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Supermarket Sweep is an American television game show. The format combined an ordinary team-based quiz show with the novel concept of a live, timed race through a supermarket. In the timed race, cameras followed the teams with shopping carts through a large vacated supermarket with several aisles; the value of items thrown into the cart determined the winning team. The original show was broadcast on ABC from December 20, 1965 to July 14, 1967. Revivals aired on Lifetime from February 5, 1990, to June 16, 1995 (with reruns until August 14, 1998, and on PAX from April 5, 1999, to March 31, 2000), and later from April 3, 2000, to May 23, 2003, with reruns airing until March 26, 2004.
|Created by||Al Howard|
|Directed by||Lloyd Gross (1965–67)|
Peter Molnár (1965–67)
Chris Darley (1990–95, 2000–03)
|Presented by||Bill Malone (1965–67)|
David Ruprecht (1990–95, 2000–03)
|Narrated by||Wally King (1965–66)|
Richard Hayes (1966–67)
Johnny Gilbert (1990–95, 2000)
Randy West (2000–03)
|Theme music composer||Christopher Rhyne|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2 (ABC original run)|
|No. of episodes||1,111|
|Executive producer(s)||Leonard Stern (1965–67)|
Al Howard (1990–95; 2000–03)
|Producer(s)||Jerome Schnur (1965–67)|
Joel Stein (1990–95)
Mark Maxwell-Smith (2000)
Jim Rossi (2001–03)
|Production location(s)||Food Fair (1965–67)|
Hollywood Center Studios
Hollywood, California (1990–95)
Santa Clarita Studios
Santa Clarita, California (2000)
Burbank, California (2000–03)
|Running time||22–26 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Talent Associates (1965–67)|
Al Howard Productions (1990–95, 2000–03)
|Original network||ABC (1965–67)|
December 20, 1965 –July 14, 1967
February 5, 1990 –June 16, 1995
April 3, 2000 –May 23, 2003
ABC's Supermarket Sweep was broadcast from Food Fair supermarkets, mostly around New York City. For the Lifetime version, a mock supermarket was created at Hollywood Center Studios. It was modeled after a Hughes Family Market (which was later merged into the Ralphs chain in 1998). The first season of the PAX version was taped at Santa Clarita Studios in Santa Clarita, California. Beginning in November 20, 2000, the show moved to NBC Studios, with that series' set modeled after a Unified Western Market.
The host for the ABC version was Bill Malone. The announcers were Wally King from 1965 to 1966 and Richard Hayes from 1966 to 1967. The host for the Lifetime and PAX versions was David Ruprecht. The announcer was Johnny Gilbert from 1990 to 1995 and again from April to June 2000, with Randy West taking over for Gilbert in 2000 and continuing for the rest of the series.
On October 13, 2017, it was announced that Fremantle had acquired the global rights to the format and that a revival of the show was in the works. A Fremantle representative stated that "the time is ripe to bring back this all-time favorite game show which has traveled with such success over the years." The company also stated that the new incarnation of the show would incorporate "modern technology" into the program which reflects 21st century shopping habits. Information about what network it will air on, who the host will be, or if the format will remain similar to previous versions has not yet been determined.
Three teams competed. Each team began with a base time of 1:30. In the first part of the game, one contestant from each team was shown a grocery item and were asked to guess its retail price. The team who came the closest won the item and an additional 15 seconds to their time. Four items were played.
In the second part of the game, one contestant from each team went on a shopping spree through the market, using the time accumulated in the first half of the game. Bonus items worth $10–$100 were also spread throughout the store. All teams kept every item they picked up, with the team with the highest total in groceries, bonus prizes and other items winning the right to return to the show and play in the next game. Teams remained on the show until they were defeated or until they reached the winnings cap of $20,000.
The gameplay of the Lifetime/PAX version of Supermarket Sweep consisted of three segments: the question round, the Big Sweep and the Bonus Sweep. The game was played between three teams of two related individuals, such as a parent and child, spouses, siblings or best friends. In the last two rounds, the team members wore sweatshirts of the same color: Team 1: Light Blue or Red; Team 2: Red or Light Blue; Team 3: Yellow. Contestants were seated in the studio audience at the beginning of the show, then called on stage based on a grocery item they held ("Who's got the Charmin toilet paper? OK, you're on!"). The studio audience for a taping consisted of multiple shows' contestants, who were informed prior to the show that they would be appearing.
Three new pairs of contestants appeared in each episode, with no running "returning champions;" select winners could make a second appearance in the show's recurring "Sweep of Champions."
Similar to the original version, all three teams started with a base time of 1:30. Through a series of three rounds, contestants were asked a series of questions, usually centered around knowledge of products found in a grocery store. Each correct answer added 10 seconds to a team's time bank. Questions included identifying a product that was missing letters, determining the brand of a product via an edited picture, and identifying a product based on a series of facts. Occasionally, questions centered around pop culture, movies, or stories found in checkstand tabloids.
Other questions centered around identifying the price of an item. This was accomplished in several different ways; two popular methods included determining which item in a set of three did not fit the designated criteria (e.g. +/- $3.00), or which item was incorrectly priced. A mainstay in the second round gave contestants the opportunity to add 30 seconds to their time banks if all three contestants gave the correct answer.
Occasionally, the second question round was replaced with one of the following games:
- "30-Second Shootout" – At the beginning of the second segment of the question round, both contestants on a team played an individual game, which banked the team 30 seconds of Sweep time. Each team took turns by playing the game individually. The format usually consisted of a contestant guessing a series of words (usually five to seven letters) using clues given by his or her partner. The first letter of each correct answer was a letter in the name of a brand name or item from the market, which the guesser then had to determine to earn the Sweep time. Each of the teams had 30 seconds to achieve this and if a word was inadvertently revealed by the clue-giver, the team forfeited the opportunity to add additional time. On some episodes, an alternative format was used with a picture of a product shown. Each clue changed the product's picture.
- "Snack Attack Movie Game" – Three questions about movies worth 10 seconds each were asked. The contestant who answered the last of the three questions correctly earned the right to take a taste test of a food item in the market; correctly identifying the item earned that team a $50 bonus for the Big Sweep. If the contestant guessed right on a second chance (multiple choice at that point, and consisting of a maximum three choices), that team earned $25. Originally, the question related to the item only had two choices and only the correct choice earned the $50 bonus.
The final round was the "round robin" game. This round feature both team members alternating questions; each correct answer added an additional 10 seconds to their time bank. The most common format featured a brand name that had its letters scrambled. The emcee would then offer a maximum of three clues to help contestants zero in on the correct answer. Occasionally, an alternate format was used that omitted the word scramble; instead, the host would offer five clues.
Beginning in 1991, a Mini-Sweep was played at the beginning of the first round. A toss-up question (usually a rhyming couplet) was asked with a particular product as the answer. The team that correctly answered the question earned 10 seconds, as well as a chance for one team member to run into the market to retrieve a package of that product marked with the show's logo. If the product was returned within 30 seconds, the team won $50 towards their Sweep total. Failing to find the marked package, returning it after time ran out, or bringing back an unmarked package or one of an incorrect product, awarded no bonus. Originally, players were just asked to bring back any one package of the item in question.
A year after its debut, the bonus was doubled to $100 if the product was brought back within 20 seconds. Starting with the fifth season, a second Mini-Sweep was added at the beginning of the second round, and while this was later discontinued as a regular feature, it would be used during special weeks on the PAX version.
The "Big Sweep" was the chance for the teams to run throughout the supermarket and take products from the shelves with the seconds they had earned in the front game. One player for each team was designated as the "runner," with the job of collecting items in a shopping cart, and the teams were assigned numbers based on their accumulated time: 1 for the most, 2 for the second-most, 3 for the least.
The clock for the Big Sweep was set to the leading time, and it started when Team 1 was sent into the market. Teams 2 and 3 were sent in when the clock displayed their respective times. If any of the teams were tied, they were sent into the market at the same time.
A camera operator would follow each shopper throughout the Big Sweep. In each finished episode, the footage was spliced together to create one near-real-time highlight reel, and the announcer would add a play-by-play commentary to the reel, describing the items being placed in each contestant's cart.
At any time, runners could bring full carts back to their partners' checkout counters and exchange them for empty ones. With the exception of certain bonuses, items had to be in a team's cart (either the runner's current one, or a full one already delivered to the checkout) when time ran out in order to count toward their total.
The main rules for the Big Sweep were:
- The teams could only take up to five of each item.
- If an item was knocked off a shelf or otherwise upset or damaged, the runner who did so either had to replace the item on the shelf or put it in his/her cart, or take a $25 penalty for each item. Teams were also penalized for running into supermarket displays, cameramen or any other personnel.
- Only the runners could be in the market; their partners were required to remain at the checkout counter behind a red restraining line and unload the groceries unless specifically allowed across it by producers (who usually only did so to allow a contestant to retrieve a dropped item or bonus, or if there was a bonus moneymaker that involved the partners, such as can stacking or a recycling machine).
The product limit, which was absent in the original ABC version of the show, was added to prevent a team from overloading their carts with expensive items, such as poultry, laundry detergent or over-the-counter drugs. The store was stocked with at least 15 items of each product, ensuring anyone could have as many of a given item as they were allowed if they chose it.
In most episodes early in the show's first season on Lifetime, costumed characters such as Frankenstein's monster, a gorilla or a creature named Mr. Yuck ran through the aisles during the Sweep. If the character came near a contestant or vice versa, the contestant had to turn around and go in the other direction. The characters were dropped later in the season.
A variety of opportunities to earn additional cash were available during the Big Sweep. Examples included completing a shopping list of items provided by the emcee, grinding a designated amount of coffee beans, or finding a mystery product. One constant throughout the run was retrieving what the show termed a "bonus item". Examples of bonus items were stuffed animals, giant signs, or inflatable versions of consumer products. Each bonus item had a sticker that disclosed its value—the maximum value of a bonus item was initially $200; later raised to $250. Special tournament episodes had an additional bonus item worth $300. (Ruprecht referred to the $250 item as the "super bonus" and the $300 item as the "super super bonus.")
Once time expired, a bell rang to signify the end of the Big Sweep and the runners had to stop whatever they were doing and return to the checkout counters. All of the products were scanned while the show took a final commercial break, and the grand totals of each team's takes were revealed when the show returned, beginning with Team 3, and ending with Team 1. Each team's groceries were tallied and any bonuses/penalties were applied to determine the final totals. The team with the highest score won their Sweep total in cash and advanced to the Bonus Sweep for a chance to win an additional $5,000. The other teams received parting gifts. Sweep totals included cents in the first season, but were subsequently rounded to the nearest dollar.
In the Bonus Sweep, the winning team was sent on a treasure hunt and given 60 seconds to find three different items in succession. Ruprecht read a clue to lead the team to the identity of the first item, and once he was done the team darted into the market to try to find it as the clock started. The correct item was tagged with a large circular token bearing the show's logo and a clue for a second item to be found. This item in turn had a clue for a third item, which had a bundle of $5,000 in cash hidden behind it. In order to win, the team had to find all three items and have their hands on the money before time ran out. If they fell short, they received $200 for each item they had found.
Originally, if the team found the final product and the $5,000 before either of the other two, they automatically forfeited the bonus round. However, after the first two seasons, this was changed so that an overhead announcement was made reminding the team to find the first two products, then return to the third product and claim the cash.
During both runs of the show, special tournaments were held periodically, as well as other individual shows in which former teams were invited back for a chance to win more money, a trip aboard a cruise, or a pair of automobiles. In some of the special tournaments, the bonus round was not played; instead, the show's conclusion came after Ruprecht announced the winner. The Friday show always acted as the final.
Seven episodes of the 1960s version survived (the rest were destroyed to recycle film). The Lifetime/PAX version remains completely intact. On April 11, 2015, the pilot episode for the Lifetime version was posted on YouTube by Wink Martindale as part of his "Wink's Vault" series of rare game show findings.
Fremantle owns the worldwide format rights, including the American productions which it acquired in 2018. As of January 15, 2018, Fremantle's American digital subchannel Buzzr airs the 1990s series that originally aired on Lifetime. Episodes from the Lifetime/PAX revival are available on Amazon Video through Buzzr.
A board game based on the original ABC version was manufactured by Milton Bradley in 1966.
A video slot machine based on the Lifetime/PAX version was released to North American casinos by WMS Gaming.
- (1) Currently airing
- (12) No longer airing
|Arab League||El-Sawaq السواق||Ali Mahmoud||GEM TV||2019|
|Argentina||Sume y Lleve||Doris del Valle
|Ana María Campoy|
|Clink Caja||Beruga Carámbula||1996||1996|
|Australia||Supermarket Sweep Australia||Ian Turpie||Nine Network||February 10, 1992||February 4, 1994|
|Brazil||SuperMarket [pt]||Ricardo Corte Real [pt]||Band||August 30, 1993||June 8, 1998|
|RecordTV||September 18, 2000||January, 2001|
|Frederic van Landeghem (Votum)||Één||2012||2012|
|Canada||Supermarket Sweep (English)||Tino Monte||Syndication||1992||1995|
|Global Television Network|
|L'épicerie en folie Metro (French)||Christian Tétreault||TQS||1994||1995|
|Chile||Supermarket||Pablo Krögh||Canal 13||August 21, 1995||November 21, 1997|
|Juan La Rivera|
|Kazuki Kosakai||Nippon TV||April 7, 1991||September 29, 1991|
|Spain||Supermarket||Enrique Simon [es]||Antena 3||February 24, 1992||1992|
|Turkey||Süpermarket||Erdinç Doğan||Kanal 6 [tr]||1993||1994|
|Yiğit Alici||Kanal D||2009||2009|
|United Kingdom||Dale's Supermarket Sweep||Dale Winton||ITV||September 6, 1993||September 6, 2001|
|February 12, 2007||August 31, 2007|
|Supermarket Sweep||Rylan Clark-Neal||ITV2||2019||2019|
|United States||Arrasa con Todo con Kmart (Spanish)||Carlos Calderon
|Univision||February 7, 2011||August 13, 2011|
|Vietnam||Siêu thị may mắn||Thanh Bạch||HTV7||June 5, 2005||February, 2012|