The YouTube Files – Supermarket Sweep USA.

Supermarket Sweep (1990-1995, 2000-2003)

Recently we had to say goodbye to Dale Winton. He will be much missed, so I thought that it would be a good idea to look back at the original American version of the game show that made his name, Supermarket Sweep. It is something of a surprise to discover that the history of this show goes as far back as 1965 when it was shown on ABC, but this piece will concentrate on the revival that began on Lifetime in 1990.

This version was hosted by David Ruprecht, and it didn’t really have too many differences to the UK version, with the basic idea of going wild in the aisles being the same. Three teams of two took part. They begin by being given 1:30 on their clock (in the UK it was 1:00) and then they have to answer various questions about things that are on offer in the supermarket, with ten seconds of time available for every correct answer (and the occasional bonus). vlcsnap-00745

There would be rounds where the teams played individually, and also by taking it in turns to play. Questions included such things as trying to guess the correct price of an item and solving those not-so difficult anagrams of vegetables and the like. By the end, the teams have hopefully amassed a lot of time because they will need it for the centrepiece of the show! vlcsnap-00743

This is of course the sweep. The teams have now put on their colour-coded sweaters and are ready to fill their trolley (or indeed their “cart”) as high as they can (although only one of the two team members does this), and shop till they drop (accompanied by some excitable commentary). They also have to look out for the bonuses on offer which could be worth up to $250. When time is up, the total of the items are added together, and the team that made the most money go into the final! vlcsnap-00754

Again, this is just about the same as the UK version, only there is a lot more money at stake. The finalists have 60 seconds to find three items hidden in the supermarket that are described with a cryptic clue. If they find the third item in time, they win the star prize of $5,000 (£2,000 in the UK version) on top of the money that they made in the sweep, meaning some teams could go away with about $6,000. vlcsnap-00707

And I was surprised to note that Ruprecht does end the show with the famous “next time you’re at the checkout and you hear the beep” catchphrase, I thought that was Dale’s own work. Supermarket Sweep was revived again in America in the early-2000s on PAX, and eventually over 1,000 editions were made, and the UK was one of several countries that produced their own version.

Game Show Memories – Supermarket Sweep.

Supermarket Sweep (ITV, 1993-2001, 2007)

Here’s another ITV 9:25am weekday show, and this was a good one. Supermarket Sweep was based on an American format where contestants were encouraged to go wild in the aisles and fill their trolleys as high as they could. Dale Winton was the host, he had been on TV and radio for years before but this was his breakthrough show and suddenly he was a familiar name to viewers with his enthusiastic presenting style. vlcsnap-01240

Every day three teams of two would take part and they would have to earn time by answering questions about various things that were in the supermarket. Every team would be given one minute to start off with and there would be ten seconds on offer for every correct answer. For some reason only one member of the team could play at a time and they would play various rounds, mostly consisting of them buzzing in to unscramble challenging anagrams of various foodstuffs such as “BRAED”. vlcsnap-01245

In part two, the time that was earned is how long they have to go round the supermarket. All the contestants would now wear lurid sweaters for this part of the game but again only one of them could play. When time started they would go off with their trolley and try to collect as many various items as they could, limited to three per item, with the frozen turkeys always being particularly popular. Also for this part there was a breathless “ha-ha-ha, he almost knocked all the cans over!!”-style commentary. vlcsnap-01242

As well as this there were also bonuses on offer, the most memorable ones being the inflatables scattered around, although as the series progressed there became so many of these that teams could almost win by just collecting the various bonuses and not even putting anything in their trolley which defeated the point of the game somewhat. However, when the bonuses were added to the value of the goods in the trolley which had all gone through the checkout, the highest-scoring team made the final, the excitement being that it wasn’t always necessarily the team with the most time. vlcsnap-01243

In the final the winning team would be given one minute on the clock and a clue to an item in the supermarket. They would then have to solve the clue and find where the item is, which would lead to another clue. If they solved the third clue in time they would win the star prize which was usually £2,000, and Dale would be so overcome by this that he would give everyone a hug. vlcsnap-01244

Supermarket Sweep became popular with viewers very quickly, Dale was suddenly a big name (indeed, for later episodes the show was renamed Dale’s Supermarket Sweep) and you would hear people saying the show’s catchphrases. And by 1994 after about a year on air a single related to the show featuring Dale was released which peaked at 72, how incredible. There was also a board game released. vlcsnap-01246

After the 9:25 game show slot ended on ITV Supermarket Sweep moved to afternoons where it continued in 2001 by which point over 500 shows had aired. But after a long absence the show was revived in 2007, but because of the way ITV was by then all the shows just seemed to be endless celebrity specials and most viewers didn’t find people off Emmerdale playing the game that interesting and the final editions weren’t even shown which meant that the show came to a disappointing end, but with its repeats of the earlier days on Challenge it still appears on the screens regularly over 20 years since it began which is great.