Supermarket Sweep celebrated its 50th anniversary on Sunday, December 20, 2015.
Old Pearson TV IntroEdit
Recklessly guiding your shopping cart through the aisles of your local supermarket may not win the approval of your fellow shoppers, but in SUPERMARKET SWEEP, it's not only encouraged but required!
SUPERMARKET SWEEP is a test of a shopper's supermarket savvy. The object of this fast-paced game is to accumulate the highest grocery bill by flying through the supermarket and purchasing merchandise within a limited amount of time.
Three teams of shoppers compete to earn valuable shopping time by responding to a series of product-related questions, anecdotes and brain teasers. Each correct answer wins the responding team more time to shop.
The excitement peaks during the Big Sweep round, as the contestants maneuver their carts through the aisles to grab as many items as possible. At the sound of the final bell, the shopper with the highest grocery bill wins the game and plays the Super Sweep bonus round.
The team must successfully locate three products whose identities are cleverly concealed by amusing anecdotes. If the team returns to the check-out counter with the three items before time runs out, they win the grand prize.
Gameplay (ABC version)Edit
- "From (insert location, preferably NYC Tri-state area) and from this Food Fair store. A part of the finest growing food chain that features quality food at low prices, it's time for Supermarket Sweep! The TV game show that travels to your hometown and lets you run wild through your supermarket! And now, here he is, your master of ceremonies, Bill Malone!"
- "It's Supermarket Sweep! The show that comes to your hometown and gives you a chance to run wild through your supermarket! And now, your master of ceremonies, Bill Malone!"
Three teams, usually married couples, but generally always a housewife and her "runner" – usually a male relative under the age of forty, and, after one contestant in the pilot had a heart attack, a certified letter from a physician saying they could compete – competed. Each team began with a base time of one minute and thirty seconds (1:30).
In the first part of the game, the teams were shown a grocery item or combination of two closely associated grocery items and were asked to guess the retail price. As host Bill Malone instructed the contestants to "Please checkout on your machine what you think is the exact retail price", the housewives would mentally calculate the price of all items shown and type the amount on their registers. Each player's totals were revealed followed by Bill Malone resorting to the automatic counter which displays the item's exact retail price. The team who came the closest won the item, and an additional 15 seconds to their time. Four items were played and each item revolved around a central household related theme, such as items for washing, like laundry soap, to the items needed to created the associated "wash day" soup, a soup generally made at the same time washing was being done, like potatoes and gravy.
In the second part of the game, one contestant from each team, generally referred to as a "runner", went on a shopping spree through the market using the time accumulated in the first half of the game. Several bonus prizes, coming in the form of pennants with dollar values ranging from $10 to $100 printed on them, would be spread throughout the store. After each contestant ran their sweep, the total value of groceries and bonus prizes in each player's cart was determined. The team with the highest total won not only the groceries they accumulated and the bonuses they picked up, but they also earn the right to return to the show and play in the next game.
Gameplay (Lifetime/PAX version)Edit
The gameplay of the Lifetime/PAX version of Supermarket Sweep consisted of three segments: the Question Round, the Big Sweep, and the Bonus Sweep. The game was played between three teams of two related individuals, such as a parent and child, spouses, siblings, or best friends. During the Bonus Sweep, the team members wore sweatshirts of the same color (aqua blue for Team #1 [green in earlier tapings], burgundy for Team #2, yellow for Team #3 [blue in earlier tapings] [the colors of the first two teams switched starting in 1993]). The show gave the appearance that pairs were chosen to be contestants based on who in the audience (or in the show's last two seasons, the market) held pre-distributed grocery items that the announcer called for at the beginning of the show.
At the beginning of the game, all three teams started with a base time of one minute and 30 seconds (1:30), the same amount of time provided in the original. Questions answered correctly added time to their clocks. The Question Round was divided into three segments. In the first two segments, one teammate from each team answered a variety of questions and/or played one of several Pricing Games that involved pricing everyday grocery items, with the teammates switching between segments. The third segment was the Round Robin game, in which the teammates rotated after each question.
Players were asked a series of questions, usually with a specific brand of grocery items used as answers, and each question was worth 10 seconds. In each round, the questions followed a specific format, which varied between rounds and episodes. The formats used on the show included:
- Name the Product - Guessing which item a series of interesting facts described.
- Mystery Product - Determining the brand name of a product, after being shown a picture of the product in which the brand name had been edited out.
- Slogans - Guessing which item went with a particular slogan, tagline, or jingle.
- Multiple Choice - Selecting one or more of the answers to a series of questions from a bank of four, five or six possible choices.
- Three Right - Selecting which three of six items belonged to a certain brand or item or genre.
- Word Games - Filling in the blanks to reveal a product's name.
- Fill in the Blank - Determining a word shared by two well-known phrases.
- This or That or Fact or Not a Fact - Selecting one of two answers, one right answer and one wrong answer.
- Animal Sounds - Answer animal related questions by making the sound the animal makes.
- Twisted - Guessing a product's name from synonyms and/or antonyms that replaced each word.
- County Fair - Testing the players' sense of knowledge of a particular gadget.
- Supermarket Trivia - Answering questions about items sold in the supermarket.
- Fat Chance - Determining which of three items had the fewest grams of fat.
- Checkstand Headlines – Answering questions about a famous person or event that was read about in checkstand tabloids.
- Proverbs –Completing these popular expressions with items found or sold in the supermarket.
During each segment, different Pricing Games were played involving everyday groceries. These games varied from day to day and generally involved the following objectives:
- Selecting which of three items was priced above or below a certain amount, was not a given price, was on sale, was incorrectly priced, was correctly priced, or was the most expensive.
- Determining how much of one item could be bought for a certain amount of money.
- Guessing whether the actual price for a product was higher or lower than the price displayed. A variation also included the possibility of the shown price being correct.
If a player was correct, that team earned 10 seconds; however, if all three players were right, 30 seconds was added to all three teams' times. In Season 1, however, all games (excluding the "on sale" version) had 20 seconds added to all three teams if all three players were right.
Special Games were games that went beyond the realm of simply standing at the contestant area answering questions.
- 30-Second Shootout - At the beginning of the second segment of the question round, both contestants on a team played an individual game, which banked the team 30 seconds of Sweep time; each team took turns by playing the game individually. The format usually consisted of a contestant guessing a series of words using the clues given by his or her partner. The first letter of each correct answer was a letter in the name of a brand name or item from the market, which the guesser then had to identify to earn the Sweep time. Each of the teams had 30 seconds to achieve this (40 in the final Lifetime season), and if a word was accidentally blurted out by the clue-giver, the team was disqualified automatically.
- During the Lifetime era, the giver tried to get his/her partner to say any word or a name beginning with the appropriate letter. The guesser had to identify the product before time ran out. An additional rule was that once a clue was used on one of the words in the list, it was not to be used again (doing so would lead to disqualification of that team).
- In the PAX run, pre-selected words to which their initials spell out the product's name were given to the giver and s/he simply have to convey them to his/her partner. If the giver gets stuck s/he can pass and go to the next word. Also the "no repetitions" rule was lifted. When time was up, that's when the guesser tried to guess the product using the letters revealed, although s/he can guess while the clock was still ticking.
- On some episodes, an alternative format was used with a picture of a product shown. Each clue changed the product's picture.
- Snack Attack Movie Game - Three 10-second questions about movies were asked. The player who answered the last of the three questions correctly earned the right to take a taste test of a food item in the market; correctly identifying the item earned that team $50 for the Big Sweep. If the contestant guessed right on a second chance (multiple choice, and consisting of a maximum three choices), that team earned $25. In some cases, only one chance was used and the question consisted of only two choices.
Beginning in Season 3, a Mini-Sweep was played at the beginning of the first round. A toss-up question (usually a rhyming couplet) was asked with a particular product as the answer. The team that correctly answered the question earned 10 seconds, as well as a chance for one team member to run into the market to retrieve the product, which was marked with the show's logo. If the product was returned within 30 seconds, the team won $50 towards their Sweep total. If the team member returned with the correct product, but was not marked with the Supermarket Sweep logo (changed to the show's "cart" emblem in 1993) on it, no bonus was awarded. However, if the contestant found the marked item but the marker fell off the product, the cash bonus still counted.
In Season 4, the bonus was doubled to $100 if the product was brought back within 20 seconds. In Season 5, a second Mini-Sweep was added at the beginning of the second round and was later used only during special weeks on the PAX version.
Prior to Season 5, if the contestant won either cash bonus, an oval-shaped tag stand displaying the amount was placed in front of the cart in the show's final segment when the moment of truth took effect.
For the final segment, the teammates switched after each question. The contestants were shown the scrambled letters of a brand name, common food, or item, and three clues were given for 10 seconds each. If no one buzzed in and then answered correctly after the last clue was given, all three clues were repeated quickly. On some episodes throughout the entire Lifetime era, an alternative format was used with five clues given and no scrambled name. The Round Robin originally consisted of four questions, but was lengthened to six in Fall 1990 to give all three teams a chance to earn up to 60 seconds (one minute). The maximum time available was 3:40.
The Sweep Quiz was used during the final PAX season. At the end of the second segment, a quickie was shown as the show took its second commercial break, which was a question that viewers at home can answer. At the start of the third segment, the answer would be shown.
A variant was used for the final Lifetime season, which was a simple fun fact. This was used on some episodes at the end of the first segment while taking the first commercial break.
Another variant was used in some episodes of Seasons 1-4 as well as early in season 5, where David asked a question to the home viewers at the end of the first segment before going to the first commercial break. At the start of the second segment, David gave the answer, occasionally making a joke afterward.
The "Big Sweep" was the chance for the teams to run throughout the aisles and to grab whatever they could off of the supermarket shelves. The clock was set to the highest time that was earned by the three teams. The runner for that team was sent out into the market, with the other runners entering when their time had remained on the clock. During the Big Sweep, the show's announcer provided the "play-by-play".
The runner could bring their cart back to the team's register at any time, at which point it was exchanged for an empty cart. Any items in the runner's cart when the bell rang were included in their total.
The three main rules for the Big Sweep were:
- The teams could only take up to five of each item.
- Any items dropped and/or upset had to be returned to the shelf or in one's cart, or incur a $25-per-item penalty. Teams were also penalized $25 for running into supermarket displays, cameramen or any other personnel.
- Only one member of each team could be in the store at a time; the other team member was required to remain at the checkout counter to unload the groceries (with the exception of the doing of some money makers [see below]).
The product limit, which was absent in the original ABC version of the show, was added to prevent teams from overloading their carts with expensive items, such as poultry, laundry detergent, or over-the-counter drugs.
In most episodes of the show's first season on Lifetime, costumed characters such as Frankenstein's Monster, a gorilla, or a creature named Mr. Yuck ran through the aisles during the Sweep. They are referred to as Weird Customers. If the character came near a contestant or vice versa, the contestant had to turn around and go in the other direction. The characters were dropped after the first season.
Many bonuses were available during the Big Sweep at different times during the show's run. Each contestant was only able to take one of each bonus type. Some of these included:
- Bonus Specials (Value: $50–$200, later up to $250; $100-$300 during the Twin Car Giveaway) - The only bonus feature to appear in every episode. Three jumbo-sized stuffed animals, giant inflated balloons of products, or cardboard promotional signs for products with bonus tags attached to them were scattered throughout the market. In order for the bonus to count, the runner had to bring the item back to the checkouts and over the red line (without destroying it or the tag) before the time expired. A runner was allowed to steal an opposing team's item if it was left unprotected before getting it to the checkouts. These over-sized products and/or signs were worth $50, $100, or $200. In September 1993, a fourth bonus worth $250 (dubbed the "Super Bonus") was added to the market. During the Twin Car Giveaway tournament at the start of Season 6, a $300 bonus (dubbed the "Super Super Bonus") replaced the $50 bonus. In all cases, only one bonus was allowed to a customer.
- Coffee (Value: $100, later $200) - Runners were required to grind a bag of coffee beans.
- Candy (Value: $100, later $200) - Runners were required to bag and weigh $1.00 worth of candy. Contestants can be off within two cents above or below $1.00, and the bonus was still earned.
Beginning with the introduction of the candy, both it and the coffee bonus were available to shoppers on each episode. This changed for Season 9 (the final season) to have only one or the other available for any particular Big Sweep. The item for that episode was announced at the start of the Big Sweep, and the bonus doubled to $200. Earlier, the candy was omitted from episodes that had the Jelly Belly money maker (see below), as Jelly Belly is a candy.
- Shopping List (Value: $250, later $300 for the Alphabet Game) - Before the Sweep, David gave a list of three products (originally four) in the market to be found. The Alphabet Game was played the same way, but with David mentioning three consecutive letters of the alphabet as well as the products beginning with those letters (the products had to be placed into mini-baskets that were located in the front of the carts to count, and only one of each item; multiple mini-baskets could be used if needed).
Other variations included the following:
- Magazine Display: Picking up three or four magazines that were listed by David, from the many titles to choose from.
- Jelly Belly Display: Bagging three flavors of Jelly Belly jelly beans that David wanted from the many flavors to choose from. This omitted the candy bonus to go along with the coffee, due to Jelly Belly being a candy.
- International Bread Center: Bagging certain quantities of three bread types that were listed by David, from the many bread types to choose from.
- Fruit Fantasy: Putting certain quantities of lemons, apples, oranges, and grapefruits into a fruit basket.
- Breakfast Break: Getting five breakfast items that David asked for with the help of their partners; all of these items had to be placed in mini-baskets; this was later changed to two breakfast items with David announcing over the loudspeaker during the sweep and then dropped completely.
- Instant Coupon Machines: Three instant coupon machines were located throughout the market, and the contestant would grab a coupon and find the item for that coupon, and finding all three items with these coupons won $250.
- Frozen Yogurt Machine: Dispensing three flavors of frozen yogurt into a plastic cup (and in a certain order), from the following four flavors: Triple Fudge Chocolate, Vanilla Bean Dream, Sweet Peachy Peach, and Berry Berry Raspberry.
- Decorate Your Own Cake (Value: $100) - Runners had to find a cake-designing kit in the back of the store and give it to their partner, who had to design a cake at one of three tables in the front of the store, and write the show's name and the team's number on the cake.
- TV Mystery Product (Value: $250, $300 for The $300 Movie) - Runners tried to find a product using clues displayed on three television monitors in the market. This bonus was later changed to the use of two television monitors in 2001, which allowed other money makers using the TV monitors, including Splitting the Name, with one half of a product's name on each of the two monitors, and The $300 Movie, in which David would say "Activate the TV monitors" over the loudspeaker during the sweep, and the clues would be available for the contestants, in which they would find a single copy of the movie. Originally, the monitors were touchscreen, but often a clue would take too long to appear, taking up a contestant's shopping time; so this was later changed to buttons placed below the monitors; a contestant can receive their clues simply by pushing the monitors' buttons, which also activate red lights surrounding the buttons.
- Manager's Special or Red Tag Special (Value: $200) - During the Sweep, Ruprecht announced the "Manager's Special" or the "Red Tag Special" of the day via the market's loudspeaker (later his announcements became pre-recorded, often reused). The contestant had to run to a red-and-white barrel at the front of the market for the Manager's Special or a shopping cart at the back of the market for the Red Tag Special that was filled with products and find the specially marked item (marked with a red star or a red X for the Manager's Special, a red tag for the Red Tag Special). An unmarked item awarded no bonus to the team, even if it was the correct product. Sometimes gags (such as a severed hand, a rubber chicken, etc.) would be put into those props for humor.
- Stack Job (Value: $100, later $150) - Runners had to find one of three bags filled with empty soda cans that were spread throughout the market and return the bag to their partner. Their partner then had to go to their table and, using all 21 cans, stack the empty soda cans in the shape of a pyramid as shown before the Sweep began. Getting the "Stack Job" done awarded the team a token good for the bonus.
- Recycling Center (Value: $100) - Three sacks containing 10 empty soda cans each were located throughout the market, and the runner would grab one sack and race it back to his/her partner. The partner then went to the machine and would crunch the cans, one at a time, and after crunching all 10 cans, a receipt was printed good for $100.
- Super Sandwich (Value: $200) - Before the Sweep began, the host specified a sandwich to make. Runners were required to make the sandwich precisely as described using ingredients set up on three tables; including five meats, two cheeses, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard; then wrap it in aluminum foil and seal it in a bag with a twist tie. To earn the bonus, the contestant had to use all the ingredients, and the sandwich had to be in their cart before the bell. A later version had the shoppers run to the International Bread Center to grab the bread called "Sandwich Loaves", and then the partners would make the sandwich. That version is also used even if the International Bread Center and Super Sandwich are available in the Big Sweep in the same episode.
- Sweep Swipe or Market Madness (Value: $200 for the Sweep Swipe; $250 for the Market Madness) - A limited supply of items (two cases of candy, five boxes of detergent, etc.) were placed in front of three tables or shopping carts, one for each of the three teams. Runners moved the items (from the floor or from another team's table or cart), one at a time, onto their own table or their cart. For each item in one's possession at the end of the bell, the team received a bonus (either $50 or $100 per item).
- CrackerJackpot! or Jolly Time Is Money! (Value: $100, later $150 for Jolly Time is Money!; $200 for the Cracker Jackpot) - Runners tore open boxes of Cracker Jack or Jolly Time Popcorn in order to find a token with the show's shopping cart logo on it.
- Bonus Envelope (Value: $200) - Halfway through the Sweep, the host announced a clue to a specific product. After hearing the clue, the partners at the checkout counter ran into the market to find their teammates and give them the clue. If the teammate points out the item to their partner, the money was lost. Runners had to find the product and take the bonus envelope that was located next to it. A variation, called the Video Envelope, was played where the envelope was attached to a video, and the contestant would grab the video with the envelope attached on the back.
- Giant Box of Laundry Detergent (Value: $25-$100 in $25 installments, later containing two each of $50 and $100) - A giant box of laundry detergent (Gain or Cheer) was located at the back of the store with four colored envelopes on it. The runner picked one of the envelopes and the money was added to the team's total.
- Balloon Pop (Value: $150) - Three shopping carts or large garbage bags filled with balloons were located in one of the back corners of the supermarket. Runners brought back one of the carts or bags to the checkouts for their partners to pop. Their partners had to pop all of the balloons before the time had expired. If so, they would receive a token worth $150.
- Double and Triple Coupons - Certain items had double-value or triple-value coupons located on or near the actual item that multiplied its value accordingly.
Once time was called, all products were scanned while the show took a final commercial break. Afterward, the grand totals of each team's takes were revealed. The team with the highest grand total, including bonuses from the question round, won their Sweep total in cash and the right to play in the Bonus Sweep. The other teams received parting gifts, including their sweatshirts. In early episodes of Season 1, the totals included cents. For the rest of the series, the totals were rounded off to the nearest dollar, with cents only coming into play if there was a tie.
- "Our official checkers have entered all of this merchandise into our registers and now the only thing left to do is hit the total button and find out who goes on to play for the $5,000!"
- ―David Ruprecht
The winning team was given 60 seconds to find three products in the market one at a time. The products were marked by the show's logo or emblem (just like the Mini-Sweep), and were numbered 1-3. They were given a clue to the first product, after which the time started. The second clue was affixed to the first product, and the third clue was on the second product. If the team found the third product, they won $5,000. Originally, finding just the product won the money; later on, a fan of play money was placed behind the product. If they found the final product before one of the other products, originally the team would automatically be disqualified, but after the first two seasons, the team that found the $5,000 too soon were just reminded to find all three products, then return to find the money. If the team was unsuccessful, the team still won $200 for each product found. The team had to have their hands on the money before the bell sounded. The record for the fastest win was 29 seconds, set in Season 2 in late 1990.
Clues had several formats in the series. Some clues were two-line rhymes describing the product, with its brand name as the final missing word in the rhyme. Other clues used a play on words of the product's title. Others had important words underlined. On occasion, clues led to a household item other than cleaners, a movie in the movie rack, a fruit or a vegetable in the produce section, a flower in a special kiosk located at the front of the market that was used only during the Bonus Sweep, or a greeting card near the magazine rack.
During both runs of the show, special tournaments were held periodically, as well as other individual shows in which former teams were invited back for a chance to win more money or a trip.
Twin Car GiveawayEdit
From September 5-30, 1994, at the beginning of the show's final season on Lifetime, a month-long Twin Car Giveaway tournament was held. During the first three weeks of the tournament, a standard game was played each day. The twelve teams with the highest Big Sweep totals from these episodes at the end of the third week returned for the fourth and final week, in which games were played with no Bonus Sweep. The six teams with the highest Big Sweep totals during that final week returned for the Friday show to play for a pair of Geo Trackers.
On the Friday show, the first three teams played an eight-question Round Robin game, where each correct answer was worth $50 towards their Sweep total. Each of the first three teams then had a flat three minutes in the Big Sweep. This process was repeated for the other three teams. At the end of the show, the team with the highest Big Sweep total won the two cars (a combined value of more than $25,000) in addition to whatever else that they won on their previous shows. All other teams kept their prior winnings. Team #1, James and Rick, won with a Big Sweep total of $1,598, and won a grand total of $28,710 (the highest grand total ever). A total of $84,562 in cash and prizes was won by the contestants over the four-week period.
Other Tournaments and SpecialsEdit
Occasionally, former teams were invited back to play for additional money or a trip. These consisted largely of "Sweeps of Champions" (later called "Second Chance Weeks"), which gave previous Big Sweep winners after they lost $5,000 on their first appearance a chance to go on another Bonus Sweep for the opportunity to play and get a second chance at $5,000. On a few early "Sweep of Champions" episodes, former players were invited back for a chance to double their money to $10,000. Others include:
- "Gourmet Week" - Allowed the teams to play for a trip to France.
- "You Can't Lose!" - Like the Sweep of Champions and Second Chance episodes, but no Bonus Sweep was played during this week. At the end of that week, one team was guaranteed to win $5,000 after they lost on their first appearance.
- "Double Your Money Week" - Similar to the few early "Sweeps of Champions" episodes from the Lifetime version, except in the PAX version the winning team with the highest Super Big Sweep total at the end on the final day didn't have to run around the market looking for another $5,000 as in early "Sweeps of Champions" episodes, they automatically doubled their money to $10,000.
- "Mother-Daughter Week" - Featured on the Lifetime run with mother-daughter teams competing, sometimes with children under the age of 18. The daughters played in the first half of the question rounds (trivia games) and the mothers (pricing games) in the second, and vice versa. In the Big Sweep, it was either all mothers running or all daughters, depending on the teams' decisions.
- "Family Week" - Similar to the Mother-Daughter Week in the Lifetime era (only with various family members), the Family Week in the PAX version had relative teams to win $5,000 at the end of the week. No Bonus Sweep was played in that week.
- "Cruise to Paradise" - Invited back 12 former teams who lost their Big Sweep to play for a 7-day Carnival Cruise for two (and two guests) to the Mexican Riviera. No Bonus Sweep was played at the end of that week.
- "Cruise Week" - Similar to the "Cruise to Paradise" week, except no Bonus Sweep was played throughout the entire week.
- "Tournament of Heroes" - Troop teams were to win the $5,000 at the end of the week. No Bonus Sweeps were played during this week.
- "Everything is Super!" - Special event were all products in the market were supersized versions!
The 1989 PilotEdit
The show is sort of a hybrid of both the 1965-1967 shows and the upcoming shows. For the question rounds, they had the old school pricing games featured on ABC. The time however was diminished to 10 seconds with an exact guess awarding double or 20 seconds. The fifth item allowed everybody to play and once again offered 15 seconds to the team with the closest guess, but if the team was within 10 cents of the answer, they get double of 30 seconds. In case of a tie in guesses, the tied teams each get the seconds. Now for the "buzz-in-to-answer" questions, correct answers still scored 10 seconds, but in this pilot, incorrect answers deducted 10 seconds. There was no Round Robin game.
At the Big Sweep, the teams can grab more than one bonus cash item which in the pilot were all shown at the outset. This makes a possible total of $350 for each team.
For the Bonus Sweep, the clues shared a common theme. The answers to the clues were never revealed on screen.
According to the website SignalEM, Raycom Media is currently developing a new version of Sweep called Superstore Sweep.
A board game based on the original ABC version was published by Milton Bradley in 1966. Played in two parts, players guess the price of grocery items during the game's first part and sweep through the supermarket represented by the gameboard during the game's second part. The player who accumulates the most points in cards during the sweep wins.
While Supermarket Sweep is most recognized for its Lifetime (1990s) and PAX (2000s) revivals, only the original ABC series tried a home conversion.
Video Slot MachineEdit
A five-reel Video Slot Machine based on the Lifetime/PAX version was released by WMS Gaming in 2004. In the game, the prize check symbol shows up during the shopping spree Free spin bonus round, all line wins will get prize checked up to 8X! In the Supermarket Sweep bonus, the show starts as players pick grocery items for awards. Finding hidden prizes advances the player to the next aisle for bigger awards and eventually to the last aisle where the hidden grand prize is waiting to award the big money.
- 1965: The Dave Brubeck Quartet/Score Productions
- 1990/1993: Christopher Rhyne
David Susskind: A Televised LifeEdit
In the Stephen Battaglio biography of producer David Susskind, a passage is provided to further expand upon the rich background that built upon a gameshow that would transcend its ephemeral roots and emerge as an iconic legend in television gameshow history:
- "Everyone in the meeting laughed. But it surely did not seem as funny when Susskind and Melnick bought an idea that was well out of the realm of the classy programs on which Talent Associates had built its reputation. An ad agency executive had told the partners about a soft-drink company promotion that had given contestants a chance to race through a supermarket while jamming as many items as possible in their shopping carts. Susskind and Melnick had veteran game-show producer Jeroe Schnur develop it into a program. Schnur was a highly cultured man and a talented live-TV director. Later in his career, he staged ballet performances for PBS and produced a special on the Sistine Chapel. But in 1965, he designed the program called Supermarket Sweep, "the show that lets you run wild in your supermarket." The game required contestants to play a game, not unlike The Price is Right, already popular at the time, in which they guessed the retail price of various products. The players were rewarded with minutes to race through supermarket aisles and accumulate items from the shelves. The player with the highest total value of items at the checkout counter was the winner. Unlike every other game show, Supermarket Sweep would not be in a studio, but on location in actual supermarkets. "We had a lot of jokes about it," said Ed Vane, and executive at ABC at the time. "But just imagine going to a different supermarket every week and trying to get the camera locations and everything. Technically it was a very difficult thing to do. Only true professionals could make it work."
- Vance had recently arrived from NBC to take on the unenviable job of head of daytime programming for ABC. Still a weak number three in the ratings at the time, ABC's daytime shows were not even carried in about 15 percent of the country. "That was a major handicap and we had to scramble and do all sorts of different exciting things to get sampled," Vane recalled. He also rememberd the advice he received from the man who gave him the job, ABC's president Tom Moore. "Now, remember, boy, in daytime we ain't improving the breed," he'd say in his Mississippi drawl. "Don't you bother your little head about quality or Peabody Awards. Just go get the money, kid." It was with those instuctions in mind that Vane bought Supermarket Sweep from Talent Associates. "Perhaps it was too literal a translation of Tom's guidance," he said, looking back.
- Schnur and the Talent Associates staffers assigned to the show needed to perfect the game format before ABC could put it on the air. "Little by little the format developed and we'd go out into real supermarkets and try it out," said Emily Perl Kinglsey, who worked on the series. "In those days supermarkets were not open on Sundays. We'd come in Saturday night and we had to rig the place. We had to hang lights, set up bleachers for the audience, and have all those cameras, and so on. It wasn't like it is today with all this handheld stuff. There was huge equipment." A game-show casting expert went out into the community to find what the producers called "happy worthies." Kingsley described them as "cheerful people who needed the food" given away on the show.
- The notion of people humiliating themselves on television for money and prizes was hardly novel in 1965. ABC had been running Queen for a Day, which started as a radio show back in the 1940s. Female contestants told sob stories before a studio audience about some pitiable life circumstance, such as caring for a physically or mentally disabled child, or having an out-of-work husband. And applause meter measuring the response determined the winner, who was crowned and showered with prizes. "The one who would go on to win Queen for a Day was the one who had the saddest story," said Bill Chastain, who was Schunur's longtime partner. "so it was not something that's totally foreign." But Supermarket Sweep was an optimistic glorification of consumerism set in the brightly lit shiny palaces where Americans celebrated it every day. "The only thing that makes Supermarket Sweep sort of impossible to believe was that it was the product of David Susskind and Dan Melnick," said Chastain.
- From the start, Susskind tried to distance himself from the show. Susskind was known for his ability to hold a room spellbound when he pitched a program proposal, but he was nowhere in sight when Schnur and Ashley Famous agent Sy Fischer first presented the concept for Supermarket Sweep to Vane at his ANC office. "Even in the first meeting there were some giggles to explain why he wasn't there," said Vane. "It just struck me as unusual that the head of a production company would sort of disown his presentation." Fischer wasn't surprised. "David Susskind would never admit to having food from a supermarket," he said.
- Campus remembered when Susskind journeyed out to a store in Paramus, New Jersey, to watch one of the early Supermarket Sweep tapings. "He was crushed," Campus recalled. "He was saying, 'I don't care if we close the place down, I can't do this.' He walked off to his car. I guess someone else was driving him. And he left because it was too much for him."
- After a few test shows, the producers decided that the average woman watching TV at home during the day didn't want to see herself portrayed as a crazed harridan scrambling through supermarket aisles. So the female contestants would play the pricing game and have male runners, either a relative or firned, race through the store for them. One runner in a test show had a heart attack. After that the runners had to be forty or under and have a note from a physician certifying they were healthy enough to participate. "The designated runner actually made it better because they were faster and greedier and there was more action," said Vane. "And when they collided - we always hoped they would - it made for good television."
- As the weeks passed, the producers worked the kinks out of the program during the trial runs. ABC executives knew they had a potential hit. In test showings held at movie theaters, Supermarket Sweep received the most enthusiastic reaction the network had ever seen for one of its daytime shows.
- But supermarket owners were put off by how the game disrupted their stores. Five weeks before Supermarket Sweep was scheduled to make its debut on ABC in December 1965, Talent Associates still didn't have a commitment from enough store chains to make a five-day-a-week show on location. Susskind, who was used to wooing the likes of Laurence Oliver and Ingrid Bergman for high-toned television specials, steeled himself to get on the telephone and use his persuasive powers to convince store executives to participate. So did Melnick. The survival of Talent Associates depended on it."
- "Melnick, Susskind, and Stern made the deal. Shortly afterward, Talent Associates finally got Supermarket Sweep up and running at ABC and it was an immediate sensation. Sweep tripled the size of the audience of the show it replaced. When the Allied Van Lines trucks arrived outside of a supermarket with the sets and technically equipment used to set up the game, overflow crowds showed up. Unlike Get Smart, Sweep was lucrative for Talent Associates as soon as it went on the air.
- While Supermarket Sweep saved Susskind's company, he made sure the press was aware that he was not involved in the show. "I have nothing to do with it," Susskind told TV Guide. "We have given it a home an provide necessary facilities to put it together. But that's all. These programs are produced by people who know and love them. But I couldn't get within a mile of it as a producer. I wouldn't know how." Susskind occasionally visited Schunr and Emily Perl Kingsley in the office they shared at Talent Associates. "Once a week David would sort of stick his head in the door sheepishly to find out how much money they'd made," said Chastain. "He was embarrassed about doing the show, but he loved the income.""
--"David Susskind: A Televised Life", pages 173-175; page 181
In popular cultureEdit
- An episode of Laverne & Shirley was named "Supermarket Sweep". The title characters were Slotnik's one millionth customers. The man behind the counter said that they won a free shopping spree in the supermarket. They had 3:00 to grab everything they could get their hands on and whatever stuff they had must be over the line to be won. The hilarious duo shop like crazy. As soon as they have a heap of stuff, they get tired and all they win are two items.
- On Late Night with David Letterman, Dave makes an appearance on Supermarket Sweep as one of his clips of the week. Dave coaches the shoppers while wearing an Ithaca sweatshirt and a whistle around his neck.
- On the Married...with Children two-parter "You Better Shop Around", Al & Peggy Bundy compete against a rival in a shopping spree in the supermarket in which the Bundys are seeking refuge due to a broken air conditioner.
- After Elmo watches a video about sleep on the popular Sesame Street ending segment, Elmo's World, there is a parody mentioned called "Supermarket Sleep".
- Nickelodeon Super Toy Run, a Nickelodeon kids' game in the 1990s hosted by Mike O'Malley, gave kids 5 minutes to grab everything, which would be toys, before time was up. This was a similar concept to Sweep but it was toy shopping at Toys R Us.
- The Red Tag Special prop was used in the set of GSN's 50 Greatest Game Shows of All Time.
The Honeymoon Race - Similar premise, except that it was taped in shopping malls across the country. This is the show which wound up replacing the original iteration of Supermarket Sweep in 1967.
Here is a list of countries that created their own version of Supermarket Sweep:
|Country||Local name||Host||Network||Years aired|
|Argentina||Sume y Lleve|| Doris del Valle and Emilio Disi|
Ana María Campoy and Daniel Castex
|Clink Caja||Beruga Carámbula||1996|
|Australia||Supermarket Sweep (Australia)||Ian Turpie||Nine Network||1992–1994|
|Brazil||SuperMarket (Brazil)||Ricardo Corte Real||Rede Bandeirantes|| 1990–1993|
|Canada - French||L'épicerie en folie||Christian Tétreault||TQS||1994-1995|
|Canada - English||Supermarket Sweep (Canada)||Tino Monte|| Broadcast syndication|
Global Television Network
|Chile||SuperMarket (Chile)|| Pablo Krögh|
Juan La Rivera
|Greece||Σούπερ Μάρκετ|| Pounentis Matt|
|Japan||Ikkaku senkin!||Kazuki Kosakai||Nippon TV||1991|
|Mexico||Arrasa con Todo con Kmart||Carlos Calderon and Carolina Delgado||Univision||February 7–August 13, 2011|
|Spain||Supermarket (Spain)||Enrique Simon||Antena 3||1992|
|Turkey||Süpermarket|| Erdinç Doğan|
| Kanal 6|
|Ukraine|| Шоy Шapa|
|United Kingdom|| Supermarket Sweep|
Dale's Supermarket Sweep
|Dale Winton||ITV Network|| 1993–2000|
- The Canadian version uses the same logo the American version used in the relaunch.
- The supermarket set built for the Canadian version of the show uses the same layout with small, minor differences.
- While the supermarket set built for the Canadian version of the show is similar to the American version, in the Canadian version, the Delicatessen is now renamed "Deli" and is in the middle of the back of the store, there is now a designated Dairy section, located to the left of the meat case.
- David Ruprecht's official website
- Official Pearson site for Supermarket Sweep (via Internet Archive)