Updated on 09.10.08

The Aldi Question: Does One Bad Experience Spoil the Soup?

Trent Hamm

Whenever I mention the grocery stores where I tend to shop, someone always asks me about Aldi. I tend to usually avoid that question because the answer makes me uncomfortable, but after several emails following my post yesterday about personal finance recommendations, I realized that it was actually a subject worth digging into.

I don’t shop at Aldi because I’m personally uncomfortable with the chain as a result of a bad experience when I was young.

When I was a young child, my family used to shop at Aldi somewhat regularly, usually just to buy certain items that complemented our purchases elsewhere. I remember going there and not minding the trip at all – in fact, I would usually help my parents by going around the store and picking out specific items that they wanted. “Trent, I need two loaves of white bread,” for example.

One day, something horrible happened. My mother was looking at a stack of floor mats. I was standing right next to her minding my own business when suddenly she shouted and backed up rapidly, bumping me to the side. When I looked over at the mats, there was a horde of cockroaches coming out of the pile of floor mats. Hundreds of them.

We immediately abandoned our cart and ran straight for the exit, then out to the car. I had squashed two of them under my shoe and I felt very uncomfortable all day. For the next several nights, I had nightmares about the incident.

As a result of that experience, every time I see an Aldi logo, I feel nervous. I basically refuse to go in the door because when I do, I feel really, really uncomfortable.

One strong negative experience has shaded my feelings towards Aldi for life.

I have visited the local Aldi and found it relatively clean, but during the entire visit, I had a strong desire to just leave the store. I constantly have a sense that if I touch anything in the store, bugs will start crawling out from underneath them.

This personal sentiment prevents me from truly giving Aldi a fair shake.

I know quite well that Aldi has the lowest prices of any grocery chain around (for the most part). Many of the items they sell simply can’t be found at cheaper prices – the only way you can compete is by playing a very careful game with the grocery store flyers and knowing the best deals at warehouse clubs.

I also know rationally that such an experience could happen (theoretically) at any grocery store chain. Hypothetically, I could pick up an item in another grocery store and find a bug infestation. Also, the incident occurred almost twenty years ago at a different Aldi than the current one I use.

That doesn’t change the fact that one horrendously bad experience has spoiled the soup for me. Is that rational or fair? Maybe not – I’m judging an entire chain/brand based on one specific bad experience. But that bad experience personally makes me question the safety and sanitary nature of the food I would buy there, and I feel uncomfortable feeding it to my family.

I’m quite sure that Aldi fans will show up in droves in the comments, stating how they never had a bad experience at Aldi, and I don’t doubt that at all.

But that bad experience – and the personal questions it raises for me – is enough for me to feel much more comfortable using Fareway as my “economy” grocery store. I’m quite happy to pay a few cents’ more for my staple foods at Fareway when I feel comfortable in the store and confident about the quality of my food purchases.

Have you had any nightmarish experiences with specific brands that have (fairly or unfairly) tarnished your view of that brand? Do you think it’s rational or fair to feel that way? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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  1. luvleftovers says:

    Isn’t it amazing how an experience can mess with our heads?

    I once got food poison from take out Chinese food – pork wonton soup – and ended up in the emergency room. It took 8 years for me to try it again. I’m still very careful about what I order and it gets sterilized in the microwave first.

    I also got 2nd degree burns from a cup of scalding tea. Started drinking coffee after that (the EMS worker made an off the side comment about how coffee is a few degrees cooler and wouldn’t have burned as bad. that stuck with me for a long time), and I didn’t drink tea for about 2 years. ( I love tea!)

    I can’t blame you Trent. Roaches have to be one of the most disgusting things and to see a swarm of them, is just, well, blech! (i’m getting itchy)

  2. Onaclov says:

    I have to agree, when I have had a bad experience at a place I am VERY hesitant to go back, and it doesn’t matter how much other people like it, or think it’s great, if it’s something that doesn’t work for me I don’t bother to go back.

  3. Your Friendly Neighborhood Computer Guy says:

    I’ve never heard of Aldi, is it a grocery store?But the underlying message of first impressions being important is very relatable. For me, as I begin my own computer consulting business, I will stive to make the BEST first impression I can, because it’s not too often someone is willin to give you a second shot.

  4. Amanda says:

    My husband had an experience with a cup of noodles, you know those little kits for lunch that come in a styrofoam cup? He opened one up once and found a bunch of maggots. And even if he sees it in the grocery store, he’ll still cringe. I cringe now, too. Yuck.

  5. Jen says:

    Good lord, I can’t blame you for being averse. I would have screamed bloody murder.

  6. Mister E says:

    Totally understandable. I will verrrrrrryy rarely eat at the East Side Mario’s chain of restaurants (only if someone else is treating and it would be a major social faux pas not to attend) because years ago I worked in the kitchen of one that was so unbelievably filthy that it tainted the whole place. It’s not really that big of a deal because the food is generally pretty bad anyways.

    That said though, I worked in a LOT of kitchens and saw a lot of things that would turn your stomach. Not even people intentionally messing with food because despite popular opinion in my experience that’s relatively rare, just terribly unsanitary conditions. My girlfriend and some other friends were grocery store folk and they confirm that grocery stores are much the same.

  7. Solomon@ThingsI'mGratefulFor says:

    I’ve only been in my local Aldi a couple of times, because it’s so far away from where I live. And I’m never entirely sure what I’m buying. I was in there with a friend once, and she nearly bought some onion rings, until I pointed out they were octopus.

  8. Candi says:

    I understand. My husband went with me to Aldi for the first time this past weekend. He has requested that I not shop alone there. Alas our two Aldi’s are in really bad sections of town and are not really safe. Consequently I rarely go and only do so to supplement our cupboards. I thankfully have not had your experience, gives me the willies just thinking about it. . .

  9. Tony Katz says:

    It is entirely fair to forever abandon a business based on one horrendous experience. You don’t owe a business a second chance. They need to impress with quality, price, service, and cleanliness *every single time*. Cleanliness is especially important where the business deals with food. If you go to a new restaurant and the dishes are dirty and the food smells off, why would you ever go back? If a grocery store can’t keep hordes of cockroaches out of the store, why would you ever go back?

  10. thriftykelly says:

    I got a rock in my uncle’s ben rice once, and it didn’t bother me at all. I called them to let them know there was an issue and they even sent me some coupons. I figure it was a freak accident. The customer service rep was more freaked out than I was, honestly.

    I got a rather unidentifiable piece of “meat” in some styrofoam cup ramen once, and have pretty much avoided them since. It was chicken flavored but there wasn’t any meat listed in the ingredients.

    I got moldy m+m’s once for halloween, and that definitely hasn’t stopped me from eating those!

    So I think it depends entirely on the situation. I will say, in your defense that my mom used to shop at Aldi’s and it always just looked really gross to me. Just stuff stacked everywhere and in complete disarray. I always hated going there and if my current city had one, I wouldn’t shop there either.

  11. lackadaisi says:

    After all of the hype I have been reading recently, I finally tried going to an Aldi this past weekend. I found the place to be disgusting. Most of the dairy had expiration dates of that day or the next, and half the produce was rotten. After seeing a cucumber so rotten it had blown up to almost football-size, we abandoned the attempt, ditched the food, and returned the empty cart. Never again!

  12. BonzoGal says:

    That story should serve as a vivid warning to businesses: not only is a first impression extremely important, but a customer who has a negative experience will tell many, many others who will likely not use your business.

    There was a nearby pizza delivery place that we had patronized for years, until they delivered a pizza with rotten meat on it- I can’t understand how they didn’t smell it, because the moment we opened the box, peeeyew! And the meat was greenish. We complained and got our money back, but we NEVER used them again. They didn’t seem all that contrite!

  13. Emmilee says:

    I had a similar experience while living in Philadelphia this summer. Two grocery stores in walking distance. The cheaper of the two with the better selection? I saw a mouse running around. Ugh.

    So I spent more at the notably cleaner establishment with limited selection and felt nary a guilty pang.

  14. H-Bomb says:

    I feel the same way trent but on a slightly less horrific scale.
    I have in ingraned in me to not purchase anything cold from Aldi because of my parents. We would only buy canned and shelf stable food. When going past the meats often they were discolored (an image that will not go away ever). So often I hear how they have come a long way and that the cold foods are good and much better than they were 20 years ago, but I still can not purchase anything cold.

  15. savvy says:

    I once choked horribly on a particular brand of cookie (through no fault of the cookie). However, for a number of years after that, I avoided the cookies, though they had once been my favorite, for fear of choking. I eventually starting eating them again but am cautious to never repeat the scenario (walking around eating cookies) that caused the original incident.

  16. Shevy says:

    That is incredibly gross. I don’t blame you for your ongoing reaction to the store.

    I’ve had a few experiences with finding moths or their larvae in packaged food. There’s nothing like opening a new box and having something fly out of it!

    I think it’s the store more than the manufacturer that contributed to this, in that the product probably sat for a long time on the shelf or in a warehouse.

    Although when I think about it, the example you gave may very well have been a manufacturing issue. That is, the mats may have been made in a third world country and boxed and shipped over complete with disgusting additions. They were probably just taken out of the box all in a bunch and nothing was seen until you guys moved one. Yuck. Just thinking about it is grossing me out.

  17. Miscg says:

    I don’t blame you at all Trent.

    There was a vietnemese restaurant I frequented with co-workers for years, and then one day, there was a massive unidentifiable roach-like bug in the wonton soup to my left. We were horrified and even though the owener came over and apoligizes frantically and said that NEVER happens, I have never been back. I just can’t get over that image in relation to that restaurant.

    It annoys me but it’s fascinating that the brain makes certain associations you can never get over.

  18. Cori says:

    One time I chipped a tooth on a no-bake cookie. I will never eat one ever ever again.

  19. Mister E says:

    Just to chime in again, there is also a chain of low end grocery stores that I won’t buy anything perishible from. I once attended the “Grand Opening” event of one and there was meat for sale that was already past it’s expiry date. The meat was actually dated for the day before the store opened. I pointed it out to an employee and he just sort of shrugged and left it on the shelf.

  20. Kim says:

    Trent, I don’t blame you one bit. My husband and I have also had a bad experience with Aldi and will not shop there again. Should’ve used our better judgement in buying meat there, but we got sick!

  21. ~M says:

    The one problem I have with Aldi’s is not with any bugs; however, I purchased a bag of potatoes because they looked fine. Got them home to find they were leaking. The potatoes in the middle had rotted to liquid. I was wondering what the smell in the car was.

    Now, when I get potatoes there (because they are cheapest even if I can find a sale at a regular store), I make sure to move the potatoes around in the bag to make sure they are ALL solid.

    We go thru 10# of potatoes a week for a family pet (pot belly pig). Paying $0.50+ per bag every week at a regular store (that I wouldnt normally visit when I do my rounds) makes no sense.


  22. Jeff says:

    Now I’ve got the background music from the insect cave scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom running through my head (all those pizzicato strings). Creepy.

    The worst experience like that I’ve had was while eating a Chicken Carver sandwich at Boston Market. I ate one half, then took a bite of the second half, revealing a (thankfully intact) HUGE bug. When I showed it to the manager, he offered me as much of anything in the store as I wanted (nice customer service), and explained that periodically a shipment of lettuce will come in that has a few bugs.

    I love Boston Market food, but I haven’t had a Carver sandwich since then. Can’t quite get myself to bite into it. I stick with the cooked meals.

  23. Brandon says:

    I’ll never do business with Bank of America again. Their customer service put a bad enough taste in my mouth to never mess with them again.

    I had a bad experience in college and gave them a 2nd chance 6 years later. There won’t be a 3rd chance.

  24. Lauren says:

    I don’t blame you either. It took me more than one bad experiences with the local A&P (spoiled produce, boxes of cereal on the shelf that were over a year expired and seemingly arbitrary jacking up of prices for staples I buy–a $3 change in price over one week for no reason), but after I emailed A&P and got a really pathetic response, I’ll never shop there again even though their prices are better than the stop and shop.

  25. Sassy says:

    The bad experience doesn’t have to involve food. Years ago I went to buy my first car and the American car dealers were uniformly rude to me (Ford was the worse: I still remember wanting to take the Mustang for a test drive to make sure the 4 cylinder had enough power for a long hill I drove every day: one of the sales folks told me ” Look, lady, either you want the car or not and I’m not going to get one out for you to test drive.” ) I went down the block and checked out foreign cars and decided on a Toyota; several years later I did test drive an American car and the spedometer was not working and several finish pieces were missing — and this was the car used to sell folks on the model! I’ve not looked back — I’m a Toyota or Honda customer for life.

  26. Sara A. says:

    My roach story:

    One day I was helping some people move. We had their kitchen table upside down and were tilting it through the door in order to get it to fit. Suddenly, a swarm of little baby roaches comes pouring out of the center post that supports the table. We dropped the table and then larger roaches started flooding out.

    Keep in mind, this is the kitchen table where they ate all their meals, where they fed their baby. I could not get out of that place fast enough.

  27. Shanel Yang says:

    Pretty much when I see anything crawling around in a restaurant (esp. if in my food!), I eventually stop going to that restaurant. I know it’s not exactly fair b/c bugs just happen sometimes, but I lose the desire to eat there anymore. Simple as that.

  28. TJ says:

    I have numerous places I don’t go to because of one bad experience. Yours was downright traumatic, and I don’t think anyone can blame you. It’s in our psychology as human beings to associate such things, and that negative association can have physical effects. You shop where you are comfortable, you have no reason to feel bad about that.

  29. Bronwyn says:

    I used to live in Philadelphia in college, and there was a Wendy’s right down the street from me. I went there a time or two with friends, and then finals week ended up with the most vicious, painful food poisoning I’ve ever gotten.

    That was four years ago, and I haven’t been to one since, nor do I plan to go again. Just not worth the risk.

    But I was twenty three, then. I think impressions formed–of brand names and otherwise–in childhood are stronger, and are definitely likely to last no matter what evidence is given to the contrary later.

  30. Sarah says:

    I completely understand. I got really bad food poisoning from a tuna melt YEARS ago and my stomach still turns and I feel green if I only smell tuna. I can’t be near it because I feel like I’ll get sick again. It isn’t the same as a store but I understand how one bad experience can really mess with you for the rest of your life.

  31. Rebecca says:

    Even though roaches are incredibly gross, I think that the age you were at the time of this experience contributed to how severely it affected you. You were at such an impressionable age, I can easily understand how it would have such an enormous impact.

    The one time I was affected by a roach, I didn’t even need to see it. I had taken my two daughters to a Shoney’s restaurant in Mississippi and, up until then, it was my favorite chain…I loved their burgers. But while I was waiting for our check, a waitress came up to the man in the booth next to ours and apologized for the cockroach he had found in his spaghetti.

    Now, even though I know it is almost impossible for any place to remain completely cockroach free in the hot and humid South, I just felt that the restaurant had not been vigilant enough and never ate at that Shoney’s again. Only now do I realize that I don’t think I have ever eaten at ANY Shoney’s since. I do think that is unfair of me, and yet….

    Still, I think in the case you mentioned, had I been an adult, I believe that I might have assumed that – as Shevy mentioned above – the roaches were transported there between the mats and the store was not really responsible. On the other hand, a horde of cockroaches is a truly disgusting sight and even my adult self might have a difficult time buying something from the place where I encountered them.

    It seems to me that this is truly the kind of psychological situation that changing our mindsets about money won’t really address.

  32. PJA says:

    Yes it’s fair. I tell you I am never going there.
    This is an easy one. It’s risk management – companies tend to get worse over time – or at least stay the same (see Good to Great for the few exceptions). Why risk disease or the cost of therapy you will need as you try to bite down on something crunchy you bought there to give them a second chance – open markets solve it with better choices.

  33. Marie says:

    I won’t touch Dinty Moore beef stew after I got a large bone stuck in my mouth from a piece of meat. When my husband buys any kind of canned food I get nervous and usually won’t try it.

  34. Jeff says:

    I agree with Trent on this matter. First of all, one should shop where they feel comfortable. Some of the time it might be customer service and other times, it might be the ambiance.

    We have a Frys supermarket and a Safeway in the same general area. Frys just has a brighter and friendlier feel. The employees in both stores are great. The physical structure is just better at Frys and that is where I spend my money.

  35. Carol says:

    EEEWWWWWW the cockroaches!!!

    My story is about bread. I normally do my grocery shopping at the grocery store but if I only have a couple items, I’ll get them at Walmart Supercenter. (it’s easier than getting the kids outta carseats again)

    So I bought 2 loaves of Walmart’s Great Value bread. Put 1 loaf in the freezer when I got home. I was making grilled cheese sandwiches and needed that loaf. I used about 1/2 of it then I noticed weird shapes hollowed out of the bread… still partially frozen. As it turned out, I pulled out a piece of blue rubber tubing about 2 inch diameter about 3 inches long and some other smaller pieces. My stomach turned instantly and I couldn’t eat supper. Consequently, I couldn’t eat bread, period, for over a week. The Service Desk lady at Walmart about hurled over it as she gave me my $$ back. And yes, I got my $$ back. NOT another loaf in exchange!!!!! And I haven’t bought Great Value bread in probably about the 2 years since.
    My stomach turns in the bread aisle at Walmart still.

  36. Chris says:

    wow, grocery stores are insanely regionalized! I have NEVER heard of aldi or fareway…

    but I assume you guys have never heard of: ralphs, albertson’s alpha beta, lucky’s, safeway, vons. Maybe some of you have heard of smith’s but they left california awhile ago. (and technically alpha beta and lucky’s are gone, but still they probably never existed east of the rockies).

    I wonder why grocery stores are so regionalized while place slike costco, sam’s club, target and walmart exist nationally? Is it a produce/fresh good supplier issue vs national distribution for dry/packaged goods?

  37. John M. says:

    We had an experience with a roach invading our booth at a Burger King when I was a kid. I didn’t return to Burger King for about 20 years after that.

  38. Angie says:

    My husband loved canned corn – was one of his favorite foods when he was a kid. When he was 7 or 8, he warmed up a bowl, then stirred it, only to have it turn red – something ‘extra’ had been in the can. He’s 32, and I still cannot serve corn in our house at mealtime. It makes him so sick he refuses to eat – he will not even fix himself something else to eat – just gets up and walks out of the room.

  39. Merinda says:


    Okay now that that’s out of my system. I avoid Aldi’s in part because it just always felt dirty with questionable meat and fruits and veggies that never lasted more then a day out of the store. I avoid buying veggies at the IGA that’s literally across the street for the same reason. Sometimes places just don’t feel right and I’ve learned to trust that instinct.

    I also had the experience one time of eating at a Thai restaurant. As we finished our food I looked over and saw a cockroach climbing the wall of our booth. After managing not to freak out I got our food for free and never went back.

  40. Jim says:

    I think its rational and fair. I think it would be irrational to continue shopping at a grocery store that you know had a roach problem. Should you give them a second chance? Why? If you’ve got a good store now then why abandon them for a store you’ve had a bad problem with in the past.

    Brand loyalty means sticking to a brand that treats you right. Theres no good reason to leave Fareway. There was good reason to swear of Aldi.


  41. Marie says:

    If I remember my intro psych, that kind of experience is called learned aversion. Cognitive behavior therapy is probably best if someone needs to overcome such an experience.

    I had a psych professor who had a great example of it – he had 21 vodka gimlets in one night. It was years before he could hear the name without feeling queasy and decades before he forced himself to have another one.

  42. Kristin says:

    My friend was eating at Applebees and a salad was deliverd. The woman at the table next to her was kind of upset, and asked the waitress to see the manager. The manager walked up, screamed, apologized, took the plate away. What was it? A mouse in the salad.

  43. thordora says:

    When I was 7 or so, I LOVED iceburg lettuce, and much to my mother’s annoyance, I would sit and eat a half a head while watching TV for a little while. All was well until one day, I broke off a hunk and there sat a worm inside the lettuce. This wasn’t helped by her removing the worm and telling me to eat it anyway.

    So I can’t eat iceburg lettuce without a VERY careful examination.

    My brother will go to Aldi on his way to visit me (I’m in Canada) I’ve never had any complaints with the products, but ROACHES? That would do me in as well.

  44. Lurker Carl says:

    Take a job at any establishment that deals with lots of food and you’ll never again purchase food that isn’t sterilized and hermetically sealed. Vermin are rampant everywhere food is stored unless great pains are taken to contain or eradicate them.

    I would bet those roaches arrived at Aldi’s already living in the floor mats, especially if they were a natural fiber or bound with an animal based glue.

  45. Steve says:

    After having 5 consecutive problems with multiple Sears stores and having them refuse to reimburse the full purchase price of an item because it was currently on sale my wife and I will never shop at Sears again, regardless of their prices. The straw that broke the camel’s back was awful customer service when we both tried to recoup the 11 dollars Sears stole from us and when getting a part under warranty took 6 transfers to other customer service personnel and nearly two hours!

    I understand if a business or employee falls flat on its face in trying to serve you now and again, but repetitive failures or egregious events (like cockroaches in Aldi) are both completely valid reasons to (a) abandon that outlet, and (b) be vocal about why.

  46. Lurker Carl says:

    I forgot, insects seldom arrived with the produce shipments. Spiders, rodents and snakes took care of those pests; never a dull moment when unloading the trucks. The insects came along with the pre-packaged food items, they either were already living among the packages or soon hatched. Flour, sugar and cake mixes were the worst.

  47. jake says:

    weird must be an east coast thing. This is my first time hearing the name Aldi.

    But getting back on topic, experiences do shape how you view a store. I have purposely avoided a store because of a particular experience and actually get out of my way to convince others to do the same.

  48. gnortenjones says:

    Jeezus! That story made ME cringe just reading it.

    Don’t blame you a second for not going back. Savings aren’t everything, there’s a quality of life issue that needs to be considered. Peace of mind does have a value.

    I think the only place I have actively boycotted just because of a bad experience was a “Super China Buffet” restaurant. The first time I went there I got some chicken stir fry only to realize when I bit it into the chicken, that it was practically raw.

    Not going back. Nuh-uh. No way.

  49. Dawn says:

    I think it comes down to the reason we are all in this personal finance boat – it isn’t for the money, it is for the peace of mind. We all want to feel comfortable and secure, so we can relax and enjoy ourselves. What is your time worth if you feel miserable shopping at a store were you had bad experiences? What is it worth if you distrust the food? I say that fair or not, you being comfortable where you shop is far, far more important than giving some store a second chance.

  50. Celine says:

    Insects scared you away? One single incident has you so frightened of a store is ridiculous considering the amount of time that has elapsed. If the insects caused bodily harm or landed on you I could see some reason for the long residual effect it has had. It’s time to move on and deposit .25 cents for your shopping cart and enjoy the good savings the store has to offer.

  51. Aunt Jenny says:

    I have two experiences to share:

    My husband found weevils (sp?) in his Mrs. Graff’s dried soup when he was a child. Many years later he tried the soup again at his mothers and (I kid you not) AGAIN he found dried weevils! I saw them this time and those little freeze dried weevils were gross, and no they were not parsley!

    I became very ill with Rey’s syndrom when I was young and it was right after I had eaten a Charm’s blow pop. I didn’t eat one again for many years and when I finally did, I had a really icky anxious feeling in my stomach while I was eating it. I guess my brain was doing it’s job, desperately trying to protect me from doing something stupid :)

  52. Jared says:

    Wow that cockroach thing is gross. i hate shoppers becuase they seem to never have what i want, and they don’t take internet coupons (at least the one near me doesn’t). the cockroach thing is just crazy though!

  53. Ro says:

    Ewwwww, can’t blame you at all…very traumatic for a little kid! And too gross!

    Like a poster above, I have not eaten Chinese food in years due to a food poisoning episode, and it used to be my very favorite. So I get where you’re coming from!

  54. deepali says:

    I am the oddball here. I’ve had visceral disgusting experiences with a number of things, but it eventually fades away and I’m back at it.

    I’ve seen roaches in stores and restaurants and been back the next week (and as context, I cross the street if there is a roach on the sidewalk).

    One time there was coagulated blood in my chicken noodle soup. Still eat soup (not chicken noodle, since I don’t eat meat anymore).

    Maybe I will just never learn. :)

  55. Sandy says:

    Aldi’s is actually a German grocery chain…they are all over Europe, and so imagine my surprise, after shopping at them for years over there, to move stateside, and find one had opened up in my hometown! If you check, the employees at Aldi’s make far more than their “American Store” counterpart, and they naturally have Sundays off…at least they did until recently.
    Too bad about the cockroaches..I had a thing with chocolate mint cookies one time in college 25 years ago…still can’t eat a Thin Mint even though I’m a Girl Scout leader!

  56. liv says:

    I think that sometimes it’s ok to let a bad experience spoil the chances of ever coming back. Sometimes, I might overlook it, but other times, I don’t. Customer service is HUGE. I am refusing to shop at Sears now because their Auto team sucked and had the worst service EVER. Yup, everyone else who was ever nice to me there will suffer because of the Auto team.

  57. Ryan McLean says:

    I hope all aldi stores are not like that. That is horrible

  58. Stacey says:

    Isn’t it facinating how the human mind works? I agree that your age was probably a big factor in this phobia.

    My mom is a huge Aldi’s fan, but I can take it or leave it. The prices aren’t that great! I do much better building our meals around sales… And some items are actually more expensive than our local grocery store (bread, for example).

  59. shalom says:

    I empathize, Trent, ever so.

    My story: Thanksgiving Day, 3 years ago. We stopped to get cokes at a gas station before getting on the road to drive to my parents. My niece wanted a fountain Sprite, so we were fixing it when ANTS came out of the dispenser with the Sprite. Hundreds of tiny, and probably dead, little sugar ants. UGH.

    I told the store clerk and all she said was “huh!”and looked bored. We set everything down and walked out, and I have never been back there.

    Separate gross event, that is funny to me now:
    Back in law school, a live rat came up my toilet when I flushed it late one night. Completely freaked me out and for months afterward, I had this horrid fear of my bathroom and this dilemma — leave the lid up, and risk a rat coming up at any time? leave the lid down, and have to force myself to flip the lid up quickly whenever I went in there?

    I told the super the next day, and he said something like “You in a ground floor apartment? Hunh. Yep, well, that could happen again. Probably won’t. Nothing I can do about it.”

    I told him that he blew it, that this had been the perfect opportunity for him to lie to me and make me content to keep living there. Since there was nothing to be done, and sewer rats really aren’t that likely to swim back up the pipes and survive, he really should have said “Oh, that’s horrible! I’ll check into our plumbing right away. Rest assured — we’ll take care of this and I’ll do my best to make sure this will never happen again!”

  60. Penny says:

    If I have a bad experience at a store, or with a service provider, I have a 3 strikes rule. Sometimes an employee might be just having a bad day, or something might be out of the stores control, so i am (mostly, unless it is very bad, like your cockroaches, Trent!) happy to write off one bad experience to “bad timing”. Twice is an ugly coincidence, and if I get a third time, well thats it! I once found mould on the top of a pie! eww, gross. I have in fact eaten those pies again, but admitedly have always checked for mold first, and have not found a single spore. So am glad for my 3 strikes rule, generally. Perhaps I am too kind, but like to give stores and service providers the benefit of the doubt.

  61. Lisa says:

    I won’t eat at a salad bar ever again after working a year in a middle school where the students would lean under the “spit guard” to spit into the salad bar, just for kicks. YUCK

  62. Jillian says:

    I’d be the same with the roaches, but if you think about it, it’s completely irrational. For the few roaches you do actually see there must be thousands more that you don’t, in countless other stores and restaurants – it’s definitely a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’!

    I refuse to shop at one of our local grocery chains for a completely different reason. Two months after we moved into a nice apartment with a vacant lot out the back, construction workers turned up and transformed the nice grassy section into a warehouse for processing fruit and veges for this grocery store – literally right below our bedroom window. Not only did we have to put up with months of construction noise, once the building was completed there were round the clock deliveries, complete with big trucks, forklifts, floodlights, shouting and very loud music. We called Noise Control on them several times but that just seemed to make it worse. Maybe we were just unlucky, but we moved out after a few months and I’ve never shopped at that store since.

  63. Sarah says:

    Poor Trent! Ugh, I’m so sorry. There have been a few times that a particular food has been forever tainted for me because I was coming down with a sickness at the time I ate it – a Zone Bar is associated with nausea – not that I would eat a “meal replacement bar” these days anyway.

    This topic is unfortunate, as I was just gearing up for my monthly Aldi trip tomorrow. I don’t know that stepping up to a more expensive store would make me feel more comfortable with the food though… Unless I went to a local farm or just out of my budget.

  64. Florida Girl says:

    Roaches,yeah, I’m with you on this one. Living in Florida I have my fair share of Roach encounters and even though it seems we have every living creepy crawling bug living here, roaches freak me out. I grew up in Germany and there is an Aldi on every corner as long as I can think. Probably the same. Very cheap, they drive in pallets full of boxes with items. The stores are more like a whole sale place than a neatly organized store that caters to the beautiful shopping experience. I completely understand your feeling and I would challenge you to give Aldi another chance. Maybe and just maybe the experience will be the opposite and just like you can learn to overcome most other fears by slowly taking a closer look, I believe you can do so in this case. It is amazing how a bad experience can spoil the broth.

  65. tambo says:

    Scrambled eggs at Country Kitchen gave both my husband and I food poisoning and we haven’t entered one of their restaurants since. Although I do sometimes shop at Aldi’s, I completely get what your saying.

    Also, Bank of America made my life a financial hell for nearly a year. I worked for a small art studio and my boss did payroll with company checks through Bank of America. Our credit union put a 5 business day hold on any BofA check – imagine going without pay for an extra week simply because your boss changed banks; they’d never had a problem when he was writing checks through Wells Fargo – and the BofA solution? Get an account with them and I could cash my check without any hassle. They promised.

    Aggravated, we did, but every freaking time they required a pile of ID (which I provided), a fingerprint (which I gave), AND had to call my boss to make sure I wasn’t stealing his money. Of course he wasn’t hardly ever in the office, seeing as how the studio was closed. And I’d go to the same branch, see the same teller, yet every freaking payday was a huge hassle.

    I will NEVER bank with Bank of America.

  66. Kim N says:

    There is a popular grocery store in our area that is actually known for it’s cleanliness and quality, but I haven’t been there for at least eight years because of an experience I had there. I was buying some salmon and the checker picked it up to scan it and said, “did you look for worms?” I said, “uh. excuse me?” He said, “Ya, the other day I was scanning some of this fish and I looked down and there were maggots crawling all over it.”

    I didn’t buy the fish and I haven’t gone back.

  67. SBT says:

    I won’t shop at Aldi, either. I was creeped out, but by totally different things. The Aldi we went to was an older store, back in the days when they took cash, and only cash,and I understand things are different now, but they made me feel so uncomfortable I have never wanted to set foot in another Aldi.

    I felt like I was entering a prison, where I was assumed to be a criminal. First, there was a turnstyle you had to walk through to get to the carts. That was mildly irritating. Then, I looked up. The side walls of the store did not go to the ceiling, but up to a balconey level where no fewer than six people were stationed at various points, watching the customers. They didn’t move the whole time we were there, except when someone spoke into a two-way radio, and a customer up front was stopped and patted down. One of those watchers saw me looking at him and just stared back at me with the dirtiest look. I felt threatened. There were three more security people stationed between the cash registers and the door.

    Yes, it was in a not particularly nice end of one of the larger cities in Iowa, but I never saw another store in that neighborhood do the same. I felt that they were just utterly hostile to their customers.

    That and the rotten bananas covered with fruit flies piled in a special display in the aisle turned me off so completely I have never wanted to go back.

  68. Anne K says:

    There’s a SuperFresh grocery in the area; when we first moved to that town I tried all the local grocery stores in the area. Walked in, walked out immediately because of the stench of rotting meat. Never went back. A local A&P in my hometown was okay until I ran into a friend who fixes freezers. The friend told me to never buy meat there because the refrigeration was always problematic.

    Thanks to those who left comments about Bank of America; I’ve been considering changing banks and that one was on the list until just now! I’ll just set up account at the credit union.

  69. Maggie says:

    Biting into a cherry and seeing a little maggot poke its head out put me off cherries for years.

    BTW, I was told by a restaurant inspector that if you see a cockroach in the dining area of a restaurant you should leave – it means the kitchen is full!

  70. Awesome Mom says:

    We never eat at Taco Bell anymore. One time while traveling home from a visit to my husband’s parent’s house we stopped at one for lunch. Luckily he did not get really sick until we had arrived home. I was just glad that I missed out on the “fun” as I was pregnant at the time and that our son did not get sick either.

  71. Maha says:

    I think that the reason your view was tarnished so harshly and for the other people who have negative views on products or businesses is because we place trust in establishments or brands. When that trust is violated, you don’t want to go back to it. Brand marketing is about getting the consumer to trust that that brand will perform to your expectations every time. When it doesn’t, your trust is violated. Fair or not, it’s human nature.

  72. Savvy Frugality says:

    I guess I’ll be the naysayer here. I think Aldi is a great grocery store, and my family shops there often. Personally, I have seen/purchased many disgusting things from many different supermarkets (food that turned out to be spoiled, etc.). It sounds like the Aldi store you went to was poorly managed and maintained. The Aldi stores I have visited have been extremely clean compared to some of the other grocery chains I have visited. I also buy many grocery items at dollar stores and Big Lots, which is cheaper than buying them at actual grocery stores, and they have always been fine.

    On the other hand, I once got food poisoning from a chicken sandwich I purchased at Burger King. That was more than 20 years ago, and I’ve never been back to a Burger King since.

  73. James says:

    20-25 years ago a network news program did a story on Food Lion, a local grocery store chain, alledging some very unappetizing practices in their meat department. For many years I couldn’t buy meat there, when I was forced to shop there. Gradually I got over this, as it is a very prominent store and just to convenient to shop at on occasion.

    I have been shopping at Aldi for about a year, since they opened one in our area. I love it not only for the prices, but for the quality of the goods. I can also get in and out of the store much more quickly than any other stores, because they streamline everything. You have to pay a quarter to release a cart (returned, when you return the cart), pay for bags (so I recycle them now), band bag your own groceries. So what, I’m saving time and money. The only down side is that they have a more limited selection than larger stores, so I do have to shop at other stores to fill in for the omissions in Aldi’s product line.

  74. JT in the Army says:

    Ah, Aldi and Fareway.
    My family only bought canned or dry foods there. Usually things we knew would be cheaper than HyVee, Cub Foods, or Fareway.
    When I started working at HyVee in high school I began to figure out what was cheaper at HyVee or Fareway and didnt care if I bought it at Fareway as it was on my way home from work.
    I always got stared at when I went into Fareway after work wearing my HyVee hat. :-)

    None of those chains are out here on the west coast. We’ve got Safeway and then we have QFC and Fred Meyer, both owned by Kroger.
    We also have Grocery Outlet, which has lots of canned and dry goods at low prices because the packaging is out of date- such as advertising a movie after the theater run is done.

  75. bestbunch says:

    I will not buy beef at the local WalMart. For 2 reasons:

    -Meat comes prepackaged. No meat cutters there. (That’s one reason they can keep the prices low)

    -The meat ‘guy’ that works there in the afternoon (the one that actually puts the meat out in the coolers) can’t read words or numbers (I know this to be a fact).

  76. Sue says:

    Its safe to assume that none of the posters above have ever grocery shopped in a third world country – you’d starve to death by the end of the first week :-)

  77. Jade says:

    That roach story is going to give me nightmares… Remind me not to read this blog before going to bed, lol!

    I mean, a little bug here and there won’t bother me no matter where I go, I’ll get that even in my own produce I grow at home. It happens. I hate bugs, but it happens, you can’t sterilize everything.

    But that many roaches?!?!? I’d avoid at least that store like the plague… If it was a chain… eh… if the other stores seemed like they were in better shape I might keep going. A rational fear or not, I can’t blame anyone for not wanting to go in there again.

    My dad has this thing with soda cans though, you’ve gotta clean the top of them off before you open them. He was doing some electrical work in a grocery store after hours and saw some workers pile up some cases of soda to stand on top of them to reach other stuff, and they had been walking through… let’s call it “chicken nature” before doing this. I suppose I wouldn’t worry about this if the sodas were in a 12 pack cardboard box, but when you get those uncovered flat cases…

    So let’s just say that my dad and I both have this unconcious habit now of wiping off the top of a soda can before opening it.

  78. Vee says:

    I thought ALDIs had a different name in America? The short version of ALDIs is for what costs you a full trolley (shopping cart?) in a regular supermarket chain, you can get 2 or 3 trolley fulls for the same price at ALDIs.

  79. Roaches and food do not mix well! I can see how that would impact you negatively. I do some mystery shopping and I am the same way when I see dirt/bugs.

  80. reulte says:

    One experience like that . . . ewwh, shudder! I currently live outside of the US and shopping can be occasionally problematic. Shopping takes twice as long because I’m inspecting the food carefully. One thing I always do is put the grains (rice, flour, pasta) into the freezer for at least 24 hours to kill anything so it won’t hatch and crawl around later (something about if you can’t see it, then it doesn’t but you). I keep open boxed products (after freezing) in the refrigerator because it has seals which the cabinets don’t. I don’t stock up on fruits/veggies unless they can also be kept in the fridge. The up side of all this? There’s so little room in my fridge, that nothing stays long enough to actually mold!

    Like Jade, I always wipe the top of cans and sodas – even bottled ones – because you can never tell what has been dripped on them or if the storeroom was fumigated while they were sitting on the shelves.

  81. reulte says:

    Oops – I meant BUG you not “but you”.

  82. anna says:

    Hi Trent,

    I don’t consider your reaction “rational” but this does not mean it is not VALID. Firstly it is a branding phenomenon that causes you to link the past incident with the Aldi name and chain. The cockroaches have become an attribute that you assign to Aldi in your mind.

    On the other hand, look at it from a pragmatic perspective. Time and distance are factors differentiating your current Aldi stores from the one you visited 20 years ago. The management of the store is different. Perhaps even the ownership, and the hygiene policies, of the Aldi chain has changed more than once over the years. Pest control technologies have evolved, etc.

    In the end, I find your reaction emotional rather than rational. At the same time, I would not call it irrational. Given what you describe, it sounded terribly traumatizing, and human beings react to trauma in extreme ways as a form of self preservation. But if you can get your head around the whole issue, in all likelihood there is not much at your neighborhood Aldi which will cause you harm now.

  83. C. says:

    I live in Germany & the Aldis here have great prices. Unfortunately, if you go to an Aldi here at the wrong time of day, you take your life into your own hands. Look out for pushy people with their shopping carts, you might get shoved out of the way! It’s like an Indy 500 race, and the store has just announced that it will run out of inventory in the next 5 minutes. Another turn off is that the clerks throw everything after they scan it. You’re lucky if it ends up in your shopping cart instead of on the floor. Finally, my pet peeve about Aldi has to be that the clerks will hand you your change before you even have time to consider how you want to pay. They always end the transaction by plugging in that you paid the exact amount in cash. I don’t understand how that can be legal.

  84. Lynette says:

    I don’t shop at Aldi because I try not to eat a lot of packaged foods.

    Although I did try their 2 minute noodles and thought “Hey these taste really good!” then I read on the pack it contained 50 grams of fat, yes 50!

    The only bad experience I have had at Aldi is that no one ever shuts the freezer doors and they never clean up the spilt beans, peas and corn lurking at the bottom of the freezer.

  85. Penny Squeaker says:

    Hey Trent,

    My experience at AIDI’s is as follows:

    First their prices are not really that great, a loaf of bread that was .59 cents at the begin of ’08 has increased twice to .79 cents. That’s at the western PA location, other US location may be higher or lower.

    There selections of so called fresh veggies, are not fresh and seems to riot after just another 3-4 days after purchase. This has not happen once but all 3 test trails of their fresh foods. Just because it’s cheaper, it’s not better!!!

    Moving forward, my household shopping is done by purchasing all my fresh veggies @ super walmart, as well as my household items. Bulk rice, dog food, and other bulk staple food picked up from SAM’S CLUB. At AIDI’s we’ll just pickup eggs & bread in bulk and freeze it in our deep freezer, and that’s about every two months.

    There might be 1 or 2 AIDI’s per state for example, these are not SUPER Walmart’s or Target’s. AIDI’s sells a very small selection of can goods, dried beans, cereal, milk, eggs, veggies, cold cuts, bread, and frozen convenience foods, a bunch of sugar crap sodas & snacks.

    Since we cook 95% of our meals at home, there is no need to waste money on store brought convenience foods. Driving to our nearest AIDI’s uses two gallons of gas roundtrip. That’s driving our Toyota Yaris which gets 39mpg.

    Driving to AIDI’s is now cost shared w/other family members.

  86. Carrie says:

    I don’t shop at Best Buy. My parents bought their first computer in 1997 when I was 18 and the Best Buy guys got them set up with internet. They told my dad it was “good to go.” A month later when my dad got his phone bill for $1,100, we discovered that the dial-up connection was set to a long distance number. All of us in our household were essentially computer illiterate at the time and did not know enough to even check that. We took Best Buy’s word for it that everything really was “good to go.” Multiple calls and visits to Best Buy (and the phone company) and were told it was our problem and certainly not the fault of Best Buy. I felt then (and still feel) that my dad was screwed on that phone bill and I blame Best Buy for that.

  87. Jennifer says:

    I have issues with Aldi myself because of an experience my friend had when we were young. They got a can of corn that had half a roach in it. It’s always stuck with me that it was purchased at Aldi. EW.

  88. Ian says:

    Funny timing of this story – there is an Aldi about to open right up the street from me. It will be the first one in this area (one of the first in Florida).
    I had a bad experience at BJ’s Club. Like any wholesale club they have canned items stacked high on pallets. I walked by some cans of Beef Stew and it smelled literally like poop. Turns out one can of stew had broken open during shipping, and the beef was rotten. Flies were flying in and out of the can (which was likely also filled with maggots). It had to have been there for quite some time. How did no one notice?

    Obviously these are isolated incidents, but I don’t buy food at BJ’s anymore. I still shop there but for other things like diapers, detergent and toilet paper.
    I agree with your point – some stores are better than other for certain items.

  89. Matt says:

    I will never be a Discover Card customer again. Terrible customer service. I’m currently using their 0% APR introductory card and will be transferring the balance when it’s over.
    I will never shop at KMart because, when I used to work there, the backroom area was so disgusting and unsanitary (and unsafe) it was ridiculous. They were selling Halloween candy from 1-2 years ago — if they found it in the backroom, out it went. Some of their backroom soda was so old, it was eroding out of the can and corroding through the metal shelves they were on.
    I’ve had two bad experiences at Kroger, so don’t shop there anymore.
    Etc, etc, etc. I always give a place a second chance, because mistakes are always made. Like a previous poster said, that was likely a manufacturing issue with the cockroaches — the insects would move to the food if it was store neglect. But being traumatized messes with the mind. And there is some peace-of-mind shopping in a store you enjoy being in.

  90. MN Scout says:

    I buy my cereal, milk and eggs there. A $1.50 for 20 oz Raisin Bran is a really good deal. 1 gallong of milk is $2.49. They also have really good large cinnamon raisin bagels that I can never pass up for $1.39.

    I would agree with the above posters that there vegetable selection isn’t the best.

  91. Adrienne says:

    The first and only time I went to Aldi’s, the cashier yelled at us for not putting the cart in the right place by the checkout aisle. Never been back. It’s also out of the way, and the store where I usually shop has good prices and a great selection, so going out of my way to save a few cents and get yelled at seems like a pretty bad deal.

    Pretty much any and all stores where there is food, including restaurants, are going to have roaches and other bugs unless they actively work to *not* have them. The good ones do.

  92. JM says:

    I think with the amount of choice we have, we’ll be easily swayed to another store or brand even if that means paying more to be more comfortable.

    On the topic of bugs, I know restaurants in older buildings will throw food out in the morning to attract all the cochroaches and then kill them before the customers arrive.

  93. Renato says:

    Hi Trent, I wonder how do you feel about the wal marts and the Aldi’s of the world when trying to be frugal? Your story about the cockroaches reminds me of why I do not like to shop at Wal Mart. Mine isn’t really a trauma but rather it quality/principles issue. I do not like to shop at wal mart because I find the quality of food to be atrocious, the produce is seldom green and crisp, I can’t find a good loaf of bread unless I bake it myself, and the meat tends to go bad every once in a while. Add to that the implications that buying at wal mart gives more fuel to this economic tempest that we are currently in and one can’t help but figure a better way to shop locally and grow their own produce.

    But sometimes, where else are you going to go to buy a 21 gallon container?

  94. Kevin says:

    I don’t blame you Trent, that is pretty bad. I have a similar experience, but not quite as bad. While at our local Buffalo Wild Wings, I saw a little mouse run under one of the video games near our table in the bar area. I discreetly told our waitress who informed the manager. They were thankful we didn’t make a big deal about it and gave us a free round of drinks. I felt a little better since it wasn’t near the kitchen area, but it was still a little disgusting. I have been back to that restaurant a few times, though.

  95. Oh dear. An Aldi just opened up here and I was sort of looking forward to checking it out.

    Hopefully since it’s brand new, it won’t have roaches. :p

  96. Sylvia says:

    I don’t know what I’d do without Aldi’s. I think one statement you made is so true. That could happen in any grocery store chain. Our Aldi’s is well organized and clean. We certainly couldn’t make it without Aldi’s. Please consider giving them another chance.

  97. Jon says:

    Your letting one bad experience from 20 years ago control the decisions you make today? I’m normally open to giving anything or anyone a second chance. I guess the “out of sight, out of mind” thing must ring pretty true. There are always going to be insects everywhere you go, its just a matter of whether you can see them or not. I hope no house guests ever see a bug in your house. They might not ever come back.

    I see more and more people making “choices” for the sake of “family safety”, when I think many of the decisions boil down to a pride, social status, “I deserve better” mentality.

  98. Theresa says:

    One night after we first moved into our old neighborhood, my husband and I ducked into this tiny,classic looking diner up the street. The waitress who served us had an open, bleeding wound on her face. I said something to her about the blood dripping down her face and she clapped her hand over the wound and contuned to take our order. We have never been back there. You don’t mess with blood.

  99. Jayowen says:

    Once when I was about 5 or 6 I had a Snickers when I was sick and soon after threw up.

    I have not been able to eat any food with peanuts in them since. I can eat the peanuts alone, or the food alone, but not when the peanuts are in the food. Even if I think peanuts are in the food my gag reflex starts.

  100. Katie says:

    Midsummer 10 years ago I got a Ceaser salad from a deli in downtown Chicago – I should have known better as I was sick for the next 3 days. It was 5 years before I could eat Ceaser salad again.

    I ordered a burger from Burger King with Ketchup and Mustard, and being night in the drive thru was 1/2 way home and 1/2 way through the burger before I started feeling sick – it was covered in mayo, which I’m allergic to. It was 2 years before I could eat Burger King again.

    I have to disagree with the earlier poster who said that if you work in any food job you will never eat there again – my first job was Portillos (a hotdog place here in Chicago) and they were very clean, and I still love their food. Everybody washed their hands, and it was very sanitary. Not every food service/grocery store is unsanitary.

    As far as Aldi goes, there is one about 2 blocks from our place, and we buy most of our stuff there. It cuts my grocery bill in half. There is a Valli Foods right next door to the Aldi that we’ll get produce at, and a Mejeir 1/2 a mile from that we get our non-generic stuff. I can’t remember the last time I even walked into a non discount grocery store.

  101. Kelly says:

    I agree that your choice to avoid Aldi’s is emotional, AND valid. You can get everything you want and need somewhere else with no loss to you. I also avoid eating lobster because I got so sick once from it (I was right on the coast, too, at a very upscale restaurant- very disapointing. Maybe I was on the wrong coast!)

  102. Rachel says:

    I totally understand your reaction. I own a restraunt and am constantly on my employees about cleanliness. (The local health dept. considers us one of the cleanest restraunts in town.) However if one person sees one bug, they would tell minimum of 12 of thier friends, and they would tell thier freinds. This doesn’t even take into account blogs like yours. Then we are out of business.
    I don’t go into any food establishment if I feel they are not meeting health code. I recently stopped eating at a fast food restraunt because they hired a former employee who was let go because he couldn’t seem to learn how to wash dishes correctly.
    (Aldi’s is one of the places I don’t go. Ours smells funny)

  103. Marcia says:

    We don’t have Aldi in CA, and my mom doesn’t shop at the one near her house (but my Aunt does).

    There’s a restaurant nearby that I won’t eat at, since I found ground up glass in my sandwich. My friends still go there.

    And there’s another burger place, that I used to go to once a month or so…that every, and I mean every, time I go, they lose my order. I go with 5-6 people, and I am left waiting 20 extra minutes because they lost my order (not a special order either!) I just don’t go there anymore either.

  104. Kate says:

    I like Aldi. In fact, it’s my favorite grocery store because of its fast turnover of product and cleanliness. The low prices are great, and most of the foods aren’t filled with high fructose corn syrup. We only have four or five Aldis in Wichita, and I like all of them. The managers are helpful, the stores are clean, and I’ve never had to bring food back. Plus, I like their environmentally friendly design and practice of encouraging customers to take a box with them instead of using a new bag, paying per bag, etc.

    If I had seen a bunch of cockroaches, though, I would have more mixed feelings about Aldi. I feel safer about small grocery stores that do a brisk business because there are fewer gaps in cleaning, service, inventory rotation, etc. A huge Dillons or Sam’s Club has dozens and dozens of employees who may or may not tend to their aisles as they should. :-)

  105. Juliska says:

    My boyfriend worked in a Kroger’s for many years. He is VERY picky about where we shop – not Kroger’s or any related store. His first job at Kroger’s, on his first day there, was stamping new expiration dates on packages. When he asked how they could do that, wasn’t it unsafe, he was told that expiration dates don’t really mean anything, they’re just a dumb legal requirement!

  106. partgypsy says:

    Here are my Aldi stories. 10? years ago there was an Aldi’s near our house. I go in with my significant other, and see they have chilidogs bundled together 2 to a pack, with a bunch of stickers on them, marked down from $1.50, to 75 cents, to 50 cents. They were still trying to sell those frigging things even though they were completely blackened on top from being so old. That disgusted me.

    On a different occasion my hubby then goes again by himself to the store, and tells he was walking up the aisle, and a mouse is running along the edge of the hallway, trying to find somewhere to duck in. An old lady sees it and keeps yelling at my husband to “Step on it! Step on it!”. He says, no, he wasn’t go to do that, but informs a clerk. Needless to say he didn’t buy anything. The store ending up closing. It may be true that store may have been particularly bad, but it ended up forming my impression for the brand.

  107. Sorry that happened to you. Disgusting! Go with your gut. If you’re not comfortable shopping there don’t!

  108. ozdust says:

    Each store is different, they either care or don’t. I like my local Aldi’s – more for frozen things and non-perishables. My local Giant (large chain) has a rampant mice problem which they choose to deal with by laying down poison under the aisle shelves – I mean really?!!

  109. Alex says:

    I haven’t shopped at Food Lion since one of their suppliers warned me not to buy anything perishable there.

  110. kz says:

    Well, sort of. Of course, my experience is with restaurants, not grocery stores, at the one I worked for the expiration date was only related to how long it had been in its present container. For example, dressing comes in huge tubs. To dispense for the customer, we’d pour small amounts into those syrup decanter-type things and label those with an expiration date. In two or three days, when that ‘expired,’ we’d dump what was left and fill it up again from the SAME tub. The dressing itself was perfectly fine – we went though it fast enough for that not to be a concern, as it certainly keeps longer than a few days – but there’s a small chance that the expiration dates on a lot of things is just completely arbitrary. I go by the food itself, not the expiration date. Sometimes milk will last for days past its date; sometimes it’s spoiling a few days before.

  111. kz says:

    Oops. “expiration dates…are just completely arbitrary.” Dang it!

  112. Rita says:

    I think you are well within your rights to avoid any brand after a bad experience. I do not go to Pizza Hut because the one in my home town I because I have heard so many stories from former employees and customers alike about roach problems. In fact, there was a story in the local paper about roaches in pizzas. I can’t even see a Pizza Hut commercial without feeling grossed out.

  113. Chiara says:

    Yeesh. I don’t blame you a bit and wouldn’t worry about leaving it as an “emotional” reaction that you’d rather not trigger. We do things for logical *and* emotional reasons, ’cause we’re humans, not Vulcans. :)

  114. Alice says:

    I’ve only been inside an Aldi once and I wasn’t impressed. Processed boxed and canned food, and questionable meats. Very cheap and poor quality.

    I won’t eat at Friendly’s, but not based on one particular experience. They smell like sour milk, and I can’t stand the idea that I may be sitting in leftover ice cream drippings. Ew!

  115. Tina says:

    Aldi’s always kinda creeped me out, but I’m just not sure why. I want to shop there for hte prices, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. :shrug I guess the roach thing is exactly what I an expecting…

    Here’s my nasty food service story. I was eating on the “patio” (really a backyard garden) at a great vegetarian restaurant in Chicago that has an alley right next to it. Suddenly, there is murmured commotion among the servers near the drink station — apparently a DYING RAT had wandered in to, um, die in peace, I guess? We *were* outside, and we *were* next to an alley, and Chicago *does* have a horrendous rat problem in the alleys, but ew. We don’t eat outside at that place anymore.

    It was funny listening to the servers trying to figure out what to do, though. Can’t kill it – it’s a VEGETARIAN restaurant! What would the customers say? :lol

  116. Aldon says:

    Forty years ago I was refused service at a Big Boy restaurant in Raleigh NC. They didn’t say anything; they just ignored me and never came over to take my order. It was more than 35 years before I went to Big Boy again. Even then I only did it because I was short of options on that particular late night.

  117. Sally says:

    I think others have said similar things. Your experience was emotionally traumatizing. I think that’s much less common than people who refuse to patronize businesses because of poor customer service. It doesn’t sound like you blame Aldi, but you’re traumatized, and the store brings back all those negative feelings.

  118. Heather says:

    A nightmare experience I’ve had was with the Uncle Ben’s instant rice bags, that you just open and put in the microwave. I bought one once, (my first buy, since I usually don’t buy premade foods like that) and after microwaving it, it was a disgusting mass of dark brown, naseous-smelling, unfamiliarly chunky, terrible smelling half liquid half chunks… it in no way resembled rice, or even food for that matter. The smell of the kitchen nearly made me vomit. A colleague suggested there had been a hole in the bag which ruined the preservation process or something.
    No reasonable knowledge could ever change my automatic reaction to the Uncle Ben’s rice packs. My personal experience has changed me forever. I understand your experience with Aldi, and how it can have an effect! It’s something we can all think about reasonably, but maintain our distance from all the same.

  119. Karen says:

    I normally never order meat salads (tuna, chicken, etc), or meatloaf, as I always think it’s leftover meats from the day before. Meatloaf sounded sooo good to me a few years ago at HOPS Restaurant, so I ordered it. I had the worst case of food poisoning. I cannot imagine eating at another HOPS and will never order meat salads or meatloaf again! A few years ago I also got the wrong prescription at CVS, and didn’t realize it until I took the first dose and was horrified to realize it was the wrong one (even though it had my name on it). Luckily it wasn’t damaging to me, but I’ll never use CVS pharmacy again. Bad experiences have stayed with me, so I truly understand your feeling.

  120. angie says:

    ***Okay, fair warning this could be gross***
    When I was about 10, my mom was helping a friend of my grandpa by driving him around and helping with some housework. He came over to our house for dinner once or twice a week during this time. He was an elderly gentleman and very hard of hearing and with poor eyesight.
    One evening, he was over for dinner and my mom had made chicken and rice of some sort. Just as we were all sitting down, my mom made a half-scream noise from the kitchen and said that there were maggots in the jar of rice. Gross. Worse, this elderly gentleman was already digging in and commenting on how “scrumptious” dinner was. She couldn’t tell him, he never knew and cleaned his plate, maggots and all.
    I still can’t make myself eat rice and may never be able to.

  121. Misty says:

    I don’t blame you Trent, things that happen like that at a young age have a way of sticking with you. Bugs used to never bother me but one summer, I woke up in the middle of the night to pee and a roach ran out from behind the toilet and ran into my bare foot. I hated roaches- seeing them, especially stepping on them- until I was in college. My school was very close to the water and “water bugs” aka bird-like roaches that fly-were unavoidable- so it was a fear that I needed to get over.
    My mom doesn’t buy milk from Sam’s Club anymore because it goes sour before the date stamped because they leave the freezer doors open too long, causing the milk to sour prematurely.

  122. I do think those things that happen to us when we’re young tend to stay with us. My son will soon turn nineteen and he still is frightened by spiders because of an incident when he was seven or eight.

    I shopped Aldi’s long ago for just a couple of months. I soon came to realize I could get far superior quality of my favorite items by checking the Sunday sales inserts for great sales and then stocking up when those items are on sale. Even the store brands were better than Aldi’s. Just our own taste in food, I guess.

    Aldi’s could have gotten much better since then but I don’t shop there, even though there is one not too far from where I live.

  123. SueO says:

    A friend of mine was a health inspector for the county, and she could always be counted on to direct us away from restaurants that could be a health risk. A good friend indeed!
    That aside, I often wondered how she could EVER trust going out to eat after seeing some of the atrocious conditions she’d find in some restaurants. She was mentally tuned as a health inspector every place she went. Once she told me about going grocery shopping with her sister and spotting a mouse run from behind a freezer. She ended up chasing it around the store and then fetching the manager to make him aware of its route.
    I think she grew to accept that germs are a way of life and all you can do was actively protect your own health & well-being in preparation of inevitable assault from the big, bad, unsanitary world.

  124. colleen c says:

    We have an Aldi and it is pretty nasty. While I love a good bargain, I find shopping there depressing and only go when forced to if our PTO is having some big event.

    Any type food from any store can have spoilage or a bug infestation. Reading about the legally allowable levels of bugs.rodent hairs,etc. in foods will make you SICK… Flour and rice are allowed to have a certain amount per pound. This is considered normal. I think one bug in my food is one too many!

    Unfortunately the bacteria that promote spoilage are not necessarily the same ones that promote illness… This means that food can make you ill long before it smells bad. I always worry that cheapo stores have poor refrigeration, raising the risk of foodborne illness. Yet I admit I have no proof of this.

  125. Susan in CA says:

    I’ve only been in an Aldi once in Michigan about 15 years ago. The food was stacked on pallets on a cement floor. The store wasn’t very clean and there wasn’t really much there. Hated the cash only, BYOBag thing. Wasn’t impressed at all. I’m amazed at the hoards of shoppers in our 99c only store. I guess they are trying to save on food since more money is being spent for gas. There is a large food section but the food is close to the expiration date or passed the date in some cases. I’m not willing to take the risk!

  126. I don’t think it’s an unreasonable reaction. Several years ago, I bought a package of Safeway-brand (store brand) hot dog buns, took them home, opened them up, and they were moldy. I decided then to never buy Safeway-brand bread again. (Now I buy organic bread anyway, to avoid HFCS, but that’s a different story.)

    One time I ate too many Bugles (snack chips brand) as a kid, and I’ve never been able to eat Bugles since.

    I think most people could cite a story in their lives that is similar. Rational or not, negative associations stick with us for a LONG time.


  127. Paul says:

    My wife has been a health inspector for several years now, her speciality is food service establishments, and we hardly ever eat out now. The things she tells me, even about “upscale” restraunts, will make your skin crawl.

    I’ve only ever been to Aldi once and didn’t have a bad experience. But I say go where your comfortable. If you save a few cents but can’t eat the food you just bought, what’s the point? Not to metion the trauma of just walking in the door.

    I haven’t eaten pork or pork products for about 8 years now. My father-in-law cooked up a bacon sandwich for me, insisting that the bacon was cooked all the way, and I very foolishly ate it. I can’t prove it was the bacon but since it was the last thing that I ate before I was hospitalized for 2 days, I can’t bring myself to even try it again. I doubt I ever will. Irrational? Probably. But you know what? It’s my body and my choice, as it is with you Trent.

  128. Louise says:

    We lived in the tropics when I was a young child. My mother used Noxema face cream in the dark blue jars. My brother used to catch cockroaches in the empty jars.

    To this day I cannot drink out of dark blue glass containers and the smell of Noxema makes me queasy!

  129. Jessica says:

    I would be so horrified if I saw all those roaches! I don’t blame you one bit!

    I will no longer eat a certain cereal just because I got sick after eating it. (I’m sure I was already sick and the milk made it worse) But it was on the day of my cousin’s wedding! I was supposed to be the flower girl but I couldn’t because a vomiting flower girl isn’t exactly acceptable. I still (unfairly) blame the cereal for making me miss that wedding. Silly, I know, yet still…

    And I’m glad to see I’m not the only person who has sworn off Bank of America… I currently have a credit card with them that will soon be paid off and closed! I was overcharged for something and when I called customer service they were extremely hateful and acted as though it was MY fault or as if I was trying to ‘steal’ something. The lady on the phone actually yelled at me! I’ve never been treated so badly by someone who was taking my money. I am taking my business elsewhere.

  130. Linda Goossen says:

    Boy, maybe we should all just stay home, and grow our own food. Oh wait, the bugs get into the fresh vegetables in the garden too! However, the cockroaches are awful!

    We were moving my MIL out of her house into an apt and when I opened a cupboard to start cleaning it out, there must have been a million or so, cockroaches that hadn’t seen the light of day in the 40 years she lived there! It wasn’t nice!

    She lived through the depression,and saved every butter container, pickle jar, etc. for years! They were all in her cupboards. Yuck! I hope my kids don’t find stuff like that when they clean out my house! LOL!

  131. Christine says:

    I don’t think you are missing anything. Their prices compare with Super Walmart. I trust Walmart’s products more too. I’ve had no experiences like yours. I’m still cringing.

  132. Macinac says:

    While in college I worked for a pest control company. I saw lots of cockroaches, rats, and mice in supermarkets and restaurants. My job was to kill them, of course, but we never ran out of work. A common place to find roaches was among the paper bags. You could even take them — or their eggs — home with you this way. The worst situations were in stores with slow moving stock, especially where they never threw out the canned goods that never sold. Another attraction for pests was the damaged goods pile in the back room.
    In one warehouse there were even mice inside the walk-in freezer, with thick arctic fur.

  133. Lou says:

    My sister worked at a Price Chopper grocery store & reported one of the teenage help being told to stir the deli salads, so they wouldn’t form a skin on top. That sweet child walked down the aisle stirring a salad then licking the spoon, stirring the next salad, licking again, stir, lick, etc., etc,

    I haven’t bought a deli made salad anywhere since the day I heard the story – about 6 years ago.

  134. As an occassional Aldi’s shopper, I have to say that I think the store has improved over the years and the selections and quality have as well. It is a bit of a haul to get to the store but it seems to be worth the gas money to stock up on needed supplies. Our local grocery store on the other hand often has outdated merchandise in the dairy section and nothing disgusts me more than realizing a product is expired. I can not and will not eat food past the date stamped. It’s a thing I have.

    I think people who shop at Aldi’s or are interested in checking it out should at least try some items. There are some things I will not eat from there- such as Bar-B hot dogs (yuck!) but the frozen pizzas are great and half the price of brand name pizzas!

  135. Diane says:

    I haven’t eaten a Dunkin’ Donut for 20years. We bought a box of Blueberry Donuts for a treat and we ALL were horribly ill. One bathroom. 5 people. I think I’ve made my point.

  136. Jane says:

    I walked into a Piggley Wiggley when I was pregnant and the smell of rotten meat made me extremely ill immediately. I tried other stores in that chain at different times and different years and they all stank of rotten meat. It isn’t just my imagination, they do stink. I finally quit trying to buy from them.

  137. Cathy E, Chicago, IL says:

    Angie: I cannot get past your story – totally grossing me out……..


  138. Lynne says:

    My personal feeling is to get over it. I have found bugs crawling in a bag of beans I just bought. I found a fly (fortunately before I ate) in my pudding based dessert at a restaurant. I know of other restaurants with mice or rat infestations, generally where buildings are connected wall to wall, roof space to roof space. If you want to know more, just check to see where local health inspectors have handed out citations. If these things affect you that much, and you can’t get over it even when companies fix the problem, then you have a bigger problem. Mice, insects, and even “dirty, or unwashed hands” by employees cause a number of citations all over the place. I can’t think of one single business where they would let a situation exist knowingly, because health inspectors drop in regularly, yet unannounced.

  139. When I was small I used to hate the sound of a Ford door closing.

    I’ve now bought about 6 different cars in my lifetime – but would never consider a Ford.

  140. Lenore says:

    Scientology claims it can cure negative associations like yours with the roaches, Trent, but it’ll cost you a lot more than shopping at upscale grocery stores. Can’t blame you for avoiding a traumatic memory like that!

    I hated Aldi’s as a kid because the checkers were rude, throwing merchandise into carts, denting cans and smashing loaves of bread. The Aldi’s I’ve been to in the last 10 years were on par with other grocery stores. Sometimes they’re handier to shop in because their smaller size makes finding staples quicker. Food quality and cleanliness have never been a problem, and some of their products (divine European chocolate) are superior to American equivalents.

    They truly are the cheapest source for food as long as you don’t mind trying something besides name brands, and they offer a double-your-money-back satisfaction guarantee. Maybe you could send your wife to shop there without you and only buy canned goods or thoroughly sealed packages. No floor mats, obviously. Cringe!!!

  141. DrFunZ says:

    For most of my life I have been careful about foods, overly careful. I wonder if the hotdog relish I opened two weeks ago is still good, if Mayo will be OK once I open it, if meat I cooked on a Thursday will be good on a Saturday. Mostly I end up tossing it out, wasting TONS of money. I am a single person and it is awful. Part of this comes from my upbringing – only M&D and me – and mom cooked enough for two meals which were eaten two days apart. We ate at home and it was predictable that the leftovers would get eaten. But life was simpler 35 years ago. Almost everyone ate at home, hardly anyone had meetings, ball practice, work, etc, so a predicatble evening meal was normal. But I can count the days I am home on a regular schedule on one finger! So, I never learned what “keeps” and for how long.

    I wish someone who is NOT asociated with the food companies would make a list of jarred foods an how long they can last in the frig. Like salsa, mustard, horseradish, jellies, ketchup, etc. so that people who do not eat these quickly do have to wonder.

    Finally, I have become a bit less fearful about what I eat – mostly after watching TV shows like Bizarre Foods and No Reservations. Also, reflecting on the fact that the truly poor – those in third world countries eat a bunch of stuff that we would consider “pests” as their regular diet. Or that those who crossed our oceans on ships ate potatoes with spots, breads that were moldy!

  142. cj says:

    The Aldi’s I shop at in Northeast Ohio, is very clean, and the employees are much friendlier than the clerks at the popular chains. The location of the store matters quite a bit as well. I have been in large chain stores that are located in less than desirable areas, and they are incredibly filthy with rotting produce, etc.

    Aldi’s partners with brand name manufacturer’s using a private label, so the difference you are getting by purchasing name brands from well-known chains is actually having more expensive trash.

    By the way, for all the snobs who would never think of shopping at an Aldi’s, you may be interested to know the German company who owns Aldi’s also owns the popular store Trader Joe’s
    which appeals to wannabees.

    So, psychology does play a part in choosing brands, stores, etc….but usually it has more to do with the ego.

  143. Shelley says:

    I suppose I’m in the ‘get over it’ camp. I do appreciate it was a disgusting experience, but it strikes me that so much of your financial journey has been of an emotional nature and that you have re-learned how to think about money. So why not relearn how you think about Aldis, based on more recent experience?

    Having read recently about Aldis on another of my favourite blogs (www.secondcherry.com) I made a point to drop by the store on the way home. I used to go more regularly but since I’ve left work, it’s not immediately convenient. Perhaps it’s just because they were about to close, or because I was primed and ready from your post to see something awful, but I was amazed at how spotless and sparkling the place was. And the prices were extremely competitive with my usual supermarket. I’ll definitely be returning to Aldis here in my neighbourhood.

  144. Holly says:

    I think that’s fair. I narrowly averted a panic attack in Aldi the first (and only) time I was in one when I realized the only way out was through the (very crowded) cash register lines. I ended up crawling under the cart corral and running the hell out of there.

    But that’s my personal issue. We all have them I suppose.

  145. CyanSquirrel says:

    Interesting, no one has mentioned that Aldi’s is the parent company of the beloved Trader Joes.

  146. LaVida Loca says:

    I can’t blame you for your “irrational” avoidance of Aldi. I cannot drink Coke out of a glass bottle (or any cola for that matter). When I was a kid my family would go for “Sunday drives” in the Southern CA back country. One particularly hot summer day we stopped at a country store and my step-dad brought out a bottle of coke for my sister and I to share. When we quickly finished downing it, we discovered a thick layer of mold in the bottom of the bottle. The store owner had just refilled a used, dirty bottle for us. We both threw up because we were so grossed out! Ewwwwwwww!!!! (Mind you this happened over 50 years ago and I still suspect dark soda in glass bottles….)

  147. Claudia I Baker says:

    I’ve not noticed any really great deals at Aldi’s most of the stuff is cheaper, but off brands and I’m not sure that I want to waste money on something we’ll just through out. I have picked up a few things of brands I’m familar with and their chocolate is great and very inexpensive for the quality. My husband bought the Bar B hot dogs, they are terrible! My daughter bought some also and even my son-in-law wouldn’t eat them –and he otherwise eats anything that’s put in front of him.

  148. Kate says:

    A few years back, a friend was visiting from out of town, and a group of us went out to an Olive Garden Restaurant. We wound up spending most of the evening at an Urgent Care center where the out-of-town guest was throwing up from food poisoning. None of the rest of us were affected, but none of us had had what she had ordered.

    Even at the time, the doctor couldn’t be sure she’d gotten it from the food at the Olive Garden. We had sat at the table for a long time after the meal; by the time we were ready to leave, she was feeling sick, and in fact barely made it to the restroom in time. The restaurant naturally didn’t charge for the meal, but I’ve never been back to an Olive Garden since then.

    Even if it wasn’t the food at that particular meal that made our friend sick, that will always be my first reaction to the thought of the Olive Garden.

  149. Andi says:

    Poor Trent!

    I loved our Aldi in Indiana, however, we mostly used it for canned goods & baking items & dairy, never for produce. But never had bug problems, expiration date problems or any of that.

    My mother-in-law used to do Aldi’s canned goods & she said they are EXTREMELY quality conscious.

    IMHO it is all in the store manager. I never shop at the Kroger in that same town b/c the bag boys only helped the cashier they liked (aka cute & flirts) so getting rung up was a nightmare.

    And we only eat at one local Taco Bell (there are three) b/c one smells bad (ew!) and one can’t get your order right.

  150. Vee says:

    I would never recommend buying fresh food at ALDIs, except maybe bread, as the fresh food is usually the same price as any other supermarket. With all other goods I stand by my previous statement.

  151. Beth says:

    As a previous ALDI worker, let me tell you that even ALDI employees refuse to purchase produce at those stores. Vegetables sit in the cardboard boxes all day, not sprayed or cooled or anything. They might switch them out mid-day, but that’s still not very appetizing.

    ALDI purposefully opens stores in low-income areas, since they know they will have more business there.

    The only thing I will say in their defense (I never have and never will shop there), is that a lot of stores are being “remodeled” to have more items stocked on shelves rather than the pallets. So bugs could be less of a problem.

    @CyanSquirrel: Sure ALDI owns Trader Joe’s, but every single thing about the company is different. It is managed and operated completely separate. (We never had Trader Joe’s items in our warehouse.)

    @Holly: Like Walmart, ALDI only has one or two registers open at a time to keep prices low. Even though cashier’s get paid close to $10/hr. In general, the wages for all positions are above average.

  152. Bill says:

    I worked at a K-Mart when I was in high-school/college. We had a Little Caesar’s Pizza chain inside the store that I frequented for lunch. One Saturday, some men showed up at Caesars to replace a water-heater that hadn’t worked in months. While hauling it out, 1 of the men saw a few cockroaches on his arm and dropped the water-heater. It cracked, and a few thousand roaches got unloaded into the store which was shut down by management within minutes.

    I was asked by management to assist customer’s in leaving the store as quickly as possible – and that’s what I did, I assisted some customers and walked right out into the parking lot with them, right into my car, and haven’t been back since the following week when I went to pick up my final paycheck. It should be noted that Caesar’s was back up and running in the 5 days it took me to get up enough guts to walk back in there and get that check.

    Thankfully I don’t think Little Caesar’s is around anymore – their commercials, “Pizza Pizza” used to make me nauseous. Every time that little cartoon Caesar character would stand there with two pizza’s on a spear, all I could see was two cockroaches on a spear. So I fully understand your issue Trent.

  153. Tanja says:

    I saw bunch of ants at Publix one day, I walked to the manager and told him, next thing I know manager and a worker are spraying shelf with Raid. Now that was wrong, it’s a grocery store. I still love Publix, and I still go there twice a week.

  154. Andreas says:

    20 years ago when I was looking for new shoes I visited a few cheap shoe shops. But I didn´t find a suitable pair and got nerved. Finally i realised there was a nail sticking out inside a shoe. I left the shop at once and never entered a cheap shoe shop again.

    Since then I only buy quality shoes that cost about 5 to 10 times more. Now it is easy to find a pair that fits. They look better, are more comfortable, survive much longer and get inexpensive reapairs by the manufacturer.

    I prefer quality whereever possible. But only if there are objective quality criteria. This way I save a lot of time, nerves, health and money.

  155. Don says:

    As a kid, I used to love those chewy peanut butter candies called Mary Janes. Once, I bought a few (a penny each back then), unwrapped one, and it was covered with at least 40 dead ants. Kind of stuck into the candy dead ants, not on top of the candy, if you know what I mean.

    So what did I do? I threw it away. I then opened the next one, and seeing no dead ants, ate it, and I seem to recall that I found it particularly delicious. Something about finding an ant-infested Mary Jane made me appreciate a non-ant-infested Mary Jane that much more.

    I still like Mary Jane’s, and never found another ant in one.

    Oops! Was I supposed to have been tarnished by the experience in some way to qualify to leave this post?

  156. Dom says:

    When I was about 8 years old, I was eating a burger at Friendly’s with my family. As I looked down at the burger, I noticed the garnish…moving!

    Being a young boy and 8 years old I picked up the garnish…and there was a giant green worm. I started yelling but my grandfather clamped my mouth and quietly called over the waiter. He got the manager and we all got free dinner. (I ended up just getting a grilled cheese sandwich…)

    To this day, I have this aversion to Friendly’s. I won’t even buy their ice cream at the supermarket.

  157. Harriete says:

    Once when my sister and I were trying on clothes in a JC Penney, we realized there was a funny smell and looked around only to find a human poop underneath the little bench! That was very nasty. I still check under the benches. Still wonder how it got there.

  158. ooohhitskaren says:

    I haven’t eaten at a White Castle since I took my mother there since she had never been..and I got instantly ill on one of their hamburgers…or should I say sliders. Its been over 22 years since I ate there…I have never had the desire to go back since.

    I am the same way about smoking..I was 10 when I was asking my dad all sorts of questions about his smoking..and he let me take a hit on his cigarette..and boy did I get sick..I couldn’t breathe…I’ve never touched one since.

    If something makes me ill…looking at it..or eating it..or whatever…I will stay away from it.

    So what happened to you when you were young at Aldi’s is perfectly normal in my opinion.

    I surely haven’t lost any sleep not eating at White Castle’s…probably better for me as well.

  159. Lee says:

    Twenty-five years ago I was eating spinach salad in a new upscale restaurant. Half-way through I glanced down at my next bite and noticed it was moving – the salad was crawling with leaf-hoppers! The waiter was notified, shrugged and asked if I wanted to try the spinach quiche since there wouldn’t be any crawling around on it. The audacity of some businesses! By the way, I only eat spinach salad that I have prepared myself.

  160. Lisa says:

    Hi! Anywhere you have food , you have bugs, & rodents.The aldi’s here is clean, friendly, the employees buy their food there too & the cheese & mayo type dressings are Kraft brand in Aldi private label.Water heaters often have roaches in them because they like the water ^ the heat.I live in Ohio & our Aldi stores here are clean, but sure any store or restaurant or even hospital for that matter has bugs & rodents.You may not see them, but they are there. Rats do swim into the toilets without drowning too. in high school home economics class, I learned the percent of bug pieces & rodent poop allowed in food. For instance, there are allowed 8 peices of rat poop per loaf of bread. Look up the govt. requirements. Where there are people, there is food & where there is food, there are bugs & rodents.Be glad there is still food & get less squismish. Lisa

  161. Lisa says:

    Hi, again! By the way, expiration dates being past do not mean the food is bad. My husband worked at an egg packaging company & when the eggs get expired dates , they are shipped back to the company repackages & redated, actually up to 2-3 times & for new dates of 3-4 weeks ahead. The dates are actually a sell by date, not a food is bad date. There is a new study out on food that really old canned ,I think it was over 50 years old & tested & no bacteria. Perfectly safe to eat.My uncle was in the military in KoreaN CONFLICT

  162. Lisa says:

    Hi, again! By the way, expiration dates being past do not mean the food is bad. My husband worked at an egg packaging company & when the eggs get expired dates , they are shipped back to the company repackages & redated, actually up to 2-3 times & for new dates of 3-4 weeks ahead. The dates are actually a sell by date, not a food is bad date. There is a new study out on food that really old canned ,I think it was over 50 years old & tested & no bacteria. Perfectly safe to eat.My uncle was in the military in KoreaN CONFLICT and they were served chickens that had been frozen with the guts, bowels & all in them in WW1. He said they stunk when unthawed from thre guts , but they ate them & no one got sick.I’ll try to find that study again & post the site. lisa

  163. Mary says:

    Once when I was 12 my Grandparents took my brother and I on a trip. We stayed in a hotel and in the morning the Cracker Barrel was right across the parking lot. We were so excited about the whole thing. We got up early, went to the Cracker Barrel for breakfast. I ordered a chocolate shake with my meal. The shake came. It looked fabulous. It had whipped cream and a cherry on top. Every kids dream to have for Breakfast. Did I mention we were with Grandma! I sipped my shake all through breakfast. We were about to leave so I hurried and finished my shake. There at the bottom of my glass was a big broken bright red fingernail. I cannot even look at a shake without feeling totally disgusted, not even one made in my own kitchen. I actually start to gag. I’ve never and will never step one foot into a cracker barrel ever again. Incidentally, I never told anyone about the fingernail as I was way too embarrassed and horrified.

  164. Beverly says:

    Went to a new Aldis in Florida two weeks ago. Saw a dead roach on the canned beans. I won’t Go back!!

  165. Julie says:

    Aldi stores in England are really quite nice – they have a limited range of goods but tend to stock good quality, no-name items and European specialities. I haven’t been to any Aldis in the US though, but I’d be inclined to give them a chance.

    Here in England, the supermarket you go to is an indicator of the social class you aspire to – upper middle class or wannabes go to Waitrose or Marks & Spencers, middle classes to Tesco, working classes to Asda or Morrisons. It’s a shame, but some people definitely judge others depending on whether they go to a posh supermarket.

    Aldi (and their competitors Lidl) used to be really looked down upon (I remember comments of “one step up from going through the garbage bags”), but they are now becoming very popular in the UK due to the recession, as they can cut 30% off a weekly shopping bill. There are still some people who look down their noses at the stores and are very prejudiced against them without even having gone in one. I enjoy shopping in the discount stores as I find them to be great value.

    A recent BBC programme did a taste test of the discount supermarket’s produce vs. high end retailers and the discount meal compared very favorably.


  166. steve says:

    @ “maggots in a jar of rice”
    and “maggot peeking out of a cherry I had bitten into and or/some lettuce”

    as an adult, it’s important to understand that that the “maggots” in a jar of rice are grain moth larvae. They are everywhere you keep grain. They will not harm you and are easy to kill by simply freezing the grain below 10F overnight or for day. They can be sifted out if there are a lot of them.

    There are people out there who will never see things that way, though.

    As to worms on produce, that happens. Why it massively grosses you out is for 2 reasons: a) You live in an industrialized food system where you rarely see anything being grown and so don’t realize that worms such as this are totally harmless and 2)the industry has done its best to kill bugs that would consume vegetable crops with insecticide, so you rarely see them.

    If you have ever been to an organic farm or farmer’s market, or have gardened, you will see inchworms and such on your lettuce, kale, cabbage etc. You will also see holes on the leaves, which indicate that the leaves didn’t have POISON on them and were nutritious enough for a bug (most likely a beetle) to want to eat. You will also find that the vegetables with the occasional inchworm on them and the collard green leaves with multiple holes in them are actually the tastiest and most nutritious. The ones in the supermarket that look “perfect” are actually second or third rate, unfortunately.

    It is normal for some portion of produce to be consumed by insects is a more balanced way of looking at it.

  167. reasona says:

    I went to Aldi in Harvey, Illinois to buy a gallon of milk on January 20, 2009. The expiration date on the milk was January 23, 2009. There were only three or four gallons of milk on the front crate behind the door so I asked the manager to give me a gallon in the back with a longer expiration date. She said that she could not because it is an Aldi rule that they have to sell all the milk in the front first before they pull milk from the back. Who in the world would buy a gallon of milk and try to drink it up in three days! It’s just me and husband and sometimes granddaughter maybe twice a week. I don’t even cook with milk enough for this not to be a waste! I was soooo mad. Anyway, I went to a store where it’s alright to give customers the service and quality of merchandise their money pays for.

  168. Healey says:

    This article is kinda old, but I felt the need to comment!

    I can not bring myself to ever go to a ColdStone again. I can fully admit that it’s irrational, but I can’t help it. In fact, I’m usually reluctant to tell my story to people because so many of my friends really love the place and I don’t have anything against the chain.

    I don’t think it was their fault (long story short, there was something in my ice cream; the second attempt also had it, so it was determined the whole batch, which came from another location, was bad. They threw it out as soon as they realized). They reacted in the appropriate manner I would expect from good customer service (the manager was immediately responsive, apologized profusely, gave me the money back for both my order and my mom’s, which was fine, without hesitation while also offering free replacements). But, if I ever tried to eat there again, I know I would not enjoy it because I’d be waiting for something to pop up.

    I hold no ill will towards them (it’s amazing the difference customer service can make). In fact I wish it had never happened because darn their ice cream looks good for an occasional splurge!

  169. juls says:

    I have worked for aldis the past 5 years. When I started it was a brand new warehouse and honestly I really was not sure what I was in for. I had never heard of the company and they only had 19 stores in michigan, but the pay was GREAT so I gave it a try. Since then we have opened 27 more stores and planning on opening more in the near future. Aldis is a Great company to work for and we get raises yearly. This day and age it is hard to find a good company to work for, they really take care of there employees. As far as shopping I love it the prices the food and the people at the stores. We carrie many brand name items just with our privite lable on them. The warehouse is extremly clean and we always get the highest ratings when it comes to cleanlyness. So I hope you give the new Aldis a try, it may surprise you.

  170. ed bates says:

    I used to love oriental restaurants until one time the sweet sour sauce which was normally red, was brown. Sick as a dog. The next and last restaurant served a band aid in the salad. Now I eat at home.

  171. Andrea says:

    I do apologize for the fact I have been laughing hysterically at all of your horrible experiences.
    I too have had horrible experiences. Roach attacks every time I watch Star Trek, I did stop watching just because I am seriously not a fan, hair in my pizza, rock in the chili that broke my molar in half, cigarette ashes in my water, not enough tequila in my margarita etc, etc.

    The world is not a perfect place I am grateful that the majority of the time growing up I had food.

    Before you burn ONE bad experience into your brain do remember they might just own other stores or chains like ALDI owns Trader Joe’s. Which has been previously mentioned but I will say it again since Trader Joe’s products have been supported on THIS site.

    I agree with the posters who said “get over it” and it is all your “ego”. I feel the need to say shame on you Trent. There are people right now who need your help and encouragement not your ego or you personal bad experience judging where they acquire their food!

    I have been reading your material since I saw it on MSN. I even posted here how I tell all my friends or anyone even breathing about finances to come to this site. Well, no more. I am too nauseated by my bad experience and will not be coming back!

  172. Amanda says:

    I once happened upon a roach in a bowl of Cambell’s soup. My mom wrote them a letter to complain. They sent her coupons for more soup. Go figure. Why would we want more soup?

    I recently ate at a Johnny Carinos, and my husband and I were sharing a salad. As he was eating, i noticed an aphid crawling on a lettuce leaf. Though the manager and waitress apologized profusely, they did NOTHING to make it right financially–they didn’t even comp the salad!!!

    I think God has given us this defense mechanism to protect ourselves, so we should never feel guilty about it. Experience speaks a lot louder than logic a lot of the time.

  173. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Andrea, it’s good to know that you prefer sites that aren’t honest with their readers!

  174. thriftee says:

    Trent, consider giving Aldi another try. I have visited many Aldi stores, and like all chain groceries and restaurants, the looks and quality vary according to many things — the area of town, management’s attitude, the day fresh bread and produce comes in. Aldi is a huge grocery chain in Europe, called Hofner. I applaud the company for staying open in ‘rough’ areas where there are no other grocery stores or places for people to buy fresh produce — a huge complaint of inner city residents. They are making food affordable to the poorest Americans and helping thrifty people save money. The quality is perfectly good, and they will refund double your money if you are not satisfied. I don’t work for Aldi but I’m lucky to have three of them situated on my daily rounds, all of them are good. I have been to one in a nearby depressed area that was a bit gloomy but did not feel unsafe — everyone in Aldi is there to feed themselves and their family. My neighbor who is facing personal bankruptcy is too good to shop at Aldi, but he hates the high-end groceries and their inflated prices and bitches constantly about it! Aldi can’t be beat for pantry staples, dairy, and frozen food. I’m fussy about meat and buy direct from a country butcher, all my produce comes from a real farmer’s market, not a suburban food fair.
    The mega-groceries are brightly lit, exhaustingly huge to navigate, and are packed with overpriced convenience and junk food. I miss small town grocery stores, they were just right!

  175. Liz says:

    Trent, I think you have a perfectly valid point and your reaction is perfectly understandable.

    I live a couple miles away from an Aldi’s and have shopped there on occasion, usually for non-perishables. And so far, I’ve not had a problem with those products. I’ve avoided their produce and perishable items from the day the store opened, though, because I get a gut feeling that they aren’t as fresh as they need to be. My sister-in-law shops there regularly and buys a wide variety of their products, which I’ve had occasion to sample at family gatherings. After that, I can say that I probably wouldn’t buy those same products myself, not because they’re spoiled, but because the quality is noticeably cheaper than even a store brand. Compare Heinz or Bush baked beans to the Aldi version, for example. Aldi’s tasted like navy beans in very watered down ketchup. Unappetizing!

    What bugs me more than the products are the Aldi cashiers. Maybe it’s just this particular store, but every time I’ve visited, they hardly acknowledge my presence, make very minimal eye contact, always seem to be in a perpetually bad mood and in general seem to barely tolerate their customers.

    Yes, I know their parent company also owns Trader Joe’s, but except for a few crossover products – for a couple weeks after it first opened, this Aldi’s had great deals on 2 pound bags of Jasmine and Basmanti rice – it bears no resemblance to it. It must have been their version of a marketing ploy, because I’ve not seen either kind of rice there since.

    On the other hand, we do have another discount grocery chain in our area of western PA called Save-a-Lot. I will say that I also steer clear of buying frozen foods, meats or produce at this store, but for non-perishables and paper products, it’s great, and a less expensive alternative to our resident mega grocery chain, Giant Eagle.

    Keep up the good work, Trent!

  176. Andrea says:

    Trent, I had been meditating on my post here as of late and thought, I give everything else a second chance, why not Trent, he has not really ever let me down before.
    I was flattered to discover that you know every single website I visit. WOW your good!
    Armed with that knowledge you would know Trent that I prefer sites that are not honest with their readers. And that this was the only site I ever made time to read. (Oh and Burdastyle, you are right they are rather dishonest.)

    Your reply made me see how important your readers are to you. But I forgot your site is for entertainment purposes ONLY because it is not funny.

    Censor away Trent and keep up the positive, there are people in developed countries who look at maggots and say “oh good, protein!”


  177. Nora says:

    Hi Andrea,

    This is Nora from BurdaStyle. We always strive to being honest and transparent. Please send me a note about your thoughts on why we are dishonest.


  178. wickham says:

    I understand where you are coming from. When I was a kid, I bought a Baby Ruth candy bar from a hospital cafeteria vending machine. I took one bite, and then happened to look down at the bar, and noticed the white maggots tunneling through the chocolate and caramel. I’ve never eaten another Baby Ruth bar.

    That said, I love Aldis, which just came to our area last year. I’ve always managed to stretch our grocery budget by shopping for particular items at various stores, including Wal-mart, Winn-Dixie, and Dollar General. When Aldis arrived, I visited as soon as I was able. No other store can beat their prices for eggs (79 cents a dozen), whole milk (2.29), whole wheat bread (99 cents), frozen whole fruit/berries, and their regular every day prices for pantry staples meet or beat the store brands. I have only made one purchase I regretted and that was for the canned mixed vegetables – had no carrots as it was supposed to, and the potatoes were smushy. Other than that, everything I have purchased there has been great.

    In fact, in recent weeks, I have been working with an extremely tighter-than-tight budget, and thanks to Aldis, I spent my limit of $50 each week for two weeks, exclusively at Aldis, and fed our family of five three square home-cooked meals a day, and even had a little bit of money to splurge on a couple of boxes of Devils Food Cake mix (89 cents each) and a couple of bags of their version of Doritos, which at 99 cents a bag for the same size bag of $3.99 Doritos means I will rarely ever buy Doritos again.

    Plus, my kids get to an additional chance to learn how to work as a team and solve problems – watching them deal with all the groceries, and having to reorganize them into another cart, and sort them – it wears them out, but it is good for the soul.

  179. BD says:

    This post (and all the comments) is AWESOME. It was so much fun reading through everyone’s bad experiences with food… I admit it, i giggled.

    My own bad experiences include: Making hot chocolate as a kid, and drinking a few mouthfuls…and feeling something in my mouth that felt like little bits of rolled up paper. I rolled them around on the roof of my mouth with my tongue, wondering if some paper had gotten into the hot chocolate. I looked down at my cup and noticed that there were little white things WRIGGLING on the surface! GAH! Tiny little larvae of some sort! (Grain Moth? Flour Beetles? Who knows!) I spit out the hot chocolate in my mouth and dumped the rest out of the cup. Took a good look at the empty package, and noticed tiny holes in it, where the beetle/moth had eaten its way in to lay its eggs. Now I know to look for holes in any grain/flour/chocolate product that sat on the shelf too long. Didn’t stop me from drinking hot chocolate though. I’m just careful now. :)

    Went through a small period of not being able to eat steak or chicken after Poltergeist first came out, due to some of the graphic scenes in that movie involving steak and chicken. Again, I was a small kid. Now if I saw the movie again, it wouldn’t affect me at all.

    And, stopped eating at the Wendy’s in St. George, Utah after getting severe food poisoning there. Any other Wendy’s is fine.. just not THAT one. 0_o

    For all you commenting on roaches, I had to giggle…I own four Madagascar Hissing Roaches as pets. They’re really sweet critters.. honest!

  180. Christine says:

    Still laughing picturing mice with extra thick coats in the food freezers. I agree we are too wierded out by bugs on food. Worms I can handle but cockroaches not so much. Maybe cockroaches just have an image problem. Also food doesn’t go bad as quickly as we think, but I’ve never had a bad experience like food poisoning. If I did I’m sure I’d feel differently!

  181. Sadie says:

    OMG that is horrible!!

    So sorry you had to experience that, EW!

    Anyway, I was interested in that article and some of the responses, simply because I am an Aldi employee in the UK. Now before you swear at the screen and scroll down, I am not about to try and convince you how amazing Aldi is and scold you for disliking it…

    Basically, I think that it is totally legit to not go back to a store or service if you had a bad experience. I think, no, I KNOW, that it is the staff that are hired that can ruin the experience for so many people.

    In my store, we have strict but fair managers. If something is found out of date by a customer or staff member, it will be resolved straight away (e.g. The whole chiller/produce/bread etc.products are checked all over again, we offer customers refunds, exchanges, discounts etc.).

    I cannot IMAGINE being able to work in a dirty store, we are all constantly cleaning here!! We take pride in working for Aldi.

    I remember visiting another store out of town (Aldi), and OMG was it bad. The store seemed dingy and dark, there were boxes everywhere, and we (customers) were left waiting at an empty till for 10 mins, while a staff member was tidying!

    In our store, as soon as a customer arrives, we are there at their service. Aldi is known for speed and efficency, like hell in this store!

    So anyway, I guess it is hit or miss with Aldi, depending on which store you go to. And that should not be the case!

  182. Jen says:

    When I was a kid my family participated in a walk-a-thon that took us across town, where we had lunch, then back to the starting point. Lunch was at Burger King. I really wanted a roast beef sandwich, but my mom and dad weren’t convinced I would eat all of it. I assured them over and over again that I would, so they relented and let me order it. So… OF COURSE it was green. I kid you not the roast beef was green. I refused to eat it then, and I have NEVER ordered anything but a breakfast ham and cheese croissandwich (or whatever they call it) from Burger King again.

    These days I have no worries about my food. We order all our meat from local farmers in bulk (grass fed beef, pastured pork and chicken), and we purchase our produce through a CSA. We purchase raw milk, cheese, pastured eggs, and other organic groceries through a local delivery service. We eat at home 99% of the time, and usually regret the 1% of the time that we don’t. I agree with the previous comments that say “bugs happen”. They do, and it means that your food hasn’t been sprayed with petroleum based poison. Be happy for the bugs… if they will eat it, then it’s safe for your family to eat. Yes, it’s a bit more expensive (not as much as you think though), but I KNOW where my food comes from. I don’t worry about all the food recalls, and eating this way is an investment in our health.

    Sorry Aldi, I only buy storage/freezer bags, and garbage bags there on occasion.

  183. Chere says:

    Wow! What reactions. nobody likes dirty stores. But I buy A LOT of stuff at our Aldi’s in Memphis, they’re spotlessly clean and friendly. The security guard loaned me $15 1 x when I had forgotten my debit card!

    I also enjoy buying meat through Westwind Farms, a certified organic grower based in Middle TN, I work at the local Farmer’s Market here in Memphis on Saturday a.m.’s and I trade my hours for meat or fresh milk. While I can’t afford to buy all my meat from them, it’s a great trade, I meet cool people and learn a lot. It also satisfies my need for “selling” and learning about customer service.

  184. Stephanie says:

    I don’t shop at Aldi’s very often simply because it’s a bit out of my way but I have never really had a bad experience there. I have seen some produce that wasn’t as fresh as it should be, but it didn’t bother me, I just didn’t buy it. I would say that the roaches probably came along with the shipment of floor mats rather than being in the store already, but you never know. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not shopping there if you have a bad association with it. I stopped going to a Burger King that my family used to go to quite often because a manager there loudly and repeatedly accused me of trying to get free onion rings when I went back to the register to say I hadn’t gotten them. This man practically screamed for the whole restaurant to hear that I had not ordered a combo meal and was not entitled to free food just because I thought I could “get away with it” even though I had my receipt that clearly showed I had purchased the meal. I have never been back to that Burger King since the incident and it’s been 8 years. The same manager probably isn’t even there any more, but I can’t see myself going there.

  185. Carol Jackson says:

    Can’t resist telling my “horror” story in hopes it will prevent someone else. When I was in nursing school we ate at a buffet (we all had very little money). I was at the table when a fellow student bit into a very large strawberry, to find a live insect inside. Screams all around. I still eat strawberries, but am very, very careful to cut the large ones in half.

  186. Mary says:

    About 15 years ago I had a turkey dog. The next day I got sick & when I vomited it tasted like turkey dog. Haven’t been able to eat one since.

  187. Diana says:

    Though I enjoy the savings at Aldi I do know never to get their meat. I haven’t had any problems with them except that I don’t think the meat is properly treated…..it tasted funny to me. However, I no longer eat meat so it’s not a problem. For my husband I now get quality meat either raised by my family free of hormones and antibiotics.

    I always check carefully all expiration dates and the produce for any age. I know the savings there come from having less staff and less sparkle but I can appreciate what they have for what it is.

  188. tentaculistic says:

    Oh these stories are so gross!! The ones that gross me out the most are the ones involving not one or two little buggies, but a flood of them. Ugh. Trent’s floor mats, the tipped-over kitchen table, and the unused water heater – all spilling out a flood of roaches. Oh that is just so gross, I’m gagging (again!) just thinking of it! Erk.

  189. liz says:

    I love Aldi – the produce is very fresh with a big turnover and the milk in the Tinley Park IL Aldi s is $1.59. The lettuces are wonderful and are in the cooler. I personally dont like all the spraying that goes on on top of veggies at the bigger supermarkets. I only buy very basic things anyway (crap is crap where ever you purchase it) I buy bags of Aldi oranges all winter.

  190. Bela says:

    There are several Aldi’s in my area and at the risk of sounding racist or whatever, I find that the general demographic of the neighborhood tends to affect the quality of the store itself. There are some Aldi’s I will go to and some I will not. But I have found the same to be true of Wal-Mart, Bi-Lo, Food Lion, etc. It has a lot more to do with the neighborhood the store is in than the name on the building. The quality of the employees and the expectations of the customers have a big influence on how clean or well-managed a store is. If employees and managers don’t care and people don’t complain and threaten to take their money elsewhere (and do it), then the store will go to hell in a handbasket.

  191. RaW says:

    Taco Bell. I got food poisoning twice, two different outlets, years apart. There are simply too many other choices and food poisoning is too horrible for me to ever choose to go back. May be unfair, may not.

    Also had a bad experience with tequila once. Couldn’t stomach the smell of the stuff for about 8 years. But that was entirely my fault. @8~Q

  192. April says:

    I had a similar experience with Aldi about 20 years ago or so. Well, more like a mouse issue than a roach, but I digress. My husband and I hit hard times during this recession and with medical bills piling up we had to cut budget! I decided, very hesitantly, to try our local Aldi. I remember, much as you do, growing up in severe poverty and having to settle for Aldi, which made me feel impoverished even THINKING of going in there. A good friend convinced me things have changed, and BOY have they. At least at our local Aldi. It is phenomenal. I went in and the first thing I did was grab a cashier. Not a manager because it is their job to increase the bottom line. The cashier, Linda, was great. She walked me through the store (I went during off peak hours just for this reason) and pointed out things that are good and items to avoid. All their dairy is Prarie Farms, their poultry is Perdue. It is a great place to purchase dried pantry items such as lentils, pasta, and beans. Our Aldi also offers quite the variety of stock spices that are commonly used. The items she told me to avoid were the potted meats, stews, and chili (Spam if you will) because their brand seems to be saltier. She said to watch thier canned veggies because it may still contains some stems. I’ve had that problem with Walmart brand veggies so nothing new. My Aldi carries fresh fruits and veggies and I saw no fruit flies! They also carry some items I wouldn’t think to find at Aldi, such as hummus, brie, and smoked salmon. Mind you, I live in a small community in Indiana and each Aldi location is different, but I say why not step inside yours. Just observe what you see first. Is the store in shambles or organized? Are there flies buzzing? Are the employees well kempt? Browse thier selection. You don’t have to buy anything right away. Think of it as comparative shopping. Worse that can happen is you waste a few minutes of time.

  193. Mary says:

    I completely understand that queasy feeling that keeps you from coming back.

    However, I love Aldi. I read a lot of the comments and many people were hating on it. I completely understand your reaction, but I felt it fair to give Aldi a thumbs up from me.

    Their prices are awesome, their store is easy to navigate (at least the one I go to), and they have many of the staples I use. I would also like to mention that Aldi gets it’s stuff from the exact same places as Walmart, Kroger, etc, they just put their own Aldi label on it. So, those lima beans you bought at Walmart, are probably the exact same ones you could have bought at Aldi.

    Anyway, I’m sorry so many people have had bad experiences, but I heart Aldi. For my family, it works very well.

  194. CD says:

    I avoid Lidl (similar to Aldi) after having worked there for nearly a year… Mind you, all stores might be different, but having seen the way that fridge products are dealt with I make sure I won’t buy there, and have developed a little “trick” to buy fridge items.

    Items that need to go into freezers will come into freezer containers. However items that need to go into fridges will come in pallets, straight from the warehouse. The warehouse for the specific store I worked at was about 2 hours away drive. Obviously we’re not including there the time picking and loading items on to pallets. Then the delivery would come, and sometimes all staff would be busy in tills, so another two or three hours would easily go by without the fresh products having been put on their shelves. This greatly reduced the quality of any product from the fridges (think bacon, milk, salami, and the like).

    On top of this there was the issue of the “shopping back”: this is when you pick an item to buy it, then later change your mind and leave it elsewhere. Part of the tasks of the staff is to pick all the items that are misplaced and put them back on to their place. Well guess what… fridge and freezer items would also go back, even if they had been standing out of their places for the full day (putting the shopping back would only take place after the store was closed at night). You can think how this affects the food – milk which has been out of the fridge for some 5 hours, has gotten warm, then gets put back into the fridge again – then you buy it and wonder why it smells funny when the expiry date is three days away…

    My personal trick is to never take the item at the front of a row – those are usually the ones that have been put back, plus they will have a closer expiry date. Dig in to the end of the row and get a fresh item which is unlikely to have suffered put back and which will have a later expiry date.

  195. Sam says:

    I avoid Aldi because the two in my area have spoiled produce & tend to smell like rotten food. About 7yrs ago a freind stopped at one while she & I were out together.
    I needed an onion for dinner that night & grabbed bag of them – figuring I was being too biased against them. You can imagine my horror when I few minutes later my son noticed bugs crawling around the ones in the bottom of the bag i was walking around holding. My friend abandoned her cart & we left. I’ve never been impressed by their prices or quality enough to try again – but we don’t eat processed food so they don’t carry much that we’d use.

    I have heard that they usually have clean stores. My Aunt in Chicago shops there almost exclusively so maybe it’s a local management thing. I don’t know.

  196. SwingCheese says:

    Blech!!! I hate roaches, and if I’d seen what Trent saw, I would never set foot in an Aldis again, either! That having been said, I’ll shop at Aldi for staples – flour, sugar, vanilla, etc. – and munchies. When I was in grad school, I used to also buy dairy and frozen products at Aldi. The store in Iowa City even carried the frozen Boca vegetarian line, which my husband and I both loved!

    But I have to disagree about roaches in restaurants. Bugs will happen, especially with veggies. But roaches are not a given simply because a place works with food. My husband spent over a decade in the food service industry. I’ve asked if roaches are present in all restaurants, and he said no, the better restaurants that employed him did not have roaches anywhere. It may be different in warmer climates, but in areas like Iowa, where it freezes for a good period of the year, roaches should not be assumed.

  197. Kathy Robinson says:

    If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, grocery, or anywhere that food is prepared, stored, or sold (ex: dairy, bakery, movie theater, nursing home), you quickly realize the pervasiveness of unsanitary and downright disgusting conditions. It’s true of upscale restaurants, right down to the fast food places and the cut-rate Aldi’s.

    I wanted to mention too, that food-poisoning symptoms typically take 48 hours plus to manifest. The e-coli (or whichever bug) needs time to replicate. It’s not possible to eat a sandwich and then have food poisoning from it a half-hour later–which does make me wonder why so many of us have that instinctive aversion to whatever we ate shortly before becoming sick. The real culprit would be something eaten 2-3 days earlier.

  198. deborah says:

    The Aldis I’ve been in here are clean, well organized, and very pleasant. I have seen some less than fresh produce, but no more than at other stores.

  199. Michael G says:

    In the first bowl of canned mixed greens (Glory foods from wal mart) I had in my life I found a grasshopper leg. I lost my appetite. I emailed them and they sent me back a handwritten apology letter, 3 one dollar bills, and a coupon for any one of their products. The can cost me like a dollar so I considered it compensation enough.

    Unlike you guys though I ate another can. They were pretty good in my opinion.

  200. Susan says:

    I’ve had a couple bad experiences with Bank of America, I used to have both business and personal checking accounts with them, but I REFUSE to do business with them anymore. One time I waited in the drive-thru line for over 40 minutes to cash a check, then even though I’d dealt with that teller several times before, I had to send my license to the teller thru the vacuum tube and she never returned it, and it took me days of calls and visits to the bank to get my license returned. (Now, HOW can I show them my picture I.D., when THEY have it???? And can’t they match my license picture with my face in front of them??? ) My father had his checking there as well, and when he died, even tho I was named executor and was a co-signer on his account, they froze his account and I had to get an attorney to get the funds released. When he put me on as cosigner, the customer service rep at the bank assured us I would have use of the funds (that was my father’s idea, he wanted me to use the funds for his funeral expenses), but this SAME lady told me after my father passed away that she couldn’t release the funds without “proper authorization”. I now deal with two smaller banks, and I LOVE Atlantic National Bank, they are a small bank here in the south, and they all recognize me and call me by my name when I go in, and don’t whack me with a bunch of junk fees. I never have had to wait in line, and their online bill pay is great. And Big Bad Ole Bank of America can kiss my sweet patootie!!!!! P.S. Trent, love your blog, but fair warning, if you ever ask folks their thoughts on B of A, you’ll never hear the end of it….

  201. Rae says:

    Kathy Robinson: in regard to the 48 hrs for food poisoning to appear — that is often true, for common types of food poisoning, but not always. For instance, staphylococcal poisoning, also common, presents in 30 min to 8 hours. Scombroid poisoning in 5 minutes to 1 hour! Thankfully, it’s rare.
    Andrea: I found this comment offensive. I don’t understand why Trent is criticized for just telling a story. He was very fair and said it was an isolated case many years ago, and just that one Aldi’s, and that he really hesitates to even tell the story. He is just answering questions he has been asked! People become so sensitive, somehow feeling personally criticized, when it has nothing to do with them. Keep up the excellent work, Trent. I value your posts very much.
    As to my own experiences, I lived in LA for 16 years, best Thai food in the nation, FANTASTIC, and sometimes had to put up with the sight of a few roaches to keep going to the tastiest places. LA restaurants often seemed to have them. Very dirty city, I felt. Haven’t found that in 2 years in Austin yet, and this is the hot humid South.
    In general, I like to shop farmer’s markets, get food in limited amounts in bulk bins at HEB or whatnot, for just the week or month, where I can SEE if there are weevils, and I can also be sure I don’t waste what I’ve purchased. I soak all grains before using (to get rid of phytic acids, etc.), and that gives the weevils a chance to float into sight first, plus makes the grain more digestible. We wash produce well, the Mexico way (learned on vacation there, but using apple cider vinegar solution instead of diluted bleach). The simpler and more locally, sensibly you eat, the more you can control the qualit/cleanliness of your food, AND still afford to eat well.

  202. Charles Cohn says:

    I don’t have problems with food very often (I pride myself on having a cast-iron stomach), but last year on a Carnival cruise ship I ate something for dinner (I don’t remember what) that, that evening, my body sent back the way it had come in.

    The next morning I went to the ship’s doctor when her office opened. I was hoping to find a big crowd there, because that would mean that a lot of people were similarly affected and there would likely be a juicy lawsuit. However, no such luck, I was the only one there. Since I was by then fully recovered, there was nothing for the doctor to do.

  203. jane says:

    About 10 years ago a new Argentinean beef chain restaurant opened a branch here and one of my friends and her family went for the grand opening. While they were there a different customer vomited all over the place and everyone there saw it happen. I think everyone must have told all their friends who then, like me, felt revulsion and never went there, because that particular branch went out of business very fast. I think it never had a chance. The sad thing was that the customer was probably sick when they sat down and their vomiting had nothing to do with the restaurant’s food.

  204. Lisa says:

    I live in NYC and for years would go down to Chinatown to buy dried Chinese pork sausage. One time, guess about 20 years ago, I bought a piece in a grocery store I’d never patronized before. It was vacuum-sealed in heavy plastic, so I didn’t have to use it right away. My husband and I went on vacation, and I left the sausage, still sealed, in the meat drawer; about a week after we got back I went into the drawer and saw a weird, football-size plastic thing, and had no idea what it was (I’d forgotten about the sausage). I picked it up, looked at it, screamed and dropped it in the sink, before getting a plastic bag and tongs, throwing it in the bag and running it down to the trash. What I saw was a long, pinkie-thick black worm wrapped around the sausage; I can only conjecture that it was in the meat (in much smaller size), grew, ate its way through the casing and died from lack of oxygen; the gases from its decomposing body caused the plastic to swell, but luckily it was very tightly sealed and did not blow. Never gone near the stuff again. Roaches, mice, no problem. Big black worms? BIG problem!

  205. Rebecca says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading the comments, even more than the post itself!

    When I was young I woke up very hungry in the middle of the night one night. I grabbed the first thing I saw in the fridge, which was a gigantic bowl of shredded cabbage. I ate almost all of it and immediately started to vomit. I don’t think it was food poisoning, just that I ate too much, or was already sick. It doesn’t matter that is wasn’t the cabbage’s fault, I still have trouble eating it sometimes.

    Honestly, not all gut reactions are unreasonable. My freshman year of college I often got lunch at the BK right by the campus. When their ‘chicken fries’ first came out I decided to give those a shot. Felt terribly sick afterward. A few months later I decided to try the chicken fries again, and again I felt sick after eating them. When I called my professor to let her know that I was sick and couldn’t come to class, she told me that she got sick after eating the chicken fries too. It just isn’t worth trying some things again.

    “Once when my sister and I were trying on clothes in a JC Penney, we realized there was a funny smell and looked around only to find a human poop underneath the little bench! That was very nasty. I still check under the benches. Still wonder how it got there.”

    This happens more than you would think. Someone went into the dressing room and decided to use it as a bathroom. Heck, back when my husband worked at a chain bookstore he told me about a guy who was walking around the bookstore, dropped his pants, and pooped in the reference aisle. O_O

    Having worked in retail for a while, people can be very, very, very nasty. You really don’t want to hear some of the stories I’ve heard and experienced when it comes to cleaning public bathrooms. Apparently it is extremely difficult to use the toilet like a normal person.

    “I agree with the posters who said “get over it” and it is all your “ego”. I feel the need to say shame on you Trent. There are people right now who need your help and encouragement not your ego or you personal bad experience judging where they acquire their food!”

    You are the only one who said that it was all his ego. A learned aversion has NOTHING to do with ego. It is normal psychological response, and when it happens to kids it is even harder to get rid of. Nobody but you is being judgmental here! :-/ Seriously, stop trying to shame people for not wanting to eat bugs.

  206. Jonathan says:

    It was great reading a number of the other replies, and it’s even better seeing we’re still replying to this post years later.

    The one shopping experience I’ve had where I’ve never rectified it was actually at a higher-end clothing store, J. Press. They only have a few locations, and it’s a bit more like what I always envisioned a Brooks Brothers to be: smaller, only great quality, and somewhere that looks interesting to peruse through gentlemen’s clothing.

    By peruse I mean learn to hate the staff unless you’re there to buy and nothing else.

    I always felt nothing but pressure from the salesmen, and not a pushy kind of pressure. It’s more like they exude this “are you going to BUY anything or are you just here to put your filthy beggar hands on our goods?” kind of pressure. Well one day I did buy something, a blazer which I should have never tried on, a bit too pricey for my wardrobe, yet elegant and handsome and something I still pine for. It was a bad impulse buy.

    When I went to return it the salesman informed me it did not have tags on it. He had taken them off – and he even remembered doing so! Why? “Because you said you wanted it, so I cut them off!” I did complete a successful return, but I will never ever set foot in the store again. I will look in from the outside, I will look at their catalogs and online store, but I don’t think I will ever be able to buy anything from them without feeling sick for the rest of my life.

  207. MrPogi says:

    Maybe I am lucky to have lived near a brand new suburban Aldi. Never had anything bad there, and I miss them because now I live in Utah, and there isn’t an Aldi. Where I live there’s 2 Smiths markets, and a 5 locally owned supermarkets… ALL of them Associated Foods stores (Western Family) They even have nearly identical ads. I sure do miss having choices.

    In Las Vegas, we had Food 4 Less, one of the Kroger brands. Not bad on price, but still no Aldi’s.

  208. Robert Wall says:

    Trent, I think that your fear of Aldi makes a lot of sense – our brains are wired to protect us from negative experiences and things that will bring us harm. A large colony of roaches certainly qualifies. :)

    As for food and bacteria, Americans in general are far, far more protected from bacteria and contaminants than we usually think. Of course there are insects in produce – it grows in the wild, and that’s where insects live! Ditto with bacteria in meat – it’s there naturally. The enzymes that cause veggies and such to rot are natural as well. Yes, grocery stores should pull the stuff they know to be bad – but the fact that a given store has some bad produce shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. If it’s bad all the time then that’s another story.

    It’s when you have the fruit that looks entirely too perfect that doesn’t seem to expire that you should really be starting to worry.

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