The List: Ranking grocery store aisles

Jim Fischer
Columbus Alive

I'll admit to having gotten lost in a supermarket. I have yet to avail myself of the updated technology that will allow me to sort my grocery list by aisle. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've made it through to the far end of the store and had everything crossed off my list.

But it's that second search, the one for the items you missed – and probably didn't even see – the first time through that provides the kind of keen insight needed to produce a definitive ranking of grocery store aisles. When an item isn't where you expected to find it, or even if you had no idea – these are the times that next-level assessment takes place.

In light of Lilianna Kane's “Grocery Dance” in this issue, the correct ranking would have “whichever aisle features original choreography performed by a trained dancer” at the top of the list. But in an attempt to provide a more generic perspective on this important issue, we'll stick to more traditional grocery aisles.

8. Snacks

No one's proud of it, but there aren't many folks who don't need to add a bag of potato chips, pretzels, cheese puffs or the like to their cart.

7. Paper and wraps

This is where the toilet paper is. That's enough to get ranked.

6. Beer and wine

The variety and quality of selection, even at a supermarket, means you're covered if you don't have the time to get to the growler fill shop.

5. Dairy case

Different stores arrange these items differently, but (with apologies to those with lactose issues) yogurt, chocolate milk and cheese make this aisle pretty important.

4. Wherever the coffee is

No, not where you can get fresh-brewed coffee to make your shopping more bearable, but where you find containers of ground or (preferably) bean coffee to make at home in your drip coffee maker or (preferably) French press.

3. Bakery

Even the biggest, coldest chain grocer makes its own bread, and often to fine effect and varied selection. Plus, doughnuts.

2. Produce

Here's where you get the really good stuff. Sure, there's kale and kiwi, which nobody really likes, but a place where you can find cantaloupe, red skin potatoes, acorn squash, asparagus and Anjou pears just a few steps apart has to rank near the top of any reputable grocery aisle ranking.

1. Breakfast

Since I was a kid, I've had a love affair with boxed cereal. There's an entire shelf in our pantry devoted to this treat, good for any meal of the day. So the cereal aisle is probably where you'll find me if I get lost again.