When I was in my 20s and visiting friends who had left New York, I was often taken to supermarkets as a cultural tourist.
In Minneapolis I was introduced to Lunds (now known as Lunds & Byerly’s), which had been around in various formations since the early 20th century. There were boxed Swedish cookies and pancake mixes I had never seen before, meant to appeal to a population strong in Scandinavian traditions.
In Los Angeles, it was Ralphs. This was still a few years before the store would be memorialized in “The Big Lebowski,” but such was its celebrity, my friends would show it off as if it were the Taj Mahal. Everything seemed greener, fresher, more voluptuously ripe. Whatever sacrifices of urbanity were to be made in a relocation from New York to L.A. would obviously be offset by the glories of produce.
On Sunday, another beloved regional chain, Wegmans, which began as a pushcart vegetable business in 1916 on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, in New York, will open in the hipster industrial landscape of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.