Any Other Takers for a Bushel of Ding Dongs? : Shopping: Penny-pinching can't be the only attraction of buying food by the pallet-load.

Judy Lane is director of alumni relations at UC's Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco

'Tis the season to be shopping. And eating, apparently. I went to one of those industrial supermarkets for my Thanksgiving supplies this year. You know, the kind that leases space in airplane hangars. The Armageddon stores.

Toothpaste can be purchased only by the case, garbanzo beans by the gross, and mayonnaise jars come with ladders. Everyone is racing around furiously stocking up on cases of toilet paper. Do these people know something I don't?

You know immediately that you're not at the neighborhood grocery when you see complete amateurs awkwardly steering pallets through the maze of wares. I think, as a minimum, customers should be required to have learner's permits for these things. You've never experienced true danger till you've seen one of these vehicles heading straight for your shins with only a shock of blue hair peering out over the horizon of cartons of denture cream and 5-foot cylinders of oatmeal.

Aside from my obvious curiosity about how these merrymakers plan to eat all this stuff, I have more practical questions. Like, where do they store it? Do they have mini-warehouses attached to their homes, or home-style forklifts to get those 150-gallon cans of pork and beans way in the back on the very top shelf? And, are these stores just a little more popular in Waco, Tex.?

I'm told the main reason for this buy-in-quantity mentality is to save money. But is it worth saving 15 cents a can on hair spray when you have to buy a quantity that could accommodate every country-Western singer from here to Nashville for a year? Sure, butter is 2 cents a pound, but it comes in a 50-gallon drum. You have to rent equipment just to get it home. And guess what. It doesn't fit in that little shelf in the refrigerator.

I suppose if you're having the Osmond Family over for dinner or planning a picnic for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, you may see the utility in a caldron of potato salad. But for a lot of people like me, a bushel of Ding Dongs can be dangerous.

I wonder how many pumpkin pies you can top with a 25-gallon can of whipped cream.

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