Supermarket Sweep Losers

Supermarket Sweep Losers

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Yep, that’s me and Tyna on our TV debut in 1994 when we were on the cable game show Supermarket Sweep. Just arriving in Los Angeles after our 2 week cross country move and yet to find a job (our first day in the city was the 6.7 Northridge earthquake, talk about a welcome), we did what the unemployed do in LA; tried our luck on a game show!

We made a call and were invited down for an audition, which itself, was pretty uneventful. A few questions in front of a panel of producers and we were sent on our way. We got the call a couple of weeks later that we were chosen. I’m not sure why we were picked. My guess is that they didn’t have a whole lot of 23 year old girls auditioning and they wanted to keep their paid extras happy, as they filled the audience with them for the question portion of the game. It was an unusually large amount of men for a cable game show about supermarket shopping. And I guess we did make them happy, as you can hear from the hooting and the “right on!” yelled when we go up for our nearly disastrous Dannon segment.

While we were waiting for that glorious call from the producers, we both filled out job applications and had interviews at separate places. We then got the call that we were chosen to be on Sweep, which was set to tape in 2 weeks. And of course, within those 2 weeks we both got the jobs we applied for! We each had to have a very uncomfortable conversation with our soon-to be-bosses that yes, we accepted the position…but here’s the thing, we needed a day off to tape a game show…during our first week of work. Amazingly, they both said yes (it was Hollywood after all). The jobs that we say we do on the show are the jobs that we both just got!

So there we are, at the Hollywood Center Studios, bright and early for our taping with at least 75 other people. They taped the beginning of the show first, where they call out “Whose got the Puffs tissues? Ok, you’re on!” All the people you see in the audience for that segment are actually contestants in other episodes. Once those are all taped, they clear us out and fill the audience with the paid extras (the above said men) who get to watch who knows how many episodes tape and have to clap all day long. I think they got paid 20 bucks each. Hell of a way to pay the rent.

The contestants then wait for their episode to film. We knew who we were going to be on with and spent some time talking with them (both teams very nice) but didn’t want to get too chummy because we planned on kicking their asses later! So we just sat, got nervous, and pouted about our outfits. We couldn’t wear black and we had to wear sneakers, neither point made us very happy. Little did we know we would end up getting the YELLOW sweatshirts for the big sweep. Who looks good in yellow? Then we really had something to pout about!

Oh, and we also find out that we are going to be on a very special Supermarket Sweep. A tournament that was a “once in a lifetime” (thank god) chance to win 2 Geo Trackers, the 90’s version of the Gremlin. Winner of each show was to move on to the next round. We wondered what we were going to tell our bosses if we actually do win and have to take more time off. We also wondered what the hell we were going to do with 2 Geo Trackers…

When it was finally time for us to tape, we were given a 10 minute walk through of the market to plan our strategy for the big sweep, the end when one contestant from each team gets to run through the isles and shop. The set was really amazing, an actual supermarket with real products. The only thing that was fake was the produce. We carefully planned the course for our sure to be victory. We decided the housewares and spice isle was a good place to start. Batteries, film, spices, colanders-these were all high-priced items that were small and lightweight. We had seen way too many people over the years trying to wrangle turkeys in their baskets. One bottle of saffron costs about the same as a turkey, it was a no brainer (of course, this doesn’t explain why I choose those enormous hunks of cheese.) You’re allowed to get 5 of any one item and there are several things you can do to add to your total. Big blow up items, 1 lb of candy, and a bag of rolls from the bakery with very specific instructions (for example, 1 bagel, 2 kaisers, 3 wheat buns). You’re also allowed to run back and exchange carts for an empty one at anytime throughout your sweep.

And a little inside scoop on the store, the floors were waxed to the consistency of an ice skating rink. And if you dropped anything and didn’t either put it in your cart or back on the shelf, it was deducted from your total. And the carts were not the clunkers you find at your local market. They were sleek and fast! The combo was very challenging.

Strategy set, we are all automatically given 1:30 minutes for our sweep, and we were ready to play the game. And that’s where everything went a little wrong. We bombed, big time. Tyna gets total Cindy Brady red light syndrome. We edited the episode to show only the answers we get right. This is why it’s only 4 minutes. I get one answer, which adds 10 seconds to our sweep time. Tyna smiles blankly into the camera for the entire question segment and somehow forgets all words that start with the letter N. Thank god we pulled that one off, because it gave us another 30 seconds to our time. If we would have lost it, I don’t know if you’d be reading this right now. I may have killed Tyna.

We manage to eek out an abysmal 2:10, with the other 2 teams having 2:50 and 3:00 from all their correct answers. We’re very embarrassed at this point. The sweep starts and you wouldn’t believe how quickly 2:10 minutes flies by, very stressfully so. You’ve got a camera man following your every move. You’re trying desperately to not fall down or plow into a display. And I was racking my brain to remember what baked goods I needed. No time for candy, and I didn’t run into any blow up items on the way.

We didn’t just lose, we came in 3rd. We were given a catalog of consolation prizes that we could each pick something from. We chose a scale and a cassette radio, I still have both! Sorry Tyna, I stole your scale when I moved. Moral of the story? Game shows are A LOT harder than they look!Supermarket Sweep

18 thoughts on “Supermarket Sweep Losers”

  1. OMG! I remember this like it was yesterday. You forgot to say it was also the same day your apartment was robbed. Thanks, I enjoyed the recap. And you both have aged very well.

  2. Really what would you have done with a Geo Tracker girls? Think of it as a blessing in disguise that you didn’t win. Love that Tyna drew a blank…that is so something I would do. What a great memory you girls have. I’m so jealous…I always wanted to go on a game show growing up!

  3. Oh, gosh. This might be my new go-to video to make me laugh when I’m having a bad day. Not at you, of course, but with you S & T. My brother and I used to watch that silly show every day and I probably have seen your episode like three times…if I remembered. But I know I always rooted for the girl teams!!!!!

  4. I effing loved Supermarket Sweep! Don’t feel bad about not winning the Trackers. Apparently the balance on them is off and they are prone to tipping over. I saw a kid in high school do it with his. Twice. Not winning could have saved your lives! (I love melodrama!). Seriously, though, I sooo wanted the random inflatable items from that show. I imagine there is a catalog where one would order JUST randomly huge, inflatable food items. That would be the coolest catalog ever…
    Btw, y’all looked great in yellow :)

  5. If anyone would like to view the entire excruciating but hilarious 30 minutes of this show, I have it on video! Now if I can just figure out how to get it from VHS to youtube. Gosh, you guys look like 12 year olds on here. Too cute.

  6. I’ve had the pleasure of watching the entire show on VHS! I LOVE it! i love Tyna with the giant salami’s at the end. Stef’s face is priceless when Tyna is struggling with the clues. DANNON!

  7. OMG you guys, you have no idea how much I was obsessed with this show! I’m positive that I must have seen your episode when it originally aired! This is amazing and it makes you two my new heroes :) And thank you for all the S.S. inside scoop! I always wondered if all the products were real, and I love hearing that you actually had time to study the layout of the store beforehand(again, something I always wondered!).

  8. OK My sides hurt from laughing.. that was awesome!
    HILARIOUS!!! You two look adorable.. Stef I’ve heard you refer to your supermarket sweep radio, now I know it’s roots =)

    Girl you rocked some cheese and “Salami anyone?”
    That has to be one of my favorite lines, besides Duran Duran!

    This is my new go to to cheer me up video too Katie!

    Stef your face during the Dannon segment is priceless!
    Tyna your smile when Stef gets Duran Duran is equally priceless!

    You girls rocked it!

    I love hearing the announcer going over Stef’s every move! I’m so glad you posted this! It made my day :)

  9. This is the most awesome thing I have EVER seen! Being on Supermarket Sweet would have been the pinnacle of my life, sad I know. Do you go around introducing yourselves as former contestants of the show, cause I totally would.
    Growing up, they used to have all those contests where you could have a shopping spree at your favorite show. I still to this day think of what I would get if my favorite bookstore, Target, etc. if I won.

  10. I happen to know that the trackers they gave away were green and blue. But one of my sorority sisters had this lilac purple version and we all called it the barbie jeep. Don’t worry … I still think you rocked the supermarket!

  11. And that brings me to my question…how do you know how much everything costs? I’m assuming there’s price labels under everything on the shelves like in a regular grocery store? If there are, you can never make them out on the screen…

  12. Stef and Tyna,
    I cannot get enough of this bit! HILAROUS! David and I just howl watching you two youngsters! You look like two middle school teens! I’ll never look at a shopping cart the same. No wonder your best friends.. Look at what you do together! I love it! I still crack up watching you grab all that Italian cheese and salami! More power to you! I think you should something like this again sometime.. Would you? Of course you would.. Not that long ago, Stef and her hubby drove into LA to get on “The Price is Right” How funny, they are so hooked!
    What I think you should do is a candid camera bit.. I love that sort of humor!
    Btw. This is important!
    Duran Duran is coming to the OC Fair this summer! Want to go?

  13. Hi All! Thanks for all the Sweep love. I love that we did this, no matter how miserably we failed. It’s one of those things I will always remember.

    Check out 3:52 on the video, you can see how the carts slid around like they were on ice!

    And my god, my eyebrows during Dannon look like they’re going to pop off my forehead.

    Katie-prices are on the fronts of the shelves. And they are more expensive than a regular supermarket.

    Mom/Joan-I’m waiting for Tyna to confirm that we did NOT get robbed while we taped this. My memory escapes me on this one. But yeah, during my first 3 months in LA, there was an earthquake, we were robbed and I was mugged at gunpoint. See why Sweep was such a high point?

    Nicole-I STILL walk though stores and imagine what I’d grab in a free for all. I always thought that would be the best contest ever!

    Pam-Sadly, I think my game show days are over…

  14. so i found your blog googling the name of the show b/c it’s always been my DREAM to go on (not kidding) and I think you’re my HERO. this is a great story no matter what. I think I’d blank too when they started taping.

    what a great show.

  15. K-
    Thanks so much for popping in and declaring your love for The Sweep!

    And it’s especially nice to see you here as I’ve actually been to your blog before! Great idea. (Ladies, go check out her blog by clicking on her “K”.

    Thanks for the comment!

  16. k – that’s awesome! Maybe someday they will re-do the show and your dream can come true! As the one that had the total brain freeze, it’s funny now – but i was mortified at the time! Seriously, my mind just turned to white noise and i couldn’t speak – ha!

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