Let’s Go To An Australian Supermarket!

All right, class, find your buddy and take them by the hand…we’re going on a class trip to Australia to check out an Australian supermarket!

Surely there are better reasons to go to Australia, like the Sydney Opera House or kangaroos or Olivia Newton John, but as a lover of food and food shopping and grocery stores, I was fascinated to go into a mainstream grocery store today to see how it differed from its American cousins. And the one that I chose, Cole’s, was a perfect choice because it couldn’t have been more conventional. It is to Sydney what D’Agastino’s is to New York and Ralph’s is to California. It’s where normal people go to shop and, because of that, it’s easier to compare the differences. So hop into my cart and let’s see what there is to see.

First, we hang a left into produce and spy boxes of something you don’t often see in America:


I’m sure you can find fruit mince pies if you really want them (probably around Christmas) but there were several stacks of these near the tomatoes (pronounced to-MAH-toes, in Australia, in case you didn’t know that). Next up, look what they call the arugula:


Sure, when Australians (and the British) come to our country they probably say: “Look what they call the rocket.”

And, as previously noted, peppers are…


Here’s something I’ve never seen before (seems like a nice thing to have around to add some punch to things):


In the meat section, the obligatory…




More interestingly, ox kidney and ox heart. When was the last time you saw THAT at Ralph’s?


Did I buy anything on this jaunt through the store? I did, an edible souvenir to take back to America (I plan to try it there with toast and butter; hopefully it’ll go better than our Marmite experiment):


Hey what are NAPPIES:


Turns out they’re diapers.

I think Australia’s jarred fruit is a worse idea than America’s canned fruit because at least with canned fruit, you don’t have to see how disgusting (and syrupy) it looks.


Now on to Twilight Zone stuff: the cereal aisle. WHAT ARE RICE BUBBLES? WHY DOESN’T THAT SAY RICE KRISPIES?










Phew, ok glad we got out of that topsy-turvey cereal section. The candy section has some interesting, enticing choices, unavailable in America.


And it’s rather shocking that Australians, not Americans, came up with this (unless this does exist in America, in which case I stand corrected.)




Bitters in the soda? You don’t see that in America.


Kewpie mayonnaise (which you probably can get in America, though I’ve never seen it).


Seafood-flavored Cup O’Noodles.


And everyone’s favorite stocking-stuffer…


The dairy section offers up…


Ketchup isn’t ketchup, it’s…


Tuna in America is usually just fish in water or oil; in Australia? It comes with…


Or, gag-inducingly…


Never seen this!


When they say “globes,” are they talking about actual GLOBES?




In the freezer section, entire shelves are stocked with meat pies.



Why doesn’t America have more meat pies? On second thought, America probably doesn’t need any meat pies.

Hey who’s up for beetroot dip? (Oh me, I’ve made that before.) But what is Savion Salad? Does it have anything to do with tap-dancing prodigy Savion Glover?


The mussels here come already cooked.


And that, my friends, concludes our trip to an Australian supermarket. Now who’s up for a bowl of Rice Bubbles?

60 thoughts on “Let’s Go To An Australian Supermarket!”

  1. Bri | eatmeetswest

    Is it weird that when my friends travel to the states, I get emails covering what’s in American supermarkets? Except is usually limited to the ice cream and lollies section, of which they get told to send me one of everything.

  2. those little cans of tuna are one thing i miss the most about living in sydney! i had one with a salad nearly everyday i had to pack a lunch to eat on campus :)

  3. My favourite place to visit in any country is the supermarket, it’s always filled with interesting finds. As an Aussie living overseas (Japan) I had to giggle at the things you noticed, when I visit I’m always surprised at the new products available. I’d imagine there’s Vegemite in almost every house but I can’t say that kangaroo meat is, unless of course it’s for dog food like it was at my place!!! It sounds like you’re having a great time

  4. Whenever I’m in a new place, whether it’s a different country or just a different city here in the USA, I always check out the grocery stores. It’s fun!! By the way, Shaws & Stop & Shop carry Kewpie mayo in the Asian foods section…

  5. I am enjoying all the posts – but this is my favorite! There is no better way to glimpse local culture than a grocery store!! Thanks Adam

  6. Don’t judge tuna-mayo-sweet corn. Sounds gross, I know, but it was HEAVY in my lunch rotation when I used to travel to the UK for work. It’s delish!

  7. Niccola Phillips

    Wow, Adam, that’s my local Coles! We fondly call that shopping centre ‘Murder Mall’ because of its more seedy side. The tinned liver and ox aren’t that typical but I guess tells you about the ethnicity of the local area. Supermarkets here are pretty good at stocking a unique range tailored to the locals. I wish I’d seen you there. Hoping you’re loving Sydney!

    1. Is it the Coles in the shopping mall across from the Unilodge and near Sydney Uni? I used to go there when I was studying at Sydney Uni!

        1. Oh you’re right! It IS the Surry Hills Coles. That was my former local as well. It’s definitely seedy.

          Adam, I’m surprised you didn’t comment on the “tasty” cheese as this is something that overseas friends like to have a chuckle about.

  8. FYI –
    Kewpie Mayo is sold at most Asian Markets in the US
    Most the world seems to call raisins sultanas
    Ground rice is sold as rice flour in the US and its great for tempura
    Arugula means Rocket in Italian
    Milo is kind-of, sort-of like Ovaltine

    Totally love how they call lightbulbs globes.
    And really love that I’m not the only one who loves foreign grocery stores.

  9. In Germany we also have Nesquick cereal and Coco Pops – not that I’ve ever tried either one. But, it’s interesting that Germany seems to have more in common with Australia than with the US, as far as cereal is concerned.

  10. Nissin Cup Noodles in Seafood flavor is a life saver, not to mention utterly delicious. I always, always have at least one in my office drawer.

    Thoroughly enjoying your posts. Cheers mate!

    1. We don’t really have those here in franchise form, sadly. We have the two behemoths, Coles and Woolworths, and then their poor cousin IGA which is smaller and more tailored to the local market, but their fresh food generally sucks. Otherwise you’d be going to a local and very upmarket gourmet grocer.

  11. Great stuff Adam. When I lived in the US and in Canada I was fascinated by the supermarkets and all the subtle differences. They are probably closer to each other now I imagine than 10 or 20 years ago.

  12. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Marmite and Vegemite are pretty much the same thing. You might want to keep it unopened and leave it for the maid.

    1. Outrageous slander! It most certainly is not.

      Adam, for beginners vegemite is best served very lightly scraped on heavily buttered white toast.

  13. Sandy | Hungry Again?

    To-mah-to to-may-to. It’s so entertaining to see you so entertained by our supermarket giant. Now I’m intrigued to see pictures of what supermarket products are like in your side of the world! It was great to see you in person at Eat Drink Blog, you were hilarious.

  14. Yes, as someone said you can get Kewpie mayo at Asian markets. I did not care at all for mayo – yuck – but tried Kewpie when a few chefs said it was one staple they’d not want to be without. Love it! I put it on anything I can.
    Also love your “taking us along” on your trip via these posts!

  15. One of my absolute favorite things to do when I travel is go to the grocery store! Some of my favorite treasures have been found that way. Not just food (Spekuloos in Belgium, and vanilla sugar in France) but oil cloth by the yard (France again) place mats for daily use… I could lose myself for hours in a place like Coles! Thanks for the vicarious trip, Adam.

  16. Monica @ Gastromony

    My, you had more fun in Coles than a group of pensioners on pay day! I learn a lot from supermarkets while abroad too :) Glad you could visit Perth and join us for EDB.

  17. I lovelovelove grocery stores when i travel overseas! I enjoy edible souveniers the most :) the cereal varieties are funny- although i don’t want chocolate at breakfast…. The tuna and beans sounds really good!

  18. I love visiting supermarkets when overseas. It’s one of the best ways of discovering what “little things” differentiate places that are quite similar when it comes to the main stuff. Plus you always get to discover something new and interesting!

  19. CAH // www.thecarboholic.com

    Oh my god, I would have been hoarding boxes of cereal to bring back with me. This post was fascinating. I gagged thrice–the kangaroo (I just can’t get past it–did you try any???), the canned tuna combos, and the pre-cooked mussels. Just doesn’t seem right.

    Headed to Sydney in January and I will be bringing an extra suitcase. That ground rice looks like it could make for some interesting side dishes. Maybe it performs like couscous?

    “Performs,” wtf.

  20. THANK YOU for this. I am Australian living in Canada, having previously lived in France and supermarkets are the most interesting thing to visit when I travel :) LOVED seeing the things that caught your eye. I wonder if after 18 years away and 4 years since my last trip, I’ll notice the same sorts of things when I visit in December ?

  21. THANK YOU for this. I am Australian living in Canada, having previously lived in France and supermarkets are the most interesting thing to visit when I travel :) LOVED seeing the things that caught your eye. I wonder if after 18 years away and 4 years since my last trip, I’ll notice the same sorts of things when I visit in December ?

  22. Thanks for this! My first foreign travel experience many years ago was when I lived in France for a couple of years. I loved it! What a fabulous country! But, after several weeks, I began to crave – peanut butter!!?!! After prowling through every grocery store in Aix en Provence, I finally found a 2-kilo can of it in a specialty foods store. Heaven! Isn’t it interesting what we miss from home?

  23. I love that you visited Coles. Even though EDB13 pretty much reminded us that supermarkets/grocery stores are the devil (paraphrasing here)…

    There’s nothing I love more than visiting local grocery stores when I’m overseas, and my trip last year to New York and Las Vegas yielded so many entertaining supermarket/grocery store visits!

  24. The only thing you missed were the singing toothbrushes (although you might have to go to the “chemist” for those).

  25. For cleanliness, American Supermarkets are tops. Australian Supermarkets don’t compare in any way. Fact; generally Aussies are a disgrace.

  26. Coco Pops aren’t like Cocoa Puffs, they’re like Cocoa Krispies. And why didn’t you ask if Honey Weets was like Honey Smacks?

  27. Actually, Coco Pops is the Australian & British name for Cocoa Krispies although Coco the Monkey, who was on the American box in the 1990s, looks different and has different friends in Australia and Britain. Some if his British friends include Shorty Giraffe, Hefty Hippo and Kylie Kangaroo.

  28. Coco Pops aren’t like Cocoa Puffs, they’re what Cocoa Krispies are called in Australia, Britain, Denmark, Nigeria, Bulgaria, New Zealand, Ireland and more. The monkey on the box is called Coco and he has friends like Hefty Hippo, Shorty Giraffe and Kylie Kangaroo.

    Also, I’m surprised you didn’t ask if Honey Weets were like Honey Smacks

  29. Coco Pops aren’t like Cocoa Puffs, they’re like Cocoa Krispies. Some friends of Coco, the monkey on the package, include Hefty Hippo, Kylie Kangaroo and Shorty Giraffe. I’m surprised you didn’t ask if Honey Weets were like Honey Smacks.

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