RVOD027 Buying Food

(1950, Educational/Short, color)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy

May we also remind you that water is wet and fire is hot.

Rating: ***1/2

In a nutshell:

Apparently, we should only buy food we intent to eat.


A loaf of bread, a quart of milk, and a stick of buddah...After some brief introductory patter from the narrator we meet Henry Slinkman, whose wife sends him to the store with the rather vague instruction to buy “something that looks good.” He purchases three pints of oysters, a pair of large, unidentified root vegetables (I’m guessing they’re rutabagas) and a prepackaged cake. Unfortunately, that many oysters make him ill, and no one in his family likes rutabagas or cake.

After a pair of firm but gentle scoldings from both his wife and the narrator, Henry disappears from the film, presumably to curl into a fetal position and groan until all those oysters finish working their way through his system. Thereafter, the narrator teaches housewives such shopping tricks as:

1) Shopping from a list to avoid going overbudget.
2) Not buying more or less than her family will use.
3) Not buying food her family will refuse to eat.
4) Buying food in the proper quality and state of preservation for her family.
5) Buying fruits and vegetables in season and canning them herself whenever possible.
6) Buying hamburger and hot dogs instead of steak.


Grayer is not always better.Henry’s impulse buying isn’t doing the family budget any favors, but I think the ill-fated meal resultant from his wild spending spree could have been avoided if he’d just heeded his wife’s instruction to buy “something that looks good.” Does anyone’s mouth water at the prospect of oysters, rutabagas and cake? Henry’s purchase of the rutabagas is particularly funny. “I don’t know what this is, so I’ll take two.” Here’s another shopping tip for you housewives out there—like most things, buying food is much, much easier if you’re not a complete and utter moron. Alternative explanation: Henry hates grocery shopping so much that he screwed it up intentionally, hoping his wife will never ask him to do it again. Unfortunately this scenario only makes him look slightly better, as it still ends with a full night of intense gastrointestinal distress and oyster-induced nightmares as the self-inflicted punishment for one shopping trip’s worth of marital rebellion.

Though much of the short is fairly staid and common-sense, Henry’s wildly inadvised trip to the store starts it out on a high note, and the riffers take full advantage. As Henry adds unknown items to his cart just for the hell of it, Bill notes, “Henry will pay for and eat any unidentified lump that’s put in front of him,” and later, “The world is your three pints of oysters.” When the narrator carefully acknowledges that the different grades of food have the same nutritional value, Mike says, “Both will enhance your pastiness,” and then “Grayer is not always better.” Milk is the apparent exception to this rule, leading Kevin to add, “If you’re chewing your milk more than three times, throw it out.” By itself, the short shakes off its initial Henry-related strangeness to make some valid but rather obvious points about how to buy food. Thankfully, Mike, Kevin and Bill manage to keep up the same level of mockery all the way through for a consistently funny short.