Supermarket Sweep (partially found ABC game show; 1965-1967)
The original Supermarket Sweep was an ABC game show that was broadcast between 20th December 1965 to 14th July 1967. Like the later shows and international spin-offs it would inspire, it involved teams of contestants building up time by answering supermarket-related questions, before going on a shopping spree to earn the highest accumulated score based on the value of the goods in their trolleys.
Supermarket Sweep was conceptualised when Talent Associates higher-ups David Susskind and Daniel Melnick sought a new program following the cancellation of its previous network television shows. After becoming intrigued with a promotion a soft drinks company made involving racing through a supermarket and adding items into trolleys, they hired game show producer Jerome Schnur to convert this concept into a viable television program, which ultimately became Supermarket Sweep. The program would air on ABC from December 1965; unlike with other game shows, Supermarket Sweep would not be filmed in a studio, but instead in an actual supermarket. After difficulties in signing agreements with supermarket chains to film the show in its stores, Talent Associates made a deal with Food Fair to film episodes across the latter's various chains within New York City.
The show proved a ratings success for ABC, tripling its audience base in the process. It was the inspiration for several US revivals, including a Lifetime/PAX version that aired between 1990-2003, and an ABC revival that started airing in 2020. Additionally, several international spin-offs would be established, including the United Kingdom's Dale's Supermarket Sweep, hosted by Dale Winton between 1993 to 2001 with a revival in 2007, and a reboot simply titled Supermarket Sweep in 2019. Even before Dale's Supermarket Sweep, the UK was intrigued by the concept of Supermarket Sweep. On 10th August 1966, the Buzidragis couple, who were victorious in an episode of the show, travelled with their son Joe to a Tesco in Brixton, London, where they were challenged to do a shopping spree in 30 minutes. In that time, they accumulated a total of $4,500, which would later by donated to the Variety Club of Grant Britain.
Hosted by Bill Malone, with Wally King and later Richard Hayes performing the role of commentator, the show's format consisted of three couples for each episode, with all teams having a man and woman present. The women were tasked to identify the retail price of grocery items. For each correct answer, the woman would earn an additional 15 seconds to the default 90 seconds given for a shopping spree, as well as being allowed to keep the item in question. Time built up would then be utilised by the men, who were challenged to pick up as many items within the supermarket as possible, including bonus items that varied from $10-$100 in value.
At the end of the spree, the grocery bills would be totalled up. The quiz and shopping sprees would be repeated in the second half, where the team with the highest value in the goods of their trolley would return for the following episode, and keep the items they accumulated. The reason for the gendered roles in the show was that during the evaluation of the pilots, the producers were concerned the average woman would be upset should women be portrayed as "a crazed harridan scrambling through supermarket aisles." Thus, they were not allowed to compete in the sprees, whereas men likewise were ineligible to participate in the pricing game.
Ultimately, the majority of ABC's television archives prior to 1978 are believed to have been wiped, with its wiping policy continuing until then-President of Entertainment Fred Silverman ended this process. Game shows were especially subject to wiping, with the majority of Supermarket Sweep episodes ultimately becoming lost. Of the episodes that aired, only one from 1967 is known to have survived, being uploaded to YouTube by Hondo20132 on 5th September 2011. Another episode from 1967 was uploaded to YouTube by Jared Rainer on 6th August 2023.
- David Susskind: A Televised Life detailing how Supermarket Sweep was conceptualised. Retrieved 2nd May '22
- MeTV detailing the format of the show, and noting the extent of lost episodes. 2nd May '22
- Medium Rare The Evolution, Workings, and Impact of Commercial Television detailing Supermarket Sweep's success on ABC. Retrieved 2nd May '22
- Cheat Sheet detailing the revivials of the show. Retrieved 2nd May '22
- UK Game Shows detailing Dale's Supermarket Sweep and the 2019 UK reboot. Retrieved 2nd May '22
- Flashbak detailing the Buizdragis' family's "Supermarket Sweep" in the UK on 10th August 1966. Retrieved 2nd May '22
- TV in the USA: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas noting Silverman ended ABC's wiping policy in 1978. Retrieved 2nd May '22
- Old Time Review detailing the extent of wiping of game shows. Retrieved 2nd May '22