What shopping was like in the Soviet Union circa 1986, Your supermarket is a miracle. (Video)

Yeah, food poisoning was probably a pretty regular occurrence under the Soviet system.

Yeah, food poisoning was probably a pretty regular occurrence under the Soviet system.

 

It’s valuable to remember what economies look like without real prices and the free flow of information, services, and goods.

I know a retired military officer who once told me that as relations between the Soviet Union and the United States thawed in the late 80s the base at which this officer was stationed hosted a group of senior Soviet military commanders.

The Americans gave the Soviets a tour of the base and they examined the jets, hangers, and the rest. But the thing which absolutely amazed the generals was the commissary, where they saw not only officers shopping, but enlisted people too. They were astounded at the quality and variety of goods and accused the American staff of staging the store for their visit. The generals could not imagine that such bounty was readily available to so many. Our enlisted people right out of high school ate better than they did.

216 comments
Ronald McClain
Ronald McClain

I had a foreign exchange student in the late 90s , she almost passed out when my wife took her to the grocery store. Just having more than 2 types of coffee was enough to have her almost pass out. People here really have no idea how lucky they are and how soon it can disappear. OBOZO is sure giving it s good try to burn it all down. One can only hope if he does he's the first casualty.

Jana Ferrer
Jana Ferrer

This is where we're headed under the current regime

Michael Shreve
Michael Shreve

What it will be like worldwide twenty years from now.

Evan Williams
Evan Williams

The supermarket is not a miracle. It could be even better with less government.

Stephen Perkins
Stephen Perkins

Google "quality of life index" and then take your pick of any of them. I dare you.

Jeff McKnight
Jeff McKnight

When I read posts without any credible evidence of fact, I cringe a little. Every person should research the subject they're posting to avoid misinforming their readers unless, of course, that's their intent.

John Sposato
John Sposato

Let us hope that it is never to be as you say.

John Sposato
John Sposato

By the way, I'm not sure when a belief in market capitalism became extremist. Perhaps it would be so for someone who believed in NO government regulation. That is not my position. My position is that government regulation should go only so far as to ensure fair competition and protect public interest. Period.

John Sposato
John Sposato

Ken Doucette, an opinion I almost totally disagree with, but calmly and rationally stated. Would that all of our national debates were so. Good Saturday to you, Sir.

Edward Hale
Edward Hale

Big GMO chain super markets with stratigicly limited inventory designed to get you to spend more for cornsyrup and enriched flour rubbish , planned to get you to pay more for crap by comparing choice between 3 overpriced limited choices, I want the awesome freedom and community I trust at our local coop store where we the shoppers are owners

Stephen Perkins
Stephen Perkins

Iceland is doing quite well since they put their bankers in jail. OUR healthcare system is unaffordable. Look up any index you want concerning peoples real quality of life. Say what you will, these countries are always on top. We are most definitely not #1 anymore. Just saying so doesn't make it so.

YevgeniyPopov
YevgeniyPopov

This all depends on where you live in Russia. Some places deep in Russia do have food problems, but European part has anything you want in supermarkets. I was born there in 85. Yes, i still remember the lines to get food and people fighting, but most of what i remember was close to the end or post soviet era. However, when i ask my parents, they always seem to like the 80s. As far as now goes, there are plenty of supermarkets, malls, and all sorts of the same things that there are here in the US. I've been here for over 15 years, served 5 years in the US, ARMY. Believe me when i say when i was over in Afghanistan in 09, we barely had anything to eat. Only on big F.O.B.s there were plenty of food. Thats the soldiers life........ On another note, in the last15+ years I've watched our U.S. economy getting worse and worse. I remember living in NYC in 2000 and its was great....it felt like i really lived in the Great Country of U.S. of A. Now i don't have that feeling anymore. Now it's more like" hey, lets occupy everyone with TV, Internet and sports, give them plenty to eat, and most of them not going to pay attention to what is really going on in the country, like enormous growing debt etc." Its not the system that the country chose to run with, it is how that system being taken care of to give people freedom and ensure the future is bright on the horizon. Which by the way as of now, i only see dark clouds on that horizon and hoping for it to turn to sunlight..........so thats my picture of the world. For sure i have a thousand more concerns, but if i talk about every single one of them, i might as well write a book. Still i am hopeful that things will get better, after all i consider myself an American.

Thomas Hamer
Thomas Hamer

Norway has lots of income from North Sea oil to help pay for their programs and even there they are cutting back on the wellfare state Iceland was nearly bankrupted by it's no-bankers banking system, Sweden is cutting back on it's healthcare progams as unaffordable, as are Finnland and Denmark. Sorry to bust your socialist dream bubble with facts.

Stuart Broadley
Stuart Broadley

I worked in the Soviet Union in the 70s. Shelves always 80% empty.

Ken Doucette
Ken Doucette

Like the Federal Reserve John Sposato? Seems to me the commons should be ruled by the commons. Only way to keep private interests from taking advantage of the masses. The discussion about how to keep a few from taking advantage is a separate one altogether.Democratic Socialism is most assuredly where we should be headed as the means of production marches inevitably to more and more mechanization with fewer human inputs needed. Yes we can talk about new jobs being created as a result, but history shows there are always fewer than there were and with even more specialization. Frankly there just won't be enough jobs for people to do for any semblance of the current system to work and as has already been pointed out we are not really capitalists now with the privatization of profits and the socialization of losses. It is always about balance. Extreme-ism in most any form I can think of is a bad thing. By the way, it is good to see some of us having some true discourse here as we are passionate about our beliefs. Enjoy your Saturday everyone.

Jeff Siewert
Jeff Siewert

Makes you wonder why so many in the U.S. are embracing the Socialist..

Dylan Kemp
Dylan Kemp

That's what will happen if Bernie slams his fists on his desk and demands too much from businesses

Matt Spradlin
Matt Spradlin

This seems like a fair comparison. We're definitely going to turn out like this if we make those poor rich people pay higher taxes

Dylan Kemp
Dylan Kemp

Hey Matt look! The future you want!

Stephen Perkins
Stephen Perkins

No I'm not. I look at the studies done each year about the best places in the world to live. They always come out on top and still are. As for "socialism", free education, old age pensions and the like are no more than what Tom Paine argued for. But then he was a founding father and so much of their thought has been set aside in todays America. Look up the Economist's Quality of life index, or US News and World Reports best places to live or the world happiness index or just about anything. They all list the Scandinavian countries at the top and the northern European countries close by.

Wayne Gage
Wayne Gage

Very wrong. It is your choice to eat healthy or unhealthy.

Wayne Gage
Wayne Gage

You are sadly misinformed. The Scandinavian countries are having a very difficult time maintaining their socialism and in addition...nothing is free.

Kurt Mellendorf
Kurt Mellendorf

need to show this in schools and including the commie collages who preach socilism is better, to remind people, it is worse in north korea

Kevin Lipps
Kevin Lipps

I thought communism was "revolutionary," well at least to socialist and Marxist it is. Socialism applied to its real form is basically communism, although most socialist will not say so, because it gives away the real nature of their economic model.

Lee Henderson
Lee Henderson

I found an app on google called Buycott. Helps find healthy foods from companies that CARE about health. Vote with your wallet. Pass it on.

Terence Rucker
Terence Rucker

I remember that when Belenko defected with the Mig-25. They would take him to a supermarket near the safehouse where they were debriefing him. He would not believe that the supermarket wasn't just for elites. They told him that they would take him to a supermarket in any city of his choice. He looked at a map and picked Kansas City. They immediately flew him there and drove him to a SafeWay. He later wrote that he was completely stunned and that was the moment when he realized that all the rumors about the west were true.

Robert Rux
Robert Rux

This is what is happening to Venezuela.

Larry A. Roth
Larry A. Roth

What we can expect if another anti-American communist gets elected POTUS.

Anti_Newspeak
Anti_Newspeak

Except the oligarchs in the party at the Kremlin lived and ate like Kings unlike the poor proletariat's.


All animals are equal......but some some animals are more equal than others

Allan Elliott
Allan Elliott

Except the oligarchs in the party at the Kremlin lived and ate like Kings unlike the poor proletariat's. All animals are equal......but some some animals are more equal than others.

Thomas Hamer
Thomas Hamer

Even East Germany was better than the Soviet Union. Soviet Army officers would go shopping in the German stores when I visited the old DDR in 1973. They were flabergasted at what you could buy in them compared to the Russian stores. Then when they found out what you could buy in those stores with US dollars or West German marks. they were outraged. One Col. asked what he could buy with rubles and the Germans just laughed.

Dwane Walton
Dwane Walton

Yep they weren't a whole lot better still in '95 when we were trying to open an American style supermarket in Vladivostok.

Nancy Kogok
Nancy Kogok

An old woman was brought into my store she stood in the produce department and was crying loudly. I came out to find out what was wrong. They said it was her first day in the USA, in Russia they only had cabbages and potatoes on the shelves. I gave her a large hug!

John Sposato
John Sposato

It means they don't want anyone messing with the potatoes they make their vodka from.

Curley Frazier
Curley Frazier

A Russian Immigrant I worked with was saying how happy he is to be here in America. I asked him what was better about the US. He said, "Everything!" This example was only a small part of what he meant.

fgbouman
fgbouman

The same tour given to soldiers from any number of capitalist countries up until about that time would have elicited similar comments.  What all of the countries had in common, including the Soviet Union and China, is that everything existed solely for the support of the ruling elite and virtually nothing made it into the hands of the middle and lower classes. What the countries had in common were a powerful oligarchy and a leader with near-dictatorial powers.  This is exactly what the U.S. has been building toward since 1980, pretending that it is being guided by free-market capitalism.

Libertarians have, unfortunately, been unable to provide any useful input because of their absolutist view of the economy.  If there's anything we know about the real world it is that it is one of shades of gray, not blacks and whites, contrary to what Ayn Rand wants her acolytes to believe.

Opperdienaar
Opperdienaar

There are shades of nonsense. The freedom in the us was much higher than that in China and the surrounding at that time. Now the ruling elite in the usa also has the masses dumbed down to get totalitarian rule and the economy will perform similarly. To blame tha on Ayn Rand who was fervently opposed to a ruling elite of parasites, shows a fair degree of ignorance.

Don Farren
Don Farren

Yet "Russia" has banned GMO's .. What does THAT say?

Wayne Gage
Wayne Gage

Democratic socialism will take us there.