Shoppers in Houston, Texas, stock up on water and other supplies in preparation for Hurricane Rita, which struck the region in 2005.

Photograph by Ed Edahl, courtesy FEMA
  • On August 4, 1930, the world’s first supermarket, King Kullen, opened in Jamaica, Queens, New York City. The supermarket was different from the old-style grocery store. The supermarket offered thousands of products under one roof, with different departments for produce, meat, baked goods and other traditional grocery items. High volume allowed supermarkets to offer steep discounts to consumers.

    The supermarket’s popularity is often tied to two other icons of 20th century consumerism: cars and refrigerators. By 1930, more people owned cars than ever before. This allowed them to purchase many groceries at one time. Cars also allowed people to get to a central location. This meant that a store could stock more food, as they had more customers to buy those products. At home, people had refrigerators to keep all their food fresh for more than a few days.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    consumer Noun

    organism on the food chain that depends on autotrophs (producers) or other consumers for food, nutrition, and energy.

    grocery Noun

    food or other goods sold at a general store.

    produce Noun

    agricultural products such as vegetables and fruits.

    purchase Verb

    to buy.