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A Look at A la Cart: The Secret Lives of Grocery Shoppers by Hillary Carlip

Do Our Shopping Lists Say Something About Us?

Los Angeles-based performance artist Hillary Carlip believes our shopping lists are like mirrors to our personalities and style.

NPR featured an entertaining profile of Hillary, who has dedicated her life to searching for and decoding shopping lists she finds around town, and then turning them into characters.

Hillary began collecting lists when she was 15 and found a list for Twizzlers, peanut brittle, and gum on the back of a dental appointment reminder card in NYC. She started off her interpretations as an on-stage act (she would dress as the different characters and recite what was on the list), but recently decided to turn them into a book — A la Cart: The Secret Lives of Grocery Shoppers.

The book features Hillary's 26 favorite shopping lists and the characters she's created to go along with them (the book cover is a collection of photos of Hillary in costume and makeup). Do you think a stranger could accurately depict you based on your grocery list?

Join The Conversation
bluebird bluebird 9 years
My lists are organized according to my local Wal-Mart or Kroger, depending on where I'm going for my stuff. Otherwise I end up running in circles around the store and inevitably forgetting something!
looseseal looseseal 9 years
Before I go to the supermarket, I scribble a list on the receipt that I got from the last time I went to the supermarket.
tee0206 tee0206 9 years
I don't think mine are all that exciting, and most of the time, my lists are scribbled on Post-Its from work with the sticky part folded down.
jennjennnbubba jennjennnbubba 9 years
you can always find Clorox Wipes, Ice Cream, Bananas, and Milk on my list, I wonder what that says about me? I think I check out this book! I have been wanted to read lately anyhow so this seems perfect!!
camperbarbie camperbarbie 9 years
I will probably go buy this book, I work in a grocery store and often find peoples lost lists, it is interesting, one time I found a Christmas list for a little girl I know, and when I saw her grandma (who I don't know) I asked if it was hers and it kinda freaked her out for a minute, but it was hers, and she had been looking for it. I also love shopping and showing up at the register with an odd mix of items, it kinda messes with the cashier.
bluebellknoll bluebellknoll 9 years
I think it would be an entertaining read. I don't think that a stranger would be able to depict me from a shopping list. My shopping lists are usually mainly fruits and veggies, hummus, and bread. You'd think I was a vegetarian but I'm not. I get meats and fish from my dad...who is an avid fisherman and works for a sausage kitchen and smokehouse. I have the inside line for fresh fish and high-quality meat. Yee-ha!
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
I think that's kind of a funny concept. My mom made me these little shopping lists when I was on my own for the first time. They say "Popgoestheworld's Shopping List" (okay, it says my REAL name but anyway) and they have little categories for different parts of the grocery store (e.g. dairy, frozen, product). I thought they were cute so I kept using them. I'm sure that my made up character would be super organized if she found one of those lists!
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
There is a website called Where you can display found and than scanned grocery lists, its fascinating. My list for tonight? Cat Food tortillas avacado eggs candle
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
new=knew! *sheese*
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
What a great idea! If I new this woman, I would be tempted to plant lists where I knew she would find them! Something like: nipple piercings-3:30, at Rat-a-Tattoo-lle pick up: dry cleaning milk eggs bacon grapefruit juice veggie cheese Red Bull condoms family-sized tube of lube re-heeled stilettos from the cobbler Get waxed-eyebrows, upper lip, chin, and brazillian Dinner with step-brother-6 PM, at Harley Bob's Bar and Grille O.K. I'm done.
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
How weird would it be to recognize one of these as you own?? haha i'm a crazy list maker and i'm sure my lists wouldn't make sense to anyone else!
jasmint jasmint 9 years
I love the idea of this, and have often thought about it myself. Once in college I found someone's to-do list where, along with the usual chores and studying, was listed "eat blood orange." I thought that was strange, and have held on to the list ever since.
colleenb colleenb 9 years
This is great! I never make grocery lists and when I do I lose them. I think that says plenty!
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