Sample questions answered

But first, a quick(ish) rundown of today’s food!

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Since I’m rich with eggs right now (to say the least), I whipped one french-toast-style with soymilk, cinnamon, and vanilla and cooked it in a canola’d pan like a crepe. That became the base of my breakfast rainbow.

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Next up, I had 1/3 cup of prune groatmeal left last night, so I mixed it with 1/4 cup BRM Extra Thick Oats and a chopped Hershey’s Kiss, flattened it to rest in the fridge overnight, and came out with a breakfast cookie this morning. That went on top of the egg.

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Third was a thick layer of pumpkin cream cheese icing. Fourth was a half cup or so of fruit salad. Finally, my last tbsp of sunflower seed butter plopped itself right on top with a sprinkling of unsweetened coconut.

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Pre-breakfast, I did 10 reps of this excellent inchworm exercise that Olga recommended to me to help with my leg drama. I loved it! I also did *most* of the 20-minute Morning Flow #1 class from yogadownload.com. I have so much trouble sticking with it once I get to the lying down part at the end! The to-do list starts racing through my mind, and I have to get up and move. Thursdays are my usual run outside days, but my glute/groin issue was giving me grief yesterday. It’s been a month since I injured it, and the pain is still not all the way gone, so I decided to stop pushing the running when it hurts. Hopefully, it just needs some rest.

I had to head up to Hunter early today for a child abuse workshop, so between that, class, and group advisement, I was up there pretty much all afternoon. And I was so munchy that I had eaten all my lunch and snacks by 11! I began with an orange and an apple banana just after the workshop started at 9:

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An hour or so into the workshop, I pulled out my 1/2 cup fresh yogurt mixed with the last 1/2 cup fruit salad and sprinkled with golean crunch.

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In the 30 seconds between the workshop and class, I heated my mushroom agnostuff and promptly ate it at the start of class, thereby putting myself significantly ahead of food schedule (the only schedule I can follow, apparently) by eating lunch at 11 am:

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A Kraft LiveActive chocolate raspberry bar (I was in a rush packing this morning!) quickly followed the ravioli:

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And that was the end of the food I had packed, the horror! And I still had four more hours before home, yikes. Luckily, I was pretty satisfied after all of that … except that I kept thinking about Tasti-D. As class went on and on about brief treatment interventions, my mind was screaming: tasti-d tasti-d tasti-d tasti-d! I downed an entire roll of Newman’s Own Organics peppermints in my restlessness.

The moment advisement ended at 2, I beelined straight to 86th St. to answer the call. The sample gods were watching because a tasti-d girl had just come out with tray full of them! I grabbed a peanut butter fudge taste:

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And then ordered a small peanut butter fudge and cake batter swirl with rainbow and chocolate sprinkles:

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Not only was the spot hit; it was obliterated 😀

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A lesson in SAMPLING

Speaking of samples, you all seem quite curious about my sampling, errr, “habit.” How do I get stores to give me samples? Do I make up stories about how much I’ve always wanted to try a certain food? Do I pretend I’m in the market to buy? How do I transport the samples out of the store?

It’s really not nearly so complicated!

Years of hunting down food in the city have clued me in to the locations that typically have samples out for the taking. I operate on the belief that, if a store has put samples out, they are for eating. I generally don’t ask to taste things that are not already displayed as samples (unless I’m in an ice cream store where flavor perfection is critical).

Some of you seem to feel a sort of moral hesitance to sample foods if you are not planning to buy them. Frankly, I never sample with intention to buy (unless, again, I am in an ice cream store). The stores that typically have samples available — around me, it’s Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Union Market, Butterfield Market, Citarella, among others — are out of my food budget range. One of the few perks of living in NYC, I suppose, is the plethora of teeny gourmet food shops; if you live here, you can undoubtedly identify one of these stores at a glance and walk in pretty confident with your knowledge that there will be a pile of fancy cheese and toothpicks waiting, if nothing else.

As much as I love samples, however, they can be dangerous. If I hit one of these stores at the right time, I could eat an entire meal’s worth of food (or more) just by browsing the aisles. For this reason, I transport samples out of the store whenever possible. Eating samples as part of a meal, rather than absentmindedly on-the-go, increases satisfaction tremendously. As much as I would love to whip out my tupperware containers and start filling them with samples, however, even I have to draw the line somewhere and use my best judgment to determine whether that is appropriate (and sometimes it is). I don’t want to get myself blacklisted!

In the case of cheese samples, I do get a bit crazily schemy. For example, you may have noticed that every Monday night, I stop into Butterfield Market on the way to class to pick up manchego cheese samples as a dinner supplement. I generally have an empty snack baggie somewhere in my possession left from lunch, and I put that in my coat pocket. I walk into the store, stab a few cubes of cheese with a toothpick, and stroll through the rest of the store considering “potential purchases” while I deposit the cheese into the baggied pocket. On the way out of the store, I grab one more toothpick and do the same.

The rest of the time, however, I just gather the samples in my hand in the little plastic sample cups where they usually reside and walk out of the store with them. If it’s not a messy thing, I slip the cup into my pocket to free up my hands, but I don’t try to hide it. Occasional squishing may occur, but I’m not one to turn down food due to shape disruption.

The bottom line is that samples are for sampling, and you’re under no obligation to purchase if you decide to partake. Chances are, none of the staff in the store will even notice or care that you’re taking samples; if they do, they’ll be thrilled that their marketing strategy appears to be working. And if they’re grumpy or rude, they’re obviously unhappy in their line of work, and it has nothing to do with you. Sample away!

What is your moral stance on food sampling? Have you ever gotten negative feedback from a store employee regarding said sampling?


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26 thoughts on “Sample questions answered

  1. Christina says:

    I say samples are for sampling and there should be no guilt about taking them. Though I tend to pass over them because you’re right, those little samples could turn into enough calories to be considered a meal!

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  2. Erin says:

    I have no problem with sampling, and do when the opportunity arises. However, it rarely does, being where I live! I do enjoy your sampling meals. You are amazing at it.

    I want to try Tasti-D’s. I’ve never seen one!

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  3. Alison says:

    That Tasti-D looks unbelievable.

    I am a big sampler. I agree that it’s dangerous. I often overeat at grocery stores on weekends because of it. But I have no moral problem with sampling w/o the intention to buy. Why? Because often the only reason I go in that store is because I know they have samples. And while I may not intend to buy, I sometimes do. See’s Candies is a good example. They always give samples. I am much more likely to go in their store and buy chocolate than I am at stores that never or rarely offer samples. Even though most of the time, I don’t buy anything when I go in there.

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  4. katecooks says:

    we have so much froyo out here that i love but i still want to try tasti-d! by the way!!!! just looked over at the foodie blogroll and YOU my dear are one of today’s random blogs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! coolio!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  5. Krista says:

    I def sample when I get the chance. Sometimes I even end up buying what I sample!!! My kids are also BIG fans of samples. You’d think I starve the bugger’s if you saw them in action! 🙂

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  6. brandi says:

    ooh, i need some tasti-d!

    i love your sampling. they put them out to be eaten, so you might as well.

    we don’t have many places here that give out samples 😦

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  7. coco says:

    great tips to sampling! I think I had some moral hesitance about sampling if I don’t plan to buy it, but after reading this post, I might change that! 😀

    and thanks for the sweet comment in you left in my blog…. I brought me a big smile! 🙂

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  8. marie says:

    I LOVE sampling! It’s one of the best things about shopping at WF and Sam’s Club. I sometimes sample stuff I know I won’t buy, but I’ve also been persuaded to buy some stuff after trying it. And yes, I believe that the samples are there for the eatin’!

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  9. Sweetie Pie says:

    I love sampling, and I love that you have strategies! I nibbled a couple of samples of some cinnamon twist thing while waiting for the bakery man to box up my cannoli on Sunday, and, since I had more than one, I was definitely treating it more like a snack they had provided for me than a serious potential purchase sample. Why not!

    I have to say that your breakfast left me in awe. It’s beautiful and it sounds delicious! Love it!

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  10. Kimberly says:

    Just to play devil’s advocate — sampling is excellent, but I used to work at Trader Joe’s, so I know that cooking and assembling an entire plate of samples takes some time! So please, folks, enjoy the tasty delights, but leave enough so that the poor sample lady isn’t left hysterically trying to keep up with the swarming masses 😉

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  11. sue says:

    Sampling is the best! I love going to Whole Foods right before holidays- they always have the best samples and you really can make a meal out of it 🙂

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  12. Lara (Thinspired) says:

    Thanks for the sampling tips 🙂 I admit that sometimes I am hesitant to do it but you’re right…that’s what they are there for!
    Anything with the words “cake batter” in the name and I’m sold. But people behind the fro-yo counter always want to kill me for asking for so many samples before I decide. When I know I’m buying it, I want to get it right!

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  13. Ashley says:

    Talk about inspiring. Your breakfast rainbow puts my attempts at breakfast creativity to shame. Shame, I tell you! Absolutely beautiful! And tasty as well, I would imagine!

    Your icecream looks wonderful too. Sprinkles are amazing.

    I didn’t realise there was controversy over sampling? If there is a sample to be had, I will have it. I rarely purchase whatever it is I sample. But then again, I’m a struggling student so anywhere I can get a freebie, I’m there!

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  14. Susan says:

    I’m all for sampling!!! Maybe it’s because I spent years sampling food and drink when I worked at Starbucks. We all knew that most people just wanted the free stuff with no intention to buy. I just don’t think the people doing the sampling are naive enough to think that everyone who grabs a freebie is a serious customer. It’s all about introducing people to your product, and then maybe someday they’ll put that product knowledge to use and buy it 🙂

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  15. carolinebee says:

    OMG tasti-d is on my list 😀 I am A OK with the sampling!! I have the same policy at bristol farms, a really nice market near my house- i don’t transport them, just messiness/lack of pockets…but i stop at like 3 or four for a perfect afternoon snack sesh! No pics though ;D

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