Maybe it’s a super-hot day and you absolutely need to cool down with a cold drink as soon as you get to the grocery store. Or you have a kid who is going to have an apocalyptic meltdown if they don’t get some calories into their bodies. Or maybe you haven’t eaten all day because you haven’t had a moment to yourself until you do the shopping.
Do you suffer through, or do you open something at the grocery story early and then confess and pay for it at the register?
Or: have you ever been one of those people who eat a few grapes here and there while you shop?
Apparently, people have very strong opinions about opening and eating food at the grocery store, and that became clear when a TikTok mom posted a short video doing just that.
Cecily Bauchmann, a mom and pastor’s wife who also happens to be a TikTok influencer, stoked the grocery store-eating fire by posting a video in the act — placing an empty sushi container on the cashier’s conveyor belt and explaining that she ate it while shopping.
“I also opened this in store,” she says, smiling and laughing. “I’m sorry, I was so hungry!”
“Me every time at the grocery store,” she captioned the post, which has been viewed over 6 million times. “Opening food at the grocery store is a normal thing.”
The responses down in the comments were heated and mixed.
Some sided with the busy mom: “I do it with drinks at Target,” one person admitted. “These comments are acting like you’re stealing the food.”
“I do that too,” another said. “If you pay for it at the end then I see no problem.”
“Eating at the store is so much better,” another said.
“Opening items for my kids to be quite so I can shop,” another confessed.
Others disagreed, or were downright appalled.
“Idc how hungry I am, I’d never do this,” one person wrote.
“My aunt used to do this… it was embarrassing,” another said.
“I feel like you’re probably not supposed to do that,’ another added.
But most importantly, a few cashiers weighed in. And they had some varied opinions, too.
“I worked at a grocery store for 5 years,” one said. “As long as you don’t eat food that’s cost is by weight and you don’t make a mess it’s fine.”
“I’m a cashier it’s pretty common lol I just offer to throw it away for them if it’s empty,” another agreed.
“When I’m a cashier I get annoyed sometimes when people hand me their trash to scan,” another shared.
So, is it legal to eat food in the grocery store?
According to attorney Betty Wang of Find Law, it’s technically illegal to snack on anything in a grocery store without purchasing it. But pressing charges is left up to the grocery stores and many of them don’t really care about a grape here and there or a snacked-on bag of chips that is paid for at the end of the shopping trip.
Wang emphasizes, though, that if you eat a food that you pay for by weight, or if you don’t bring the packaging to the cashier, you are technically shoplifting and you could get in trouble for it, for sure. While some think it’s okay to “sample” grapes or items from bulk containers, it’s actually not, even if no one says anything to you about it.
The final verdict? It seems okay in most places to eat food in the grocery store as long as you pay for it up front before you leave, despite the fact that it’s technically illegal. But you risk annoying your cashier or having an awkward moment.