Double sawbuck disappears

The $20 dollar project records what that sum of moolah will buy in Metblog cities around the world. What follows is a list of items on an actual sales slip from Saturday’s stocking-up expedition to H-E-B. The H. E. Butt Grocery Company, homegrown in Texas and over a century old, continues to hold its own against the real big guys, with its H-E-B stores and its Central Market stores. Long may it stay that way.

King Arthur unbleached flour, to begin holiday baking now that it’s cooler ($2.34)
El Galindo restaurant chips, unsalted, local brand, our personal favorites, although El Lago and the Whole Foods brands aren’t bad ($2.00)
El Galindo yellow corn tortillas, 10-count, local brand, nothing but yellow corn, water, and lime ($.84)
TV Notas, because I follow the telenovelas and because our favorite Adamari Lopez is on the cover ($2.95)
H-E-B regular eggnog, quart, first of the season ($1.99)
H-E-B fresh sausage, hot ($2.00)
H-E-B frozen baby lima beans; H-E-B Fordhook limas also available ($1.34)
Falfurrias butter, 1 pound, for baking and eating; a Texas brand ($2.44)
spicy Texas slaw, H-E-B made; what used to be called “Spanish cole slaw” and just as good as Luby’s or the Frisco’s ($1.94)
small limes, 8, for margaritas ($1.00)

That’s not quite $20; using pencil and paper, I make it out to be $1.16 short. We do pay sales tax here, though. The list is fairly representative of some of what anybody might head for H-E-B to buy. Also on the sales slip, although not listed above (and taking total purchases well over $20) is a whole lot of H-E-B natural chicken (reported to be Buddy’s Natural in disguise, packaged for H-E-B). The quantity isn’t on the sales slip and it’s unknown, because it’s all been cooked and a lot of it’s been eaten since then and there’s no packaging left. As people who enjoy a classic margarita, straight up, not on the rocks or frozen, we follow the lime index quite closely. At its worst, it has stood at 3 limes for a dollar; at its best, a dollar may be exchanged for a dozen limes.

Fresh vegetables were already in stock, from the South Austin farmers’ market and from Wheatsville. So were eggs from Del Valle, courtesy of the Farm to Market Grocery on South Congress. In looking over the register slip, I was surprised to find how many H-E-B house brands and other local and semi-local items we buy. And those chips? They go with Pace Picante Sauce, Jaime’s Spanish Village Restaurant Hot Tomatillo Jalapeno Garlic Sauce, and homemade pico de gallo. These purchases were made a day before the initial posting about the $20 project and two days before I heard about it and so were not in any way, form, shape, or manner influenced by it. A bonus is that on the back of the register slip is a coupon for Sazon (buy one entree and two drinks, receive the second entree at half price). And that’s why I still have the slip in my possession and therefore was able to recount what became of twenty bucks.

7 Comments so far

  1. Pat Doyle (unregistered) on November 8th, 2007 @ 3:00 pm

    Been patronizing the Haisheebee for over 20 years. No store could ever hold a candle to its quality and price per capita. Fiesta came close early on but quickly slid downhill in terms of quality.

    Gotta plug El Milagro for the best home grown Mexican staples in town, although I do prefer to shop at their factory on E. Sixth because it’s fresher. They’re the most delicate and tasty chips in the hood (tortillas too,) and you can’t beat the downtown location.

  2. Rantor (unregistered) on November 8th, 2007 @ 3:42 pm

    I like Milagro chips just fine, but prefer the robust texture of others, rather than the Milagro delicacy. Remember when there was a family that used to drive up here and set up an outdoor fruit and vegetable operation right next to Maldonado’s Record Store (before it was La Tejanita)? Milagro was right across the street and we used to pick up warm corn tortillas there–so fresh! The deal with tostadas is the same as with potato chips, I think–partly the taste for thin and pale versus thicker and not pale–and it *is* merely a matter of personal preference. One thing I love about H-E-B, although it drives some people crazy, is that the stock and atmosphere of each store are very much a reflection of the manager and staff of that particular store. There’s not much of an attempt at imposition of uniformity across the board. That makes it possible to do a tour de H-E-B and find hitherto unknown wonders at each one.

  3. Ruralist (unregistered) on November 9th, 2007 @ 7:30 am

    Falfurrias butter. Heh.

    Not Texan. Not Texas made. The Lasaters sold the name to some mega-corp-dairy back in the ’70s. The butter hasn’t been made in Falfurrias for a long, long time.

    It’s a little weird to walk into a grocery store and see a popular brand bearing the name of the town I grew up in.

    /Well, not “in”, but “near”. On the family ranch.

  4. Rantor (unregistered) on November 9th, 2007 @ 9:01 am

    The package says, “Proud to be a product of Texas. Go Texan.” So not in Falfurrias, but somewhere in the Lone Star State, or so it’s claimed. It does still taste different and better to me than other brands of butter. The owners of the brand also own these: Keller’s, Hotel Bar, Breakstone’s, Borden, Mid-America Farms and Plugrá.

    “Go Texan” has a big outline of the state along with a fairly big blurb; on the other hand, Kellers and Falfurrias aren’t terms that just jump right to th forefront on the state ag dep’t Go Texan site.

  5. Pat (unregistered) on November 9th, 2007 @ 9:15 am

    Agreed on your potato chip/tortilla chip analogy. I try to avoid the thick chips these days. One Friday night binge can lead to one very expensive dentist’s bill on Monday. :^)

  6. Ruralist (unregistered) on November 9th, 2007 @ 9:48 am

    I assumed that the butter (and other Kellers products) where made in Undisclosed Location, USA.

    But I was wrong:

  7. Rantor (unregistered) on November 9th, 2007 @ 10:03 am

    So it’s apparently produced in Wood County these days and so the “Go Texan” logo is not inappropriate. Without the comment I wouldn’t have learned that the fancy Plugra pretend-French butter seen at HoFu and Central Market is one of a group of brands that includes Falfurrias. I do love Falfurrias butter and I bet that the old-timey package design continues to attract people who buy it for the first time. The Handbook of Texas reports that the Lasaters once owned what was said to be the largest dairy herd of Jerseys in the world. Of course, that was back when butterfat content really meant something, before people became frightened of it and before the dominance of Holstein-esque herds and going all-out for production, production, production

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