Generic, Plain Wrap, White Box Foods Of The 80's

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DawnT
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2011/09/08 12:07:19 (permalink)

Generic, Plain Wrap, White Box Foods Of The 80's

Last evening I encountered an Alzheimer's moment with two other couples visiting my Dad at the hospital. I had mentioned the "white box" generic packages that became popular during the early 80's and got total blanks. I wouldn't have expected my dad to remember, he never shopped or rarely set foot into a grocery store back then. Even my spouse barely recalls them as there was a short-lived no-frills chain in the central TN area that they went to a few times that carried the products. Here in Miami, we had the Basic's chain, Pantry Pride, and later the Xtra supermarkets that carried them among the national brands, but I don't recall any chain or store that only stocked the products.
 
As I remember with the few functioning brain cells that I have left of the time, they sort of became a cultural icon of the time. There were endless speculations that they were made by major companies (NOT!) that wanted to compete in a low end market, there were even those that thought that there was a communist plot to get us to acclimate to a single brand in a utilitarian packaging. Record covers,shirts,artwork, just about anything including stand up commedians took great advantage of the theme.  The movie Repo Man featured the products as central to the plot. IIRC, the Ralph's chain of CA was the first to introduce them in a slightly fancier package then what became the stark, white box with the contents listed in bold, black letters and an exaggeratingly large bar code which was just becoming visible on retail packaging as if they were a military or futuristic ration. Maybe these didn't see much distribution outside major market areas and perhaps many folks during the 80's may have never seen them. The two major market chains that dominate the local market as I recall never carried them to compete against their private labeled products, so it's very possible.
 
How many of you folks remember the plain wrap products? Most tasted vastly inferior to many of the store brands of the time when the store brands themselves often were an order of magnitude below the nationals. Even the prices as I remember didn't make much of a compelling reason to choose them over store brands.
 
#1

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    Glenn1234
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    Re:Generic, Plain Wrap, White Box Foods Of The 80's 2011/09/08 12:18:26 (permalink)
     
    Those products didn't last because they were mostly pretty bad.  Also,  I never understood the marketing strategy of the plain white boxes with black lettering.  Maybe they were saving a few cents per unit on packaging?  The strategy didn't work. 
     
     
    Glenn
     
     
     
     
     
    #2
    kland01s
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    Re:Generic, Plain Wrap, White Box Foods Of The 80's 2011/09/08 12:24:41 (permalink)
    Around the Chicago area Jewel carried the generic products in the early 1980's. In my garage right now is a white coffee can with the black word "Coffee" on it. It houses some spare parts now. I can't imagine we  were so desperate to try generic coffee back then but maybe we used it when we brewed our own version of kalua. I remember seeing "Beer" but not something I tried. I imagine we tried a few can goods like green beans back then but I don't remember!  
    #3
    felix4067
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    Re:Generic, Plain Wrap, White Box Foods Of The 80's 2011/09/08 13:40:57 (permalink)
    Ah yes...the "unbranded" brand. Their granola cereal used to be pretty good, and their brownie mix wasn't awful. Everything else, the store brand was usually better and cost within a nickel.
    #4
    mar52
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    Re:Generic, Plain Wrap, White Box Foods Of The 80's 2011/09/08 13:42:48 (permalink)
    I remember them well.  But why am I thinking about a blue stripe?
     
    They were very bad.
     
    Somehow the K-Car by Chrysler also comes to mind when I think of plain wrap.
    #5
    Foodbme
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    Re:Generic, Plain Wrap, White Box Foods Of The 80's 2011/09/08 14:40:59 (permalink)
    mar52
    I remember them well.  But why am I thinking about a blue stripe?
    They were very bad.
    Somehow the K-Car by Chrysler also comes to mind when I think of plain wrap.

    A memory jogger Mar!
    Hadn't thought about K Cars in years. There's a K Car Club in LA you can join!
    #6
    joerogo
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    Re:Generic, Plain Wrap, White Box Foods Of The 80's 2011/09/08 15:09:56 (permalink)
    When I worked for Acme Markets, we had "Econo Buy".  Came from the same source as our store brand, just a different label.  Never did catch on.
     
    But we did get good use out of the name.  We basically turned it into an insult.  The last name you would ever want to be called was "Econo Buy".  K-car....Econo Buy.... 
    post edited by joerogo - 2011/09/08 15:13:41
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    DawnT
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    Re:Generic, Plain Wrap, White Box Foods Of The 80's 2011/09/08 15:24:07 (permalink)
    It would have to have been a white car with the word "CAR" on both sides and a huge barcode on the trunk. Maybe a thin black accent line below the doors. Geesh, that would have been a great artistic statement back then. I remember all of the white t-shirts and caps that took off on that theme that either said "SHIRT", "HAT", "BOY", or "GIRL".  I attended a party back then that a lady was wearing a smock that said "COSTUME".
     
    Not all the stuff was bad, but the price difference between the store brands wasn't worth the gamble. They also came from different manufactuers. I bought a box of mac and cheese that had to be one of the most hideous tasting garbage. I also remember buying a spaghetti dinner box that tasted better then the Chef's. Also remember buying a six pack of "COLA" just because the price was cheaper then buying store brand. Turned out to be some of the best tasting coke that I've ever had. Next trip bought several that tasted like carbonated carmel water. The Ralph's brand as I understand was a blue label with some minimal graphics that spawned the generic black on white look. I never understood the marketing either. When stores set them next to their own store brand with literally cents difference, beyond the novelty, what was the point once you discovered it was usually inferior. It wouldn't have cost them any more to have monochromic graphics at the time either.
    #8
    mar52
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    Re:Generic, Plain Wrap, White Box Foods Of The 80's 2011/09/08 15:41:11 (permalink)
    I was and still am a Ralph's shopper.
     
    That must explain my blue band memory.
    #9
    joerogo
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    Re:Generic, Plain Wrap, White Box Foods Of The 80's 2011/09/08 16:39:35 (permalink)
    Amazing what you can find on the internets these days.
     

     
    Next time you run into something inferior, remember.......Econo Buy!
    #10
    jman
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    Re:Generic, Plain Wrap, White Box Foods Of The 80's 2011/09/08 16:50:18 (permalink)
    I'm not embarrassed to say that I bought a lot of that "white can" beer at Kroger for $1.00/six pack.  After the second can, it tasted pretty good.
    #11
    CajunKing
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    Re:Generic, Plain Wrap, White Box Foods Of The 80's 2011/09/08 17:01:10 (permalink)
    The white bagged "Cheese Puffs" were really good and cheesy for us kids.  I remember opening many a can of "corn" "green beans" and the like.
     
    My parents had just divorced and they were the only ones in her budget back then.
    #12
    totillie
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    Re:Generic, Plain Wrap, White Box Foods Of The 80's 2011/09/09 01:44:34 (permalink)
    Oh, Mar. It's you and me and Ralph's again. Ralph's 'plain wrap' stuff had a blue stripe. It was mostly awful. And, sadly, Kroger has badly cut down the Ralph's brand - other than 'plain wrap.'  there was some good stuff.
    #13
    mar52
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    Re:Generic, Plain Wrap, White Box Foods Of The 80's 2011/09/09 03:26:26 (permalink)
    Blue Stripe!  Thanks for validating my memory.
     
    I wanted to thank you, totillie... Ralph's does indeed now have B&M Baked Beans. Wish they were in the jars, but I can't have everything.
     
    Wish they also had the brown bread.
     
    #14
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