As a kid, I always loved getting to go to the grocery store because it usually meant I would get a free cookie by the baker or a slice of salami (my favorite type of meat) by the deli. When I found out I was pregnant, I honestly looked forward to the day I could take my kid to the grocery store and see her experience much of the same. We eventually did go, she eventually got that first sample, and I inevitably wondered what toddlers think while getting free samples at the grocery store. I mean, I can see why, to a toddler, this magical moment could seem a bit strange. You aren't home, there's no table or high chair and there's a stranger offering you delicious food. What's really going on, here?
When my daughter received her first free sample at the grocery store, her face lit up. She wasn't entirely sure what I was trying to give her, at first, but she quickly warmed up to it. That first sample was a win, mostly because her second favorite "treat," a cookie. Some samples she's had at the grocery store she has definitely enjoyed, while others have been a miss (which helps me figure out what to get her for snacks, and what I can take a pass on).
With so many new smells and different foods to look at, the grocery store can appear either scary or exciting to toddlers, I'm sure. However, when it comes to free samples, most children will probably be thinking the same thing, along the lines of, "More yummy food? Yes, please!" Of course, they probably have some additional thoughts, too, which I've took the liberty of assuming. Here's what I think a toddler is probably thinking when they get a free treat at the grocery store:
"This Is Not Where I'm Supposed To Eat Lunch Mom"
If you run your house like I do mine, there is a set routine and my daughter knows it. We eat lunch in one spot, we have one specific book to read before bed, we have a set breakfast, etc. The first time she had a sample of food from the grocery store, she looked at me like I was crazy for changing her routine up.
"Ewww! This Is Not My Normal Food And I Do Not Like It!"
When I think of samples at the grocery, I usually think of cookies or some other sweet treat. However, my grocery store also hands out samples of meat from the deli and from quick demo meals prepared by chefs in the store. Sometimes my daughter likes these savory samples, but other times, well, not so much.
"Did I Do Something Good? Is That What This Treat Means?"
My daughter almost always gets a cookie when she's done something good that I have asked her to do (part of our positive incentives that promote positive behavior). Having said that, sitting in the cart at the grocery store isn't necessarily doing much, so my daughter is slightly confused when she's rewarded for just sitting (although, as a toddler, that's clearly worth a treat or two).
"Whoa! I Get Dessert Before Dinner?"
I always preferred dessert before dinner, but I was never allowed to switch it up (unless it was a special occasion, of course). Now, I enforce the same rule with my daughter: no dessert before dinner. Unless, of course, it's a small cookie at the grocery store before dinner. I might make that exception, because YOLO, right?
"This Stranger Giving Me Food Is My New Favorite Person"
If your toddler is anything like mine, they love food. My daughter could eat and eat and eat all day without ever getting full. Sometimes I wonder if her stomach is a bottomless pit. Regardless, she loves almost anyone who gives her food (provided, of course, that she likes the food).
"This Place Is Like Grandma's House!"
As all children should, my daughter gets special treats at grandma's house. Cookies and ice cream, especially, which I may or may not always appreciate. I can see how the grocery store looks a lot like grandma's place, just with a slew of people and a little more food. Maybe.
"I'm Going To Need Some Milk To Go With This Cookie, You Know"
When a toddler wants a thing, they want it now, which can make the time spent in the checkout line somewhat (read: definitely) a struggle.
"This Place Must Be A Tummy's Heaven"
You hear about doggy heaven and kitty heaven, surely there are other heavens for special things like toddler stomachs too, right? I mean, my stomach is always happy after trying samples from the store. For my kid, this has to be a tummy's paradise! (Plus, when a toddler says "tummy" it's the most adorable thing ever, so I really hope she's thinking this frequently.)