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MonkeyWithTypewriter said on December 22nd, 2011 at 9:13 am

I’m an American who has had ketchup-flavored chips, and they are pretty good. Didn’t do well here, though…

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I’m a Canadian who hates ketchup-flavoured chips. But I love no-name.

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Savage Wombat said on December 22nd, 2011 at 9:50 am

Here in the US we actually went through a period of black-and-white labelled “generic” food way back in the late-seventies/early eighties or so.

No one else remembers this but me?

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Generic labels from Ralphs were featured pretty heavily (and iconically) in the 1984 Alex Cox classic Repo Man, so you’re probably not the only one to remember this. And apparently Randall’s never seen Repo Man or even thought to see if anyone ever could possibly have come up with his brilliant idea.

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Yeah, I remember those, Wombat. Searching on “generic food labels” showed me this page with pictures.

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Nice, I had no idea that ketchup chips were a real thing. I had assumed that Jon Lajoie made them up for his song “High as Fuck.” I wonder if there’s anywhere I can get them stateside (in Chicago ideally)….though, I must admit, ketchup chips don’t actually sound, you know, appealing so….maybe not…

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I too remember the US generic food labels. How old is Munroe? I’m guessing not very.

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Randall must not live near a Trader Joe’s, either.

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bunnyofdoom said on December 22nd, 2011 at 11:49 am

I worked for Loblaws for 8 goddamned years, so yeah, No Name was the first thing I thought of too when I saw it. That being said, yes their products are shite, some times. Sometimes, you’ll find a gem in and amongst them. Other times, they make for great mixers, especially with Rum. Of course, that’s just the soft drinks.

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If you’re willing to set foot in a Wal-Mart, Panzer, you can (sometimes, with no rhyme or reason as to when) find Herr’s Heinz Ketchup flavored potato chips. Their Texas Pete’s Hot Sauce flavored chips actually taste better, though.

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hilzoy fangirl said on December 22nd, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I’ll see your ketchup flavored potato chips and raise you. Just as there is nothing the internet can come up with that real life has not come up with already, there is nothing Canadians can come up with that Americans can’t ruin.

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Katherine Farmar said on December 22nd, 2011 at 12:36 pm

There was a supermarket in Ireland that had a generic plain-label own-brand known as “yellow pack” because of the bright yellow packaging. It looked very like the “No Name” packaging, actually, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they stole the idea from Loblaw’s. The term “yellow pack” came to be used as a general term for “cheap knock-off”, and now “yellow pack workers” is sometimes used to mean low-paid non-union workers. It’s one of those phrases I’d be reluctant to use outside Ireland, though, because even though it isn’t racist, it kind of sounds like it is.

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Speaking of Walmart, they went through a couple years of white labeling their house brands that they are just now pulling out of. So it isn’t like they can claim they just haven’t been out of the country recently.

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Charles Chips used to make a ketchup potato chip. It was delightful.

I’m old enough to remember long aisles of black and white packaging. I thought the same thing when I read xkcd: wow, Randall’s YOUNG.

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XKCD is at its best when sticking to re-distilling/re-hashing techie/science-y stuff. Think of it as a comic blog for whatever the guy’s reading about…

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You mean those boxes in Repo Man were real goods from supermarket shelves? Heh…

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FifthSurprise said on December 22nd, 2011 at 2:08 pm

All of this talk of Canada makes me want some poutine. Mmm mmm poutine.

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In Athens, Georgia in 1981-82 we got a new supermarket called Jewel-T that was all generic right down to the black and white packaging. Unfortunately it was mostly stuff that had not passed the name brand vendor’s quality checks, so even if the taste was ok, the color or texture or shape or size was off. The college newspaper once had a column with an extended riff on Jewel-T Potted Meat Product, a name that is to this day synonymous in my mind with awful foodstuffs.

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I love ketchup chips like you wouldn’t believe, though I don’t think I’ve tried the No Name version. Hmmm.

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people also want hawkins cheesies (aka real cheesies, not cheese puffs) – only for sale in canada

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Ketchup chips are a Canadian thing?

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Yep, Savage Wombat is correct and we had our “generics” phase in supermarkets quite some years ago. It was so prevalent, Marvel even released a one-shot Generic Comic Book in 1984 (!) with a plain black and white cover.The only thing I didn’t like about it was that Lee Marrs drew it and her art style in no way suited for generic superhero comics. But then I guess they couldn’t just grab one of their own existing journeyman artists without it sounding like an insult, could they?

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Zurn: Yes, most of those labels in “Repo Man” were real. However, Alex Cox went the extra mile with the cans that were just labeled “Food.”

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Down here in Australia, we have had generic or “No Name” types of foods since I was a kid. They are essentially the same products as the name brands (in most cases they come out of the same warehouses) but in plain packaging and are usually cheaper.

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Yeah, I recall the yellow label generic products in stores in the late 70s and early 80s. Haven’t seen them since though, as they quickly got a reputation as awful crap.

These days we see a lot of store brands that are made in the same facilities as the name brands and just have different labels. (and are cheaper.)

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AnodyneGhost said on December 22nd, 2011 at 10:10 pm

What kills me about the strip the most is the fact that Randall is not only Canadian, but from Ontario. I’m amazed he didn’t think of the no name brand when he made the strip considering how prevalent it is. There’s a convenience store near my house that carries all kinds of their products and they aren’t even affiliated with the loblaws corporation in any way, and they aren’t the only non loblaws store I’ve found that carries their products in some form.

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AnodyneGhost, Randall Munroe is from Easton, Pennsylvania.

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What I find funny is that Randall Monroe would market groceries with the exact same lack of effort he used to create XKCD. Black and white, minimal detail, devoid of innovation.

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MonkeyWithTypewriter said on December 23rd, 2011 at 7:37 am

Mmm, sausage pizza chips…..

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If not for this discussion, I might have stared at that XKCD page for an hour or more trying to figure out what it was supposed to mean. As with most of those who’ve posted already, I grew up with white boxes and black block lettering. The only thing about the picture that stood out to me was how disorganized the shelves seem to be. Tissues, bread, and ketchup in the same aisle?

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HonestObserver said on December 24th, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Just goes to show that Randall Munroe is a fucking hack.

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I really like the No Name sour cream & onion rings. I’ve never really seen any other brand of those as far as I can recall.

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I, too, remember white package/black block print generics in Iowa, particularly HyVee, in the mid-80s. I’m sure they were/still are elsewhere, too, but I haven’t seen them more recently. Then again, I haven’t been looking.

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@Panzer: Do they sell Old Dutch chips where you shop? I know I’ve seen the ketchup chips in the Twin Cities.

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Re:Savage Wombat. I remember this as well. They even had generic beer, which was the most godawful swill every canned.

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I remember generic packaging in the US in the 70s and 80s as well. That was before every supermarket developed their own brand, and branding, of generic goods.

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