Supermarket Sweep

From Academic Kids

Supermarket Sweep was a game show on the ABC Network from December 20 1965 to July 14 1967. Largely considered unsuccessful on ABC, it was revived by the Lifetime Television Network on February 5 1990, and ran until August 14 1998. It was further revived by PAX Network in September of 2000 and ran there until early 2004. It is believed that no new episodes were filmed from 1996 until its PAX revival.

Supermarket Sweep employed a revolutionary game show technique when it debuted in 1965 — contestants actually ran about a supermarket filling carts with food. Whichever team's grabbings had the highest value won.

In the original run, Supermarket Sweep aired in supermarkets across the country. At that time, however, the cameras were unwieldy to handle.

The host for the 1965-67 ABC version was Bill Malone; the announcers were Wally King from 1965-66, and Richard Hayes from 1966-67. The host for the 1990-98 and 2000-2004 versions was David Ruprecht; the announcer was Johnny Gilbert until 1998 and Randy West for the rest of the show's run.


Gameplay (1990)

The gameplay of the Lifetime/PAX run of Supermarket Sweep consisted of three segments: the question round, the Big Sweep and the Bonus Round. The game was played between three teams of two related individuals, such as a parent and child, spouses, siblings or best friends. No team was eliminated until the end of the Big Sweep.

Question round

At the beginning of the game, all three teams started with a "score" of one minute and thirty seconds. Any time they scored during this round was used in the Big Sweep. The question round was split into two sub-rounds. In later years, every sub-round began with a mini-sweep and the full round ended with a 6-question Round Robin.

In the mini-sweep, the first question was answered with a particular product, and one of the two members of the team that answered had to run into the main "store" to retrieve the product. If the product was returned within 20 seconds, that person's team received $100 in the Big Sweep; if within 30 seconds, that team received $50.

During each sub-round, different The Price Is Right-style games were played for additional time on one team's clock. After three of these games were played, one per team, the second sub-round was played. After the second sub-round, in the Round Robin, a jumbled brand name was shown on the screen, and five hints were given to identify the actual name. Each team that buzzed in and answered correctly received 10 seconds.

Big Sweep

The Big Sweep was the chance for the teams to run throughout the store and grab whatever they could off the supermarket shelves. The team with the most time in the question round went first, as a clock ticked away their seconds. When the other teams' times remained, they too were sent into the store. This could result in a situation where one team swept the question round and had a full minute, or more, to sweep the store by themselves.

The two main rules were that teams could only take five of each item and 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. The first rule, absent in the ABC version of the show, was written to prevent a team from overloading its cart on the known expensive items, such as poultry, laundry detergent and OTC drugs. Any item counted toward a team's total, as long as it was in the cart by the end of the run. The runner could bring the cart back to the team's register at any time, at which point it would be emptied while the runner took a second cart.

Many extra bonuses were available at different times during the show's run. Some of these include:

  • Oversized promotional inflatables, such as a blow-up Pepsi can or a Snap (of Rice Krispies) pool raft. Each item would have a sticker with BONUS printed on it, and a dollar amount ($50, $100, $150 or $250) printed on the other side. This would have to be at the register when time ran out.
  • A 3-item shopping list, given by Ruprecht before the run. Any team with all three items in their cart got an additional $250.
  • A coffee grinding station, or a bulk candy station. Being patient to grind the coffee or exact enough to grab exactly one pound of candy netted an additional $100.
  • A set of three monitors. Each monitor gives one word in the brand name of a product in the store. Any team with this item in their cart would win an additional $250.
  • A bag of aluminum cans. The shopping contestant would have to bring this back to his or her partner, who would then have to redeem them in an aluminum can recycling crusher for an extra $100.

In addition to this, the teams were penalized $25 for every item they dropped and did not pick up.

After all time had run out, all products were scanned, and the grand total of each team's efforts, including bonuses, was revealed. The winning team in this round was the final winner, and went on to the bonus round.

Bonus Round

In its 1990 reincarnation, Al Howard (also the original show's creator) added the Bonus Round, in which a team of two contestants would have 60 seconds to find $5000 in cash hidden somewhere in the supermarket. More than a blind hunt, they had to cooperate to solve a series of three clues ultimately leading to the prize, if they were fast.

A clue might be a poem, where the poem (possibly more accurately described as a jingle) describes a type of product and the brand name, blanked out, forms the main rhyme. An example might be "If you're sitting at home feeling all alone, have some chocolates from _______________", where the "chocolates" would hint at the fact that the next prize was in the candy aisle, and the rhyme would indicate that the specific product was Toblerone chocolate. Another clue might refer to a double meaning of a brand name; for example, it might refer to one's family having a tube of toothpaste on its coat of arms; the coat of arms might refer to a family crest, while the toothpaste would refer to the Crest brand of toothpaste.

The first clue was given by Ruprecht; the second clue was found on the first item, the third clue on the second item, and the $5000 prize on the third item. If the team did not find all three prizes (officially defined as the couple having their hands on the $5000 before time ran out), each item found was worth $200.

Miscellaneous info

The audience was present during the question round in the 1990 version, but no audience is present during the Big Sweep and Bonus Round. Audience applause tracks and camera shots of them before the show starts are used to create the illusion that an audience was present at all times during the show.

A syndicated Canadian version of the show was produced between 1992 and 1995, with Tino Monte as host and Dave King as announcer.

A British version of the show was produced between 1993 and 2000 with Dale Winton as host and Bobby Bragg as announcer.

An Australian version of the show was also produced between 1992 and 1994 with Ian Turpie as host and Col Mooney & Alan Glover as announcers.

One of the most famous parts of the show was the catchphrase Ruprecht recited at the end of every episode: "Next time you're at a checkout counter and you hear the beep — [a checkout counter beeps] — think of the fun YOU could have on Supermarket Sweep!"

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