Next Time You Hear The Beep, It Might Be A Canadian Game Show

A month ago, I watched a snippet on Facebook of Family Feud.

A contestant stood beside Steve Harvey, and he watched in horror as his family lost by two points at the end of the show.

It’s simple to say, really? Name an animal that gallops and you said giraffe? But that’s an arm chair game show watcher. The person at home isn’t under pressure. The person on television knows clock is ticking.

For example, does anyone remember that early-1990s beep?

It could only be … Supermarket Sweep!

The Canadian version of the Price is Right. Even though, Supermarket Sweep originated from the United States. Minor deal.

My television selections were comprised of five channels, six on a clear day – and two stations were the same. Those who survived Farmer Vision will remember the slider on the back of our televisions. And maybe the what stations were on channels 2 and 6, and channels 5 and 7. Good times.

When I was in college, after a spur of the moment visit from the parents, I collapsed on the couch and miracle of miracles, Supermarket Sweep was on!

Oh, the massive hair, those massive glasses, the massive memories!

My older sister Jennifer and I used to watch Supermarket Sweep whenever we had the chance. I remember she wrote a letter to compete on the Sweep with mom, but I don’t know if it was ever sent.

Supermarket Sweep branched from the US to Canada in 1992, and the show ran until 1995. With ten-times less the budget and ten-times worse prizes – the Canadian version spewed of Kraft Macaroni and Canadian cheddar. The Canadian host was the adorable, single-dimpled, ever-smiling Tino Monté, who would probably grin though a toenail extraction.

Supermarket Sweep chose three teams from the audience. You attended the studio audience with a partner and each team was given a food product. Announcer, Dave King, would say, “Who has the Nabob coffee?” Congratulations. Here’s your geeky Supermarket Sweep fanny pack. Plus matching team sweaters! Colour choices included faded ocean blue; double-squeezed lemon; barely violet; and baby, baby pink.

The main point: you and your partner could win “fabulous prizes.”

The gist: garner as much shopping time as possible for “The Big Sweep” at the end of the game show. The Big Sweep caused chaos. Mayhem. Contestants lost their minds, racing around the store, like a Sunday shopper with two minutes before closing time.

Teams were asked skill testing questions or needed to finish off famous jingles: “The San Francisco ________.” (Treat). They’d win increments of ten-seconds for word scrambles such as vaxje (Javex).

Sometimes when a team answered right, they’d have the chance at an in-store scavenger hunt. On a time limit, they’d frantically search for the specially marked container of Imperial Margarine or Tang. But most of the time it was Voortman cookies. Actually, it was almost always Voortman cookies!

After two commercial breaks, it was time for the Big Sweep!

Three teams would line up with shopping carts, raring to enter the makeshift store. Complete with humongous cuts of meat, watermelons, and canned oysters. During the Big Sweep, partners traded off when – and if – their cart was overflowing.

Plus, the team with the highest amount of time enter the faux store first. The intent? Utilize their time wisely. But the best was watching the craziness of three people dashing around a those four of five aisle. Losing their minds, loading up on Obus Form and Butcher’s Blend while bashing into their competitors’ carts.

Plus, they were searching for three bonus items. Vitamins. Nabob Coffee. Canned beef. And, yes, Voortman Cookies. What was with Voortman Cookies in the 1990s?

Then the bill would be tallied. Oh, the anticipation. Who won the fabulous prizes of Samsung Luggage and an Obus Form back support cushion. No, they didn’t get to keep the items in their cart. I’m guessing they were the Nickelback lyric “so far” away from their expiration date.

If your team had the largest bill? Rejoice! You went onto another phase of the competition where you could win a more fabulous prize! A vacation to Cuba, a Bulova watch, or Samsung Luggage. If you didn’t win Supermarket Sweep, luggage was the consolation prize. How much luggage did Samsung produce?

The winning team worked together for Fabulous Prizes. The mission? Find three items in the store. Monté would send the team on their fanny pack wearing way with the first clue. Did anyone know what was in those packs? Regardless, once the team found the product, they’d find another clue. Tick, tick, you’re losing time! Find the next product!

While most contestants didn’t win those awesome trips, the ones who did lost their minds. Jumping up and down. Crying. Screaming.

It was comparable to contestants on the Price is Right when they learn they’re playing Plinko. They’re just excited to play Plinko.

At the end of Supermarket Sweep, all the teams would come out and wave. It was sort of creepy. And awkward. They just stood there. Waving. At the studio and television audience.

I would’ve loved to be on Supermarket Sweep. The arm chair game show statement is the questions didn’t seem difficult. I’d often yell at the television, “Purina! Purina!” or “Folgers! In your cup! Folgers!”

Similar to the woman on Family Feud Canada who said “Chicken” was Popeye’s favourite food rather than spinach. Out of 100 people surveyed, 52 answered spinach. She was thinking Popeye’s Restaurant. But, I’m curious what the other 48 people said since it was almost a 50/50 split.

Ah, Canadian game shows. Gotta love them.

But I do miss hearing that beep though.