DOVER, NH—Shopper Dan Flemming, after considering a variety of other items including a Tombstone-brand Supreme Taco pizza and a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, is now close to spending his remaining money on a can of Hormel chili, sources reported Tuesday.
"It looks good," Flemming said, handling the 15-oz, $2.39 serving of salted beef and beans in a tomato-based sauce. "Then again, I'm not really sure I'm in the mood for it."
Flemming, 24, who works part time at Yankee Candle Shoppe, had been putting off the purchase since spending his last $5 on a pack of cigarettes and burning his last serving of macaroni and cheese on the stove Monday night. He found almost enough loose change in his efficiency apartment to be able to purchase an Arby's crispy-chicken-and-bacon sandwich, which he had seen advertised on television earlier in the day.
"It really got me thinking," he said. "But it turned out I didn't have enough money, and that's when I decided to go to the grocery store."
Flemming first considered the chili when he saw another shopper putting several cans of Hormel-brand foods in her cart. He began to favor purchasing it, he said, because of his need to buy something that would last until he gets his next paycheck, May 12, and the orange-and-yellow Hormel label lists the number of servings per can as two.
"Maybe I could stretch that to three," Flemming said.
While he was originally determined to purchase a half-pound of ground chuck to make hamburgers, Flemming soon realized he had no buns or cheese and virtually no condiments, three components he considered "vital."
He then quickly adapted his plan, focusing on several packages of ramen noodles, which would have left him change from the six quarters, five dimes, seven nickels, and four pennies he had taken with him. Once in the store, however, he became "overwhelmed" by the food choices available in his price range, and the ramen-noodle strategy was abandoned.
Hot Pockets were briefly considered.
"The pepperoni ones would hit the spot," Flemming said, remembering a moment later that his microwave needed repairs.
"So, that would mean 30 minutes in the oven."
Flemming cited the chili's versatility as a determining factor in his thinking, recalling vague memories of instructions he'd seen on the backs of past cans for making taco dip, and at one point he had placed a can of Turkey Chili With Beans in his shopping basket, but realized that the jar of Velveeta necessary to prepare the dip would put him over budget.
"It's possible that I have some cheese in the refrigerator and forgot about it or something," he said. "But I can't be sure."
A brief obsession with making eggs Benedict ended with the realization that it, too, was outside both his spending limit and cooking ability.
"I thought they might have some mix or some instant version," he said. "But it looks like they haven't invented that yet."
Flemming then accidentally wandered into the cleaning-goods aisle before working his way back to the chili aisle.
Though he acknowledges that the purchase of a Hormel food item is now "an eventuality," Flemming still finds it difficult to choose from the variety of goods within the company's family of products. Especially troubling is the choice between Chunky Chili With Beans and Hot Chili With Beans.
"I really like the chunky, but I also really like hot sauce," Flemming said before noticing a can of Less-Sodium Chili on the shelf below, appealing to his frequent desire to eat healthy foods.
"I wish I hadn't spotted that," he said.
Despite the obstacles, Flemming said he remains focused on "finding something good."
"In a case like this, you just have to suck it up and choose one," he said, inspecting the undersides of two cans of taco-flavored chili. "Sometimes I wish I wasn't so picky."