Grocery Stores Need Emoticons, Too

by Emily Kemme

Facebook finally stepped up to the plate a few months ago, allowing users to do more than “Like” a friend’s post. The social media life controller even labeled what clicking on a “Sad” emoticon is called in Facebookland. Now when your friend’s dog goes to the big squirrel chasing meadow in the sky, you don’t have to click “Like” to show support, because who in their right mind likes that? Instead, you can go with your gut feeling, slide your mouse over the options, and “React” to the loss of your friend’s pet with a sad face. That’s right. Emotions are now Reactions. I’m relieved, knowing I have other options through which I may express myself.

I suppose the Facebook Reaction option hopes to teach us how to get back in touch with our emotions.

The reality of life is we aren’t always happy, and it’s great Facebook understands that. But with social media outlets available to control our every minute, there’s little worry that a friend will catch a glimpse of you becoming teary-eyed at the thought of life’s troubles — or even worse — the possibility of collapsing on someone’s shoulder to help bear the brunt of it. Wherever we go, we may conveniently hide behind the mask of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the rest. Do not allow skin to touch skin! Stay inside your house! Talk to the screen!

One little hiccup with the hermetically sealed approach to life in the Twenty-first century is that, much as we might not like to admit it, we have to eat. Since we are no longer a hunter-gatherer society, the next step is acknowledging that while we claim affection for the land and the mysterious processes that produce a carrot, most of us do not know how to milk a cow or grow baby carrots. And don’t even get me started on where pork ribs come from.

This means we have to go to a store to stock up on provisions — carrots, milk, bread, and such — and until we give up and order our meals 24/7 from Blue Apron or other organizations who micromanage how we eat, parceling out spices, chicken and even kale in sealed plastic shipped from a gigantic food warehouse probably owned by Facebook, we must go shopping. With carts. With grocery bags. We have to make selections of food stuffs. And we have to talk to other people while we do that.

If Facebook allows us Reactions, I think grocery stores should, too.

Food producers are all about winning over customers, enticing potential buyers with cute bunny rabbits on cereal boxes and designing beer logos with letters that appear to be smiling, because who wants to buy unfriendly beer?

But there are a lot of foodstuffs you can buy at the store that don’t give you any warning of whether or not they’ll make you happy. There is so much information out there about what we should eat. Consumers need guidance. That’s why we should have grocery store emoticons on food labels to help us make the correct choices.

Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with:

Leafy greens: I’m talking about turnip leaves, collard greens, that fancy Swiss chard, and worst of all, kale, who makes money on the side as a standup comic on the vegetable’s Twitter account. Sure, you can stuff all those bulky leaves into your juicer in the quest for a healthy lifestyle. But the biggest problem with all those green leaves is where are you going to put them? They not only bulk up your colon, they command all the space in the fridge.

The green tuft dude emoticon says it's all about how cool you are to buy leafy greens. The safety pin under his nose reminds you that there are some hazards associated with all that bulk.

The green tuft dude emoticon says it’s cool you buy leafy greens. The safety pin under his nose reminds you there are some hazards associated with all that bulk.

Bananas: You didn’t know bananas are bad for you? You might think they are the quintessential ingredient for the creamiest smoothies ever, they’re easy to eat on the run and their cheery, bright yellow makes people happy. Some secret organization that runs all the pop-ups on the Internet has decided bananas are the worst food — ever. Bananas need the OMG emoji, as in, “Like, dude, haven’t you seen the pop-ups about the five foods that create belly fat? OMG! Just say, ‘no’ to bananas.”

Grocery Stores Need Emoticons Too

The OMG emoticon lets you know you’re an idiot. You obviously weren’t paying attention to all those pop-up ads about bad banana karma.

Onions: I debated about this one, since everybody knows cutting onions makes you cry. A crying emoticon would make sense, except that onions are an essential part of … everything! Sauces, a mirepoix — the combination of carrots, celery and onion that gives a dish its underlying character — and on a hamburger. How can you not place a thick slab of onion on your juicy burger? That’s why onions need a confused emoticon.

Grocery Stores Need Emoticons Too

To onion, or not to onion. That is the question.

Sustainable Seafood: It’s all the rage to jump on the Save the Oceans boat. In recognition of safe fishing practices, keep Flipper the dolphin out of fish nets, and don’t eat any fish that begins with the letter ‘S’. I don’t know why. I just read about it on the ‘net. But buying the right fish gets the cool sunglasses emoticon.

Grocery Stores Need Emoticons Too

I’m cool, you’re cool, we’re all cool. Save the fish!

Oysters: Raw oysters on the half shell are one of my favorite foods. Did you know they also are like self-cleaning ovens? Oysters help take care of the environment. I dream about them, order them at restaurants far and near, and love taking pictures of their plump, slimy bodies. Don’t follow me on Instagram if that grosses you out. However, for those of you who, like me, live in the middle part of the United States with no ocean in sight, this one applies particularly to you. If you, the landlocked, are considering buying grocery store oysters, this emoticon should be plastered over the seafood window.

Grocery Stores Need Emoticons Too

This is the “please don’t tell me you’re going to buy that, I don’t want to see what might happen if you eat those raw” emoticon.

Barbecue Sauce: I never realized this, but barbecue sauce has ownership, and could almost be the topic of a political manifesto. Evidently, barbecue sauce defines a state’s personality. Your sauce selection can get you into hot water, should you choose unwisely. Friendships have been lost over barbecue sauce preference. That’s why it should have the crazy emoticon. It’s not only the grill; the entire subject is just too hot to handle.

Grocery Stores Need Emoticons Too

The “Let’s not go there” emoticon. You’d be crazy if you did.

Tortilla Chips: I was a nice wife and bought supplies for Dr. K’s recent poker party. It’s not a tough task. All he wanted was a bag of M&M peanut candies, salsa and tortilla chips. I thought I did a really good job — I’d found a brand of chips that are made fresh, daily — until he asked me how long I thought that bag of chips sat in the warehouse. Okay. I’m gullible. Chips and any other product that makes a claim that can’t be supported by common sense should have the “whistling to show how gullible you are,” emoticon. As in, “Like, yeah, stupid. We can get you to believe just about anything.”

Grocery Stores Need Emoticons Too

The “I can’t believe you fell for that one” emoticon.

Milk, Cheese, and Anything Dairy: I discovered several months ago I’m allergic to dairy. That means bye-bye pizza, Caprese salads, blue cheese, and camembert. Don’t even get me started on what happened to my daily latte. I’ll burst into tears.

Grocery Stores Need Emoticons Too

The, “I’m mad as hell, but if you ask me about it, I’ll start crying,” emoticon.

Chocolate: With all the things in the world you can eat that are potentially bad for you, we still have chocolate. Sure, it’s not the best dietary choice, although supposedly the higher cacao content makes it a superfood. That’s why chocolate has earned the “See — I’m not telling you what to do,” emoticon. Besides, after running the grocery store gauntlet, you deserve chocolate.

Grocery Stores Need Emoticons Too

The “Go ahead and buy it” emoticon. You know you shouldn’t, but . . . whatever.

Like this blog post? Subscribe to my newsletter so you won’t miss out on future blog posts!

Award-winning author Emily Kemme writes about human nature, illuminating the everyday in a way that highlights its brilliance. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished,, or on Twitter @EmFeedsYou . Life inspired. Vodka tempered.

Related Articles


Judy April 4, 2016 - 8:49 pm

A fun read!

D. April 2, 2016 - 10:57 am

Emily, your writing just keeps getting better and better and thoroughly enjoyable!

Emily Kemme April 2, 2016 - 10:58 am


Bob April 2, 2016 - 9:31 am

Right on, thought provoking, imaginative. Loved the emotions evoked by the different foods.

Emily Kemme April 2, 2016 - 10:59 am


Lynne April 2, 2016 - 8:24 am

I would love to know how you created those astonishing emoticons…they are hilarious! A whole new career for you.

Emily Kemme April 2, 2016 - 9:49 am

Ha! No, I wish I knew how. I bought them off the internet for $7. But learning how to create them is on my list of things-to-do!


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.