My Obsession With Free Samples From Whole Foods


I’d go out on a limb and say that the vast majority of my days are spent counting down the hours (minutes) until I can chemically separate my ass from the seat of my ultra-ergonomic chair. While I’m one of the lucky few that sincerely enjoys the vast majority of the people I work with and my general working environment, there’s something indescribably beautiful about the brief moments of my workday spent outside of office walls.

Occasionally during the aforementioned brief moments, I walk to Whole Foods.

When you stroll into a grocery store on a weekday during work hours, it’s like getting a glimpse into an alternate universe. If you’re wandering down aisle 4 on any given Wednesday at 2:45pm, you’ll feel like you’re getting the VIP tour of what life is like without a corporate job, like you’ve successfully snuck into the locker room of non-traditional working lifestyles, where everyone’s at least moderately happy with what they had for lunch and almost no one has sat through a status call at any point that day. It’s an experience that I find to be both awe-inspiring and mildly upsetting.

Any negativity you might experience is shattered, however, as soon as you find yourself in the dairy department – and if you’ve ever been inside of a Whole Foods, you already know why:

Samples, y’all. Samples on motherfucking samples.

As someone who “enjoys” a protein bar, a yogurt, and an apple every day for lunch (literally, in the literal sense of the word, every day), there’s nothing more exciting to my underwhelmed palate than the opportunity to nosh on some exciting dairy products – and my oh my does Whole Foods deliver. Buckle up, because I’m about to drop a bomb on you, and it’s chock full of cranberry cheese. That’s right. That’s what I said. Cranberry cheese. Have you ever tasted cheese with cranberries inside of it? Of course you haven’t. It’s the cutting edge of culinary majesty, I am absolutely certain.

While these bits of berry-plus-dairy delight are technically “for the taking,” there’s a lot more to the acquisition process if you’re interested in snagging up more than just one delicious round. Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of benefitting from the sample tray is the level of strategy involved in creeping back towards the same tray that you’ve already visited in the recent past. While I have no solid explanation as to why anyone should feel any tangible feeling of shame or guilt as they re-approach the gleaming silver bowl or alternate serving apparatus, the average person may find themselves in such a predicament. Without expecting it, you’re probably going to assume for at least 15 whole seconds that everyone ever employed by that particular Whole Foods location is currently staring at you as you take an additional cube of cheese into your greedy little hands. Even the produce guy out front who has spent the past 20 minutes arranging oranges into the world’s most excellent fruity tower. Even THAT guy is taking a moment away from spitting Montezuma-of-citrus-fruits-level tower game to make sure that you feel like a freeloading, cheese whispering lard bucket. If you want to get in and get out with your fresh samples without drawing too much attention, you’re going to have to devise a plan, and by “plan” I mean figure out which nearby display table you’re going to linger around/stare at quizzically until the coast is clear. You rascal, you.

While Whole Foods has the tendency to put me in a rather grouchy mood with its excessive touting of “locally-grown, hormone-free, free range” and less widely advertised, “wildly overpriced” goods, there is something about the sample tray that has the power to change the course of an entire day.

Does it concern me that I consider the availability of cheese samples as a highlight of a workday? Sure. I suppose you could make the argument that it’s not exactly a normal thing to be particularly jazzed about. But then again, when the majority of your day occurs within three carpeted cubicle walls, you’ve got to take what you’ve been given with immeasurable gratitude, and as little shame as you can muster. Sample on, office-dwelling friends. With clear eyes and full hearts, sample on.

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Kylie is a graduate of the University of Michigan living in Dallas, TX, where there are far fewer pigeons than there are in NYC. for more

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