akihiro. But did you see that we have five liter oil jugs? They are protected in a safe next to the Dom Pérignon, but there they are.

Can I get a beer? Just one?


You’ve probably seen those movies many times where a guy in a soot-stained cap gets into his GMC a pack of Budweiser as he heads home after a hard day’s work at the foundry. But it’s not that Mack intends to drink them all while he watches the Cardinals game, it’s just that you can’t buy just one: apparently you have to take the entire pack. Here in Spain, however, you can buy a single can of beer… although not a single yogurt, right?

Jack Daniel’s in the supermarket? And at these prices!

Jack Daniel's - Source: Unsplash
Jack Daniel’s – Source: Unsplash

Surely when Lemmy from Motörhead He came on tour in Spain, he enjoyed doing the shopping himself at the corner supermarket. He didn’t have to stop by the liquor store to stock up on Jack Daniel’s, he could take a couple of bottles along with the avocados, ham, and sliced ​​bread. And, in many countries, high-proof drinks can only be purchased in specialized establishments, known as liquor stores.

And then there’s the price, of course. For Niklas, who comes from Bergen, it is crazy to buy a bottle of Bombay Sapphire and not having to take out a second mortgage to finance it.

But where are the AR-15, grenades and opiates?

AR-15 - Source: Wikimedia
AR-15 – Source: Wikimedia

But probably the main difference between our supermarkets and those in the United States is that here you can’t go in and take a 5.56 caliber assault rifle and a few opioid medications.

Or at least that was the case until recently in the Walmarts of this country, which until 2022 was under the eye of the hurricane for sell weapons to your clients. Likewise, she was also forced to pay a heavy fine to resolve claims for opioids erroneously administered to clients.

I can’t buy assault rifles, but you have a guy sharpening a knife

Cutting ham - Source: Depositphotos
Cutting ham – Source: Depositphotos

No matter how much Tiffany walks the halls of Mercadona, she won’t find a Smith & Wesson, but you can find a ham cutter, which the chain implemented since 2017 as a complement to machine cutting. The most fanatic tourists of the most cañí delicacy of our diet are amazed when they see the care with which the ham cutters carry out their task. And, despite globalization and so on, each super belongs to his father and motherTRUE?

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