There's a relatively new store in a near-by town here in north Wicklow where you can find all sorts of specialty and high quality foods – with prices to match. The store is in Greystones, a very nice town somewhat overstretched by Celtic Tiger excess. Generally speaking the people of Greystones are fairly well-heeled, which explains why the owners of the food specialty store chose to locate in Greystones.
They deal in great-tasting cakes, fine wines, exotic fowl and fish, imported Italian ingredients, etc. You get the picture. Only, there's one shelf devoted to American 'delicacies' that might not strike the average American shopper as worthy of such an establishment. I'm talking about Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, Jif peanut butter, Betty Crocker cake mix, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Marshmallow Fluff and other 'fine foods'.
All of these 'exotic' American foods come with the same mark-up as the rest of the food in the store. I actually like peanut butter and would love a jar of Jif, but I balk at paying an exorbitant amount for a $4 jar. You can get an Irish peanut butter that isn't too bad for about a third of what the Jif costs. As for the Fluff the very idea repulses me, which makes it all the more inexplicable that someone would spend top dollar for a jar of the stuff.
Of all the items, however, the ones that I was really surprised by were the cereals. You can get a box of Fruit Loops for €9 ($12) or a box of Lucky Charms for €10 ($13.30). Just how desperate for Lucky Charms do you have to be that you'd lay out that kind of money for a small box?
It's not like it's a case of porridge or nothing here. Your average supermarket stocks most of the cereals available in America, including many of the junky, sugary ones. Cocoa Puffs, Frosted Flakes and others are available for a fraction of the cost of that box of Lucky Charms. No, you'd have to be especially keen on Lucky Charms to want to spend 13 bucks on a box. I can't imagine it.
I'd really like to know how many boxes of Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms they've sold. More exciting, however, would be to see someone actually buying a box. I'd love to get a look at the type of person who makes such judgments of value. I doubt I could resist asking them, "How much would be too much to pay for a bowl of Lucky Charms?"