"Generic" packaging ca. 1980 - your memories and thoughts about it

Target was the first store where I noticed that sort of thing, with their Market Pantry and Archer Farms brands, but I don’t know if they were actually the first.

I also remember a generic brand of coffee beans you had to grind yourself. The store provided the grinding machines and packages for those of us who had none at home.

The coffee was never as good as Mrs Olsen’s, but it was all I could afford.

This is weird…I remember the generic no-brand store packaging well. It was the early to mid 80s, when I was just starting to buy my own groceries. Some stuff I bought no-brand, some I only trusted name brand. Spaghetti noodles? No-brand. Spaghetti sauce? Name brand.

The weird part— I remember white packaging with black lettering, but also with a diagonal red stripe across the package. It may have been a double red stripe. But nobody has mentioned the red stripe in this thread, and googling variations on “generic no-brand packaging” I only see white or yellow packaging with black lettering as described here, no red stripe. If I try to Google “generic no-brand packaging red stripe” I just get a bunch of image hits for Red Stripe beer.

Anybody remember the red striped no-brand packaging? Or am I misremembering or experiencing a Berenstain Bears effect?

Winn-Dixie used to have tiered store brands. I don’t remember the hierarchy, but Astor was the lowest cost IRRC.

Even supermarket brands are actually name brand underneath, it’s just which deal the stores struck each week that determines which brand it is. They may be different every time you purchase. So there’s a luck of the draw on quality or consistency if you go with the cheaper supermarket home brands.

They had generic goods at Giant Eagle. A buddy of mine worked there and tipped us off on which ones were good. I remember the potato chips were, but the bag was big, so you had to make sure you kept them fresh.

My buddy said they regularly got questions from customers about where to find the “genetic” and “geriatric” products (this was in West Virginia).

I’m not sure what you mean by this - I’m pretty sure Stop and Shop doesn’t contract with different manufacturers each week ( or even each month) for their store brand peanut butter, ice cream , hot dog buns etc.

Exactly my experience. I worked on the labeling line in the warehouse of a canning factory. It was my job to set up the machines to slap labels on the cans. I’d switch labels throughout a run according to the orders going out. “Jolly Green Giant”, “Shur Fine”, “Food Club”… all exactly the same product, we’d just label it as it went out the door.

I remember the local generics (I believe from Jewel foods) being in a white package with an olive green and a black double-stripe (one over the other) and the text in faux-stencil lettering.

While I don’t have strong memories of most of it (yup, that’s chicken noodle soup all right) I do have a vivid memory of my buddy and I once buying a bottle of “Brandy” from the liquor department. Same generic packaging and just “Brandy”. So of course we bought it for the laughs and of course it was some of the most vile stuff we’ve ever tasted.

I was once approached by an American importer of rotgut liquor to become his sales agent in Moscow. The booze was produced in China and had artificial flavors and coloring added while it was being bottled.

Fortunately, the deal never got off the ground. I’m sure the stuff was vile.

There’s a large “No Frills” grocery chain in Canada, and a smaller one in the U.S. The latter got some attention a few years ago when this happened.

Save-a-Lot also has a lot of no-name brands, and I don’t think they supply bags either. I have never gotten into the Aldi habit (not sure why) so IDK what is going on with them this week.

I remember the generics from when I was in college as well.
One store had all the generics together on the sam aisle. It was striking that way.

I also remember the discussions about how marketing was responsible for the higher prices on name brand products. The black and white/yellow labels were a result of that chatter

What I recall, and I was a small child at the time, so it may not be entirely reliable, is that the “generic” stuff was more gimmicky than anything else. Stores already had house brands- “Food Club” is the one that sticks in my mind as having been nearly ubiquitous in my area for stuff like canned goods.

Some stores carried their house brands AND the generic stuff, with the generic stuff being more commodity-type undifferentiated items like say… egg noodles or tomato paste, and priced a bit lower than the house branded stuff. I remember my parents not being terribly enticed by the generic idea because of the generic labeling - “Spread”? “Beer”? “Spaghetti Sauce”? I think they preferred a bit more description - maybe “Lager Beer” or “Onion and Mushroom Spaghetti Sauce”.

Sorry, but this is inaccurate. The contracts between store chains and the manufacturers are for at least a quarter, more often 6 months to a full year. Not efficient to make them for a shorter term. It can take weeks just to get labels printed & delivered.

The week to week changes are usually for brand-labeled goods. Like Green Giant has an excess of canned corn, so they offer discounted deals to stores to sell off the extra. That shows up in stores labeled Green Giant, but as the “Special Sale” in the weekly store ads.

In the 1970’s, I worked in a potato chip factory. We had about 20 packaging lines, and often 2 or 3 of them would be packaging generic/store brands, while the others were the name brand labels. But all the chips were coming out of the same fryer, so basically the same.

Often the generic/store brands were done on the machines at the end of the production line, so slightly more cracked/broken chips. And on days when the potatoes were lower quality, they would tend to run more of the generic/store brands. But still largely the same product.

A bit earlier than “'80s generic,” but does anybody remember “Hamburger II” from the mid-70s? Did it start the trend toward cut-rate groceries as the US economy spiraled downhill? You can see an advert for it in the later intros to MTM, where Mary’s shopping in a supermarket. I’ve always wondered if it was something unique to the Upper Midwest, or if it was flogged in other parts of the country as well.

A mixture of ground beef and soy extender, it didn’t taste bad, exactly. It did, however, remind me of the hamburgers served in my high school cafeteria.

I’ve seen the “Western Family” brand in stores here on the west coast, like Select Foods Market (I think that was the name, I’m having a tough time Googling it, actually), Ray’s Food Place, and maybe the Holiday Market too. I don’t know if I ever saw it at an Albertsons specifically, although I would’ve considered them to be a higher tier of grocery store then all the others that I mentioned. We bought a lot of Western Family brand items when I was a kid… everything from bread to batteries.

The “generic” labeling described in the OP predates me by quite a bit and I don’t recall seeing anything like that in my childhood.

We called those “sawdust burgers,” though we knew they contained no actual sawdust. Still, there was something in there with the beef, and I guess a soy extender was it. Still, with plenty of mustard, relish, pickles, and other condiments on them, they were perfectly edible.

And we were kids in those days, so our tastes weren’t very demanding. If families and school cafeterias could save a little bit on burgers that the kids would happily eat whether they were expensive 100% beef or cheaper sawdust burgers, then it was all good.

I always wondered if Hamburger II was intended to be eaten with Hamburger Helper, which came out around the same time.

Loblaws/Real Canadian Superstore/No Frills has been going all-in with the no-name branding, selling tongue-in-cheek yellow items such as “Beach Towel - For The Beach” and “Ice Pack - To Keep Things Cool”

They even have a nice metal water bottle. For drinking.

Googling “Hamburger II” led to a whole first Google page of links to a German soccer team.