#257 Eating a free sample of something you have no intention of buying

Why hello, little cup of strawberry-banana punch. How you doing, pepper-dill crackers? Don’t mind if I do, spicy salami wrapped around a piece of melon.

Yes, eating a free sample of something you have no intention of buying is a great way to stay on top of what’s happening at the grocery store. You swish the new drink, chew the new gum, toss back a tiny cup of the new pasta dinner, and introduce your tastebuds to a little surprise.

Assuming you don’t actually like the product, maybe you do what I do and pretend you’re going to buy it anyway so you don’t hurt the sweet, heavily lipsticked Sample Lady’s feeling. So you pick up the box of dry crackers, salty salami, or all-noodle-no-cheese lasagna and say, “Hmmm. $4.29? Not bad, not bad. And I get a fifty-cents-off coupon too? Hmmm.” Then you smile back at her, toss it in your cart, and say, “Why not! Thank you very much!”

Then you roll out of sight and guiltily drop it in another aisle.


The Book of (Even More) Awesome comes out tomorrow in the US!

— Email message —

“I am an elementary teacher and it’s my job to teach the curriculum but it is my honour to also encourage values, life skills and positivity in my students. After reading The Book of Awesome I shared the ideas in your book with my Grade 4 class. Each student then recorded their own awesome things for our class bulletin board. Here are some of them:  Water balloon fights. Water gun fights. Biting a water balloon. Having a computer. Basketball and wildlife. When you’re in the airport or on the plane. I love when the birds sing. Having a nightmare and waking up to find something awesome (e.g. it’s your birthday). TV and my puppies. Going on the Bohemith. Playing melon tag with root beer. The smell of sunflowers. Playing paint ball. Laughing so hard your stomach aches as you roll on the floor and try to breathe.” – Miss Vacrinos & 29 Grade 4 students

Photo from: here

54 thoughts on “#257 Eating a free sample of something you have no intention of buying

  1. I actually try to plan my shopping trip around WHEN the free sample people are out. It’s especially good when it’s early and the samples coffee or if it’s hot and it’s some type of ice treat! Now if only I could perfect the “pretending” to buy the sample trick instead of really buying it :(

    P.S. Now I gotta find out what happens when you bite a water balloon ?!?

  2. I really hate to rain on the awesome, but I’d like to represent the wage earners charged amongst their duties with cleaning up after grocery store customers. Daily, I deal indirectly with countless people being–in varying degrees–very slightly inconsiderate, manifest in the variety of abandoned items found throughout the store.

    It all adds up.

    1. Agreed. The worst is when you see used free sample cups scattered throughout the store or left in cards. There’s usually a trash can right next to the sample-offerer—use it! People complain about the price of things, yet they justify leaving messes because “it’s someone’s job to clean it up.”

      You know what’s awesome? Courtesy!

      Oh, and free samples. :)

    2. I concur. Not so awesome behavior to dump merchandise in other parts of the store. I’m always returning things to the checkers in misplaced spots — usually items that are supposed to be kept refrigerated or frozen, and who knows how long they’ve been out. Not so awesome. Really, really not.

  3. It’s very funny, everybody ready taste those sample piece..
    If u give free anything, all r ready to take come forward immediately

  4. Haha. It’s my kids’ favorite pastime when we go shopping. As soon as we get to Costco, they go running off to get all the food samples, and then hang out at the book section for the rest of the time, which we also don’t generally buy much of.

  5. I did this today! What perfect timing! I have always wanted to get a free sample of wine at the grocery store and have wated 21 loooong years. Best free thimble of wine ever :)

    1. I remember once I stopped at a local liquor store to buy a bottle of wine for my roommate “grudgingly” cause I was closer to it than her. And surprise surprise, they were having a desert and wine tasting, best free samples ever indeed!

      1. I also once got a free sample of baileys + baileys chocolate at an airport while looking through a duty free shop

          1. Free sample of booze in the picture above! Cass is a kind of Korean beer. I wonder why the children in this picture seem so enthusiastic to have some…

      1. The jelly belly factory also gives you a bag of mixed jelly beans for free PLUS you get to try all the flavors at their shop (even the gross-tasting Harry Potter ones.)

        Awesome! :)

    1. Obviously, idonthaveaname, you are not so hot with definitions.
      Someone voluntarily GIVES you a sample, in the hopes you will say, “This is awesome! I need this in my life!”. That is not theft, regardless of whether or not you buy yhr product.
      These companies have been doing it for years, they know what they are doing. They know most people will not buy the product, but if they can build some awareness and pull a few long-term repeat customers, they have done their job.
      Theft is when you open a box of crackers off the shelf and start munching.
      See how that works?

  6. Most of the grocery stores in my area quit doing the free samples. Walmart does is occasionally, but I remember as a kid loving to go up and get one of the little cups or little plates of samples.
    The mall here, up in the food court, some of the restaurants have people stand out in the middle of the way with a tray in one hand and something on a toothpick in the other hand. They’ll stand in your way and shove the food toward you trying to get you to take it. Sometimes I’ll try the food. I’m just a little weary of mall food anyway.

  7. Our local Sam’s club always has these local fudgemakers come around the holidays to give samples and sell fudge. They stand behind a glass case and you tell them which flavors (usually out of six) you want to try. Really, I don’t think anyone buys the fudge, but there sure is a long line for samples when they come around!

    1. Hey I also wanted to point that out. In the picture, the sample lady is giving beer samples to kids???

  8. Oh yes! You should head to Central Market. I swear they have so many varieties and such an incredible taste that too from all over the world. I feel this is the best way to taste and buy wine otherwise we’ll restrict ourselves to known ones.

  9. Good food, Good God, it’s FREE, let’s eat!
    Barbara Coloroso quotes:
    “Look to the children, they are our future.”
    ~there’s more hope, faith and light when we learn there are teacher’s such as Miss Vacrino sharing the principles of the Awesome paradigm. Cheers!!!

  10. Good food, Good God, it’s FREE, Let’s Eat!!!

    Barbara Coloroso quote:
    “Look to the children for they are our future.”
    Cheers to teachers such as Miss Vacrinos, for sharing the principles of the Awesome paradigm with her students…maybe one day all schools will incorporate, “And the world will be a better place,” (Jackie DeShannon).
    Love the students comments;Miss Vacrinos, you set an Awesome example!

    1. Here’s the thing I didn’t learn to subscribe until PEAS on fork; the “trip” with Magda taught me. Some fell on the wayside and I’m just trying to piack them all up before “it’s all over but the piano player”, :)

  11. Dad and I used to make a meal of free samples at Costco, so many Saturday morning memories :) I used to feel bad, like i was taking food away from someone else or wasting it, so I would just share a sample with my dad or sister. The food-hander-outer would always laugh at me, and make sure I got my own taste, and assure me that the food was there for everyone to have – even me. Awesome :)

  12. Love that the first picture is giving out Cass Red, which is a korean beer with a higher than normal alcohol content. not only giving out samples in the grocery store but also to children. Now that is AWESOME!

  13. When I was in college, I received a Costco gift card. You don’t need to be a member to use it. I ran the balance down to about 10 cents, so they didn’t revoke it at the end of the transaction like they do when it gets to zero, so I would use it when I was really broke to get back into the store and have a lunch of free samples. I’d feel guilty about it, except that I actually am a member now and spend way more than I should at that place.

  14. I was one of those sample ladies once. What few people know is that they get “performance reviews” based on only on the additional product sold but also on HOW MUCH THEY GIVE AWAY. So sample all you want! I was at a dead store so after a couple kids came by, all big-eyed, wanted 2nd samples of Hawaiian punch, I gave them a can each – so long as they promised to return the empties (they’re counted). Awesome for them – awesome for me!!

    1. leendadll: That was probably awhile ago. All I know is, at least where I live, the sample people are also assessed by how much the sales of that product increase. No increase in sales means that either that person will be fired or the samples at that store will discontinue (which is essentially the same thing).

  15. Oh this one made me smile. My oldest son LOVES the samples especially at warehouse stores like Sam’s Club. He insists on sitting inside the cart even though he is crammed in there (he is 8), lines the bottom w/ napkins and has what he calls a “cart picnic”. He revels in sample day. The old ladies who hand them out just love his enthusiasm too and end up giving him extras LOL. Bonus for me? I dont have to fix him lunch that day then. :)

  16. The Cherry Republic in Traverse City, Michigan gives the absolute BEST free samples EVAH!! They’ve got stands where you can spoon out chocolate covered raisins, blueberries, cherries, or peanuts & other sweets like cherry sours and cinnamon coated almonds. They don’t even monitor how much you take! They’ve also got all sorts of spreads and jams to go with free crackers & and small cups of coffee. Love me some Cherry Republic!

  17. This is truly awesome! I don’t usually pick up the product and drop it at the other side..maybe I should try to do that. What I usually do – especially when it’s free samples of chocolate is tell the salesperson “I’m going to go get someone” …so I go get my brother or mom, and grab another free sample for myself while they’re trying it out too.

  18. There’s some AMAZING energy chocolate apple cider (crazy flavor right?) at this store called Earth Fare, and I have it every time. Thing is, I’m actually really tempted to buy it now. SOOOO! haha, free samples with no intention of buying don’t always remain free! But they are definitely AWESOME either way!

  19. Neil, I absolutely love that you included a photo of a sampling lady from South Korea in this post! I taught in Korea last year, which is where I discovered this website. (I actually told you that in Chapters in downtown Ottawa, when you surprised shoppers by just showing up unexpectedly and signing books– Awesome!) Anyhow, those sample ladies are in every major grocery store in Korea and they’re there *all* the time. It’s very, very awesome indeed.

  20. Oh my gosh, this made me laugh so hard. I do this all the time. I casually wander the store scoping for samples and hitting up as many booths as I can. While I am standing there though, I start feeling kind of bad for taking advantage of the poor old lady serving the tasty treats. This is about the time I start to enthusiastically inquire about the product, feigning interest in it and putting it in my cart before wheeling away and nonchalantly ditching the unwanted item around the corner once I am out of sight.

  21. I’m not all about the free samples at Costco!, but I have tried a few things I had no intentions on buying, just to see if I like it. It’s proved Well, as I have tried a few things then later bought it! Then I come home and try to find a coupon for it, so I can shop for it a bit more often:)

  22. hahahah excellent article! I always do that.Sometimes I even double dip :) take 1 free sample, then do buy something than come back and do as if I just noticed theses free samples and take another one :)
    Don’t you love costco for that?

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