Supermarket Sweep

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the Australian version, see Supermarket Sweep Australia. For the UK version, see Dale's Supermarket Sweep.
Supermarket Sweep
Genre Game show
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)
5 (Lifetime)
3 (PAX)
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 (2000–01)
Jim Rossi (2001–03)
Location(s) Food Fair (1965–67)
Hollywood Center Studios
Hollywood, California (1990–95)
Santa Clarita Studios
Santa Clarita, California (2000-2001)
NBC Studios
Burbank, California (2001–03)
Running time 22–26 minutes
Production company(s) Talent Associates (1965–67)
Al Howard Productions (1990–95, 2000–03)
Original network ABC (1965–67)
Lifetime (1990–95)
PAX (2000–03)
Original release December 20, 1965 (1965-12-20)–July 14, 1967 (1967-07-14)
February 5, 1990 (1990-02-05)–June 16, 1995 (1995-06-16)
April 3, 2000 (2000-04-03) – May 23, 2003 (2003-05-23)
Related shows Dale's Supermarket Sweep

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.

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) until April 2000, when it was remodeled again after a Unified Western Market. The first season of the PAX version was filmed at Santa Clarita Stuidos in Santa Clarita, California. Beginning in August 2001, the show moved to NBC Studios.

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, with Johnny Olson and Gene Wood as frequent substitutes during those years. 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.

Game play[edit]

ABC version[edit]

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.

Lifetime/PAX versions[edit]

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. The show gave the appearance that pairs were chosen to be contestants based on who in the audience (or in the show's last two seasons, the market) held pre-distributed grocery items that the announcer called for at the beginning of the show.

Question round[edit]

Like the ABC version, all three teams started with a base time of 1:30. The questions answered correctly added time to their clocks. The round was divided into three segments; in the first two segments, one teammate from each team answered a variety of questions and/or played one of several games that involved pricing everyday grocery items, with the teammates switching between segments. The third segment was the Round Robin game, in which the teammates rotated after each question.

Question types[edit]

Contestants were asked a series of questions, usually with specific brands of grocery items as answers; each question was worth 10 seconds. In each round, the questions followed a specific format, which varied between rounds and shows. The formats used on the show included:

  • Guessing which item a series of interesting facts described.
  • Guessing which item went with a particular slogan or jingle.
  • Determining the brand name of a product, the picture of which had the brand name edited out.
  • Selecting one or more answers to a series of questions from a bank of six possible choices. A variant was called "Three Right" where three of the six choices were correct and all three contestants buzzed in and guessed which one of the three items that were correct.
  • Filling in blanks to reveal a product's name; contestants were either given clues and/or letters that were progressively added (either randomly or spelled backwards). Variants included only the starting and ending letters, or a partially filled name with some letters missing; both variants involved three clues being read.
  • "Fill in the Blank" – Two phrases, each featuring a blank, are seen, and both blanks have the same word. A later version was similar to Before & After puzzles on Wheel of Fortune, with a blank in the middle.
  • "This or That" – Selecting the correct answer earned 10 seconds; selecting the wrong one gave the other two teams 10 seconds each; A similar variation used was called "Fact or Not a Fact", which determined whether a statement about a product is true or false.
  • "Animal Sounds" – Given three to five animals (cow, sheep, pig, chicken, and/or fish) as the answer choices, for which contestants must make the correct animal's sound. If three animals were given, there was a rule in which they would answer by making a raspberry-blowing sound if it did not belong to any of the three animals.
  • "Twisted" – Guessing a product's name from synonyms and/or antonyms that replaced each word, or giving the word or a phrase that is the opposite or almost the opposite of the product's name (For example, "Cow's Ear" is a clue for Bull's-Eye Barbecue Sauce).
  • "Supermarket Trivia" – Trivia questions were asked about items found or sold in the supermarket.
  • "Checkstand Headlines" – Facts about a famous person or event that were read about in checkstand tabloids were given to the contestants, and the contestants were to guess what the fact referred to.
  • "Proverbs" – Facts about well-known expressions were given to the contestants, and the contestants were to guess by completing these popular expressions with items found or sold in the supermarket.
  • "Video Rental" – Questions were asked about popular movies.

Pricing games[edit]

The Supermarket Sweep logo from February 5, 1990 to May 28, 1993

During each segment, different games were played involving everyday groceries. These games varied from day to day and generally involved the following objectives:

  • Selecting which of three items was priced above or below a certain amount, was not a given price, was on sale, was incorrectly priced, was correctly priced, or was the most expensive
  • Determining how much of one item could be bought for a certain amount of money
  • Guessing whether the actual price for a product was higher or lower than the one displayed (or in some cases, whether the displayed price was correct)

Other variants that did not involve pricing items included:

  • "Fat Chance" – Three items are shown, and the contestants must determine which item has the fewest grams of fat
  • "County Fair" – The contestants are shown an unusual item and must guess its use from three possibilities

If a contestant was correct, the team earned 10 seconds. In the case of games where each contestant had to choose which answer they thought was right, 30 seconds was awarded to each team if all three chose the correct answer.

Special games[edit]

  • "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 the clues given by his or her partner (similar to Pyramid and Password). 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 (40 in the final Lifetime season), and if a word was accidentally blurted out by the clue-giver, the team was disqualified automatically. An original rule was that once a clue was used on one of the words in the list, it was not to be used again (doing so also lead to disqualification of that team), however this rule was later scrapped. 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.

Round Robin game[edit]

For the final segment before the Big Sweep, the players that played the first half of the game were called back out and each took turns attempting to answer a series of six (originally four) puzzles about a product or a brand name featured in the supermarket. Each correct answer was worth ten seconds.

The Round Robin game was played several ways, with the most common being an "unscramble the word" game. The three teams would be shown the scrambled word or words in the brand name, and three clues would be read one at a time to try to lead the players to the correct answer. If after all three clues were read no answer was given, they were repeated in a rapid-fire fashion and the teams had one last chance to answer. If they still could not answer, the solution was given and nobody received any seconds.

Sometimes, the round was played with no scrambled word, with five clues read one at a time.


Beginning in season 3, 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 ten 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.

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.

Big Sweep[edit]

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.

At any time, runners could bring full carts back to their teams' cash registers and exchange them for empty ones. When time ran out, only items in the runners' carts were included in the team totals. While the runners were in the market, the show's announcer offered commentary on the proceedings.

The three 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).

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.

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.

Once the clock reached zero, 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 registers. 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. 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.


Many bonuses were available during the Big Sweep at different times during the show's run. Each contestant was only able to take one of each bonus type. Except for the Bonus Specials shown below, all items picked up by the runner had to be in the shopping cart (and properly bagged/sealed, if necessary), or over the red line painted on the floor around the checkout counters, before time ran out in order to count. Some of these included:

  • "Bonus Specials" (Value: $50–$200, later up to $250) – The only bonus feature to appear in every episode. Three jumbo-sized stuffed animals, giant inflated balloons of products, or cardboard promotional signs for products with bonus tags attached to them were scattered throughout the market. In order for the bonus to count, the runner had to bring the item over the red line before the time expired, without destroying the item or removing the tag. A runner was allowed to steal an opposing team's item if it was left unprotected before getting it to the checkouts.
These over-sized products and/or signs were worth $50, $100 or $200. In July 1993, a fourth bonus worth $250 (dubbed the "Super Bonus") was added to the market. During the Twin Car Giveaway Tournament, a $300 bonus (dubbed the "Super Super Bonus") was added, replacing the $50 bonus.
  • "Coffee" (Value: $100, later $200) – Three 1-pound bags of coffee beans were placed next to a grinder. A runner was required to grind a pound of beans, seal the bag, and place it in the cart. The grinder was set up so that the runner had to hold its start button down in order to operate it.
  • "Candy" (Value: $100, later $200) – Runners were required to fill a bag with a dollar's worth of loose candy, give or take two cents, with a display scale to assist them in doing so. In earlier editions, contestants simply used a paper bag. In later editions, players used a plastic bag and were then required to use a twist tie to seal the bag.
When the candy was first introduced, both it and the coffee bonus were available in every episode. Starting in 2002, only one of the bonuses was offered per episode, and its value was doubled to $200.
  • "Shopping List" (Value: $250, later $300 for the Alphabet Game) – Before the Sweep, Ruprecht gave a list of three products in the market to be found. The "Alphabet Game" was played the same way, but with Ruprecht mentioning three consecutive letters of the alphabet as well as the products beginning with those letters. The products had to be placed in a mini-basket that was located in front of the cart to count, and only one of each item; multiple mini-baskets could be used if needed. Other variations included the following:
    • "Magazine Display" – Picking up three (or four) magazines that were listed by Ruprecht, from the many titles to choose from.
    • "Jelly Belly Machine" – Bagging three flavors of Jelly Belly jelly beans that Ruprecht wanted from the many flavors that were available.
    • "International Bread Center" – Bagging certain quantities of three bread types that were listed by Ruprecht, from the many bread types on display.
    • "Fruit Fantasy" – Putting certain quantities of lemons, apples, oranges, and grapefruits into a fruit basket, to be picked up in the market's produce section.
    • "Breakfast Break" – Getting five breakfast items that Ruprecht asked for with the help of their partners; this was later changed to two breakfast items and then dropped completely.
    • "Cake" (Value: $100) – Designing a cake and writing the show's name and the team's number on the top.
    • "Frozen Yogurt Machine" – Dispensing three flavors of frozen yogurt into a plastic cup, from the following four flavors: Triple Fudge Chocolate, Vanilla Bean Dream, Sweet Peachy Peach, and Berry Berry Raspberry. The flavors also had to be dispensed in a certain order.
  • "Mystery Product" (Value: $250, $300 if a movie) – Runners tried to find a product using clues displayed on three television monitors in the market. This bonus was later changed to the use of two television monitors from September 2001–May 2003. Another variation included "Splitting the Name", with one half of a product's name on each of the two monitors.
    • For the "$300 Movie", midway through the Sweep, Ruprecht announced "Activate the TV monitors", at which point the television monitors came into play. Each monitor displayed either the name of one of the movie's stars, or other certain clues to the movie's title.
  • "Manager's Special" or "Red Tag Special" (Value: $200) – During the Sweep, Ruprecht announced the "Manager's Special" or the "Red Tag Special" of the day via the market's loudspeaker. The contestant had to run to a red-and-white barrel at the front of the market or a shopping cart at the back of the market that was filled with products and find the specially marked item. An unmarked item awarded no bonus to the team, even if it was the correct product.
  • "Stack Job" (Value: $100, later $150) – Runners had to find one of three bags filled with empty soda cans that were spread throughout the market and return the bag to their partner. The partner then had to go to a side table and stack all 21 cans in the shape of a pyramid as shown before the Sweep began. Doing so awarded a token for the bonus.
  • "Recycle Machine" (Value: $100) – The partner had to go to the recycling machine and recycle all 10 cans into the machine, one at a time, after which the machine issued a $100 receipt.
  • "Super Sandwich" (Value: $200) – Three tables were placed at one side of the market, each set up with the ingredients for a submarine sandwich: roll, meats, cheeses, lettuce, condiments, etc. Each runner could go to one of the tables and use all the items on it to build the sandwich, then wrap it in aluminum foil and seal it in a bag with a twist-tie. In order to receive the bonus, all the ingredients had to be used and the bag needed to be sealed.
  • "Sweep Swipe" or "Market Madness" (Value: $200–$250) – A limited supply of items (two cases of candy, five boxes of detergent, etc.) were placed in front of three side tables or three stationary shopping carts, one for each of the three teams. Runners moved the items (from the floor or from another team's table or cart) to their own table/cart, one at a time. For each item in a team's possession at the end of the Big Sweep, they received a bonus (either $50 or $100 per item).
  • "Cracker Jackpot" or "Jolly Time Is Money" (Value: $100, later $150 for Jolly Time is Money; $200 for the Cracker Jackpot) – Runners tore open boxes of Cracker Jack or emptied bags of Jolly Time Popcorn in order to find a token with the show's shopping cart logo on it.
  • "Bonus Envelope" (Value: $200) – Halfway through the Sweep, the host announced a clue to a specific product. After hearing the clue, the partners at the checkout counter ran into the market to find their teammates and give them the clue. If the teammate pointed the actual item out to the runner, the money was lost. Runners had to find the product and take the bonus envelope that was located next to it. A variation was played with movie titles at the video stand.
  • "Giant Box of Laundry Detergent" (Value: $25–$100) – A giant box of laundry detergent (Cheer or Gain) was located at the back of the store with four colored envelopes attached (one $100, three $25; later $25, $50, $75, $100). Each runner could take one envelope and have its value added to the team total.
  • "Balloon Pop" (Value: $150) – Three shopping carts or large garbage bags filled with balloons were located in one of the back corners of the supermarket. Runners brought back one of the carts or bags to the checkouts for their partners to pop. Their partners had to pop all balloons before the time had expired.
  • "Instant Coupon Machines" – A contestant won bonus money by taking a coupon from a machine attached to the shelves and picking up the indicated product nearby.
  • "Double/Triple Coupons" – Coupons placed near certain items would double or triple their value as marked.

Bonus Sweep[edit]

In the Bonus Sweep, the winning team was given 60 seconds to find three different items. 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 the show's logo and a clue for a second item to be found. This item in turn had a clue for a third one, which had the $5,000 prop tucked in next to it. In order to win, the team had to find all three items and be holding both the third one and the money prop 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 or a trip.

Twin Car Giveaway[edit]

From September 5–30, 1994, at the beginning of the show's final season on Lifetime, a month-long Twin Car Giveaway tournament was held. During the first three weeks of the tournament, a standard game was played each day. The twelve teams with the highest Big Sweep totals from these episodes at the end of the third week returned for the fourth and final week, in which games were played with no Mini Sweep or Bonus Sweep. The six teams with the highest Big Sweep totals during that final week returned for the Friday show to play for a pair of Geo Trackers. On the Friday show, the first three teams played an eight-question Round Robin game, where each correct answer was worth $50 towards their Sweep total. Each of the first three teams then had a flat three minutes in the Big Sweep. This process was repeated for the other three teams. At the end of the show, the team with the highest Big Sweep total won the two cars (a combined value of more than $25,000) in addition to whatever else that they won on their previous shows. All other teams kept their prior winnings.

Other tournaments and specials[edit]

Occasionally, former teams were invited back to play for additional money or a trip. These consisted largely of "Sweeps of Champions" (later called "Second Chance"), which gave previous winners a chance to go on another Bonus Sweep for the opportunity to play and get a second chance at $5,000. On a few early "Sweep of Champions" episodes, former contestants were invited back for a chance to double their money to $10,000.

Several special week-long contests were held in which the bonus sweep was not played at the end of each episode. Instead, the team winning the week-long contest was guaranteed to win $5,000 at the end of the Friday episode. This included "You Can't Lose!" (which featured former teams who lost during their first appearance), "Tournament of Heroes" (featuring teams of military members) and "Family Week". Other contests, such as "Cruise to Paradise" and "Cruise Week", featured teams competing for a grand prize of a cruise, awarded to the team with the largest Big Sweep total at the end of the week.

"Double Your Money Week", a contest featured on the PAX version, invited the three highest-winning teams from the Monday through Thursday episodes to compete again on Friday, with the grand total of the team who won the final Big Sweep that day doubled to $10,000.

Another special feature, "Mother-Daughter Week", featured mother-daughter teams competing, sometimes with daughters under the age of 18.

International versions[edit]

Country Local name Host Network Years aired
Argentina Argentina Sume y Lleve Doris del Valle and Emilio Disi
Ana María Campoy and Daniel Castex
Canal 9 1987–1988
Clink Caja Beruga Carámbula 1996
Australia Australia Supermarket Sweep Australia Ian Turpie Nine Network 1992–1994
Brazil Brazil SuperMarket Ricardo Corte Real Band 1990–1993
Canada Canada (French) L'épicerie en folie Metro Christian Tétreault TQS 1994-1995
Canada (English) Supermarket Sweep Tino Monte Syndication
Global Television Network
Chile Chile Supermarket Pablo Krögh
Juan La Rivera
Canal 13 1995–1996
Greece Greece Σούπερ Μάρκετ Pounentis Matt
Michael Tsaousopoulos
ANT1 1993–1994
Japan Japan Ikkaku senkin! Kazuki Kosakai Nippon TV 1991
Spain Spain Supermarket Enrique Simon Antena 3 1992
Turkey Turkey Süpermarket Erdinç Doğan
Yiğit Alici
Kanal 6
Kanal D
Ukraine Ukraine Шоу Шара
Shou Shara
Gennady Popenko
Yulia Kovaleva
ICTV 2013–present
United Kingdom United Kingdom Supermarket Sweep
Dale's Supermarket Sweep
Dale Winton ITV 1993–2001
United States U.S. (Spanish) Arrasa con Todo con Kmart Carlos Calderon and Carolina Delgado Univision February 7–August 13, 2011

Episode status[edit]

Seven episodes of the 1960s version survive and are owned by HBO, which controls most of the Talent Associates library (the rest were destroyed to recycle film). The Lifetime/PAX version remains intact and is owned by Al Howard. In early 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.

FremantleMedia and its subsidiaries own most of the international versions. The Canadian version airs in reruns on GameTV, and the British version airs in reruns on Challenge.


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.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]