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Supermarket Sweep
Genre Game show
Created by Al Howard
Directed by Lloyd Gross (1965-1967)
Peter Molnár (1965-1967)
Chris Darley (1990-1995; 2000-2003)
Presented by Bill Malone (1965-1967)
David Ruprecht (1990-1995; 2000-2003)
Narrated by Wally King (1965-1966)
Richard Hayes (1966-1967)
Johnny Gilbert (1990-1995; Apr-Sep 2000)
Randy West (Sep 2000-2003)
Theme music composer Christopher Rhyne
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 10
No. of episodes 1,000+
Executive producer(s) Leonard Stern (1965-1967)
Al Howard (1990-1995; 2000-2003)
Location(s) Food Fair (1965-1967)
Hollywood Center Studios (1990-1995; 2000-2001)
NBC Studios (2001-2003)
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Talent Associates (1965-1967)
Al Howard Productions (1990-1995; 2000-2003)
Original channel ABC (1965-1967)
Lifetime (1990-1995)
PAX (2000-2003)
Original run December 20, 1965 (1965-12-20) – May 23, 2003 (2003-05-23)
Related shows Dale's Supermarket Sweep

Supermarket Sweep is an American television game show. Part of the format was similar to other team-based quiz shows; the other part was a live-action race through a supermarket, a novel concept at the time. In the timed race, cameras followed the teams with shopping carts through a large vacated supermarket with several aisles; the value of items thrown into the cart determined the winning team. The original show was broadcast on ABC (1965-1967), with revivals airing on Lifetime (1990-1995, reran until 1998) and later PAX (2000-2003, reran until 2004).

ABC's Supermarket Sweep was broadcast from Food Fair supermarkets, mostly around New York City. For the Lifetime version, a mock supermarket was created at Hollywood Center Studios.[1] It was modeled after a Hughes Market until September 1993, when it was remodeled again after a Unified Western Market. The PAX version was staged in the same set and studio as the Lifetime version. Beginning in September 2001, the show moved to NBC Studios.

The host for the 1965-1967 ABC version was Bill Malone. The announcers were Wally King from 1965-1966, and Richard Hayes from 1966-1967, with Johnny Olson and Gene Wood as frequent substitutes during those years. The host for the 1990-1995 Lifetime version and the 2000-2003 PAX version was David Ruprecht. The announcers were Johnny Gilbert from 1990-1995 and again from April-September 2000, then Randy West for the rest of the show's run.


Broadcast history

Supermarket Sweep originated on ABC and aired from December 20, 1965 to July 14, 1967. The show was revived by Lifetime on February 5, 1990, and ran until May 26, 1995, with reruns airing until August 14, 1998. It was revived again by PAX on April 3, 2000, and continued there until May 23, 2003, with reruns airing until March 26, 2004. PAX reaired the episodes from the final Lifetime season (1994-1995) from April 5, 1999 to March 31, 2000.

Gameplay (ABC)

Two teams, usually married couples, competed. Each team began with a base time of one minute. In the first part of the game, the teams were shown a grocery item and were asked to guess its retail price. The team who came the closest won the item and an additional 10 seconds to their time. Six items were played.

In the second part of the game, one contestant from each team went on a shopping spree through the market, using the time accumulated in the first half of the game; two contestants ran the sweeps separately. After each contestant ran their sweep, the total value of groceries in each player's cart was determined. The team with the highest total won the right to return to the show and play in the next game. Both teams kept the groceries they picked up.

Gameplay (Lifetime/PAX)

The gameplay of the Lifetime/PAX version of Supermarket Sweep consisted of three segments: the question round, the Big Sweep, and the Bonus Sweep. The game was played between three teams of two related individuals, such as a parent and child, spouses, siblings, or best friends. In the last two rounds, the team members wore sweatshirts of the same color. The show gave the appearance that pairs were chosen to be contestants based on who in the audience (or in the show's last two seasons, the market) held pre-distributed grocery items that the announcer called for at the beginning of the show.


Question round

At the beginning of the game, all three teams started with a base time of 1:30. The questions answered correctly added time to their clocks. The round was divided into three segments; in the first two segments, one teammate from each team answered a variety of questions and/or played one of several games that involved pricing everyday grocery items, with the teammates switching between segments. The third segment was the Round Robin game, in which the teammates rotated after each question.

Question types

Players were asked a series of questions, usually with a specific brand of grocery items as answers; each question was worth 10 seconds. In each round, the questions followed a specific format, which varied between rounds and shows. The formats used on the show included:

  • Guessing which item a series of interesting facts described.
  • Guessing which item went with a particular slogan or jingle.
  • Determining the brand name of a product, the picture of which had the brand name edited out.
  • Selecting one or more answers to a series of questions from a bank of five or six possible choices.
  • Filling in blanks to reveal a product's name; contestants were either given clues and/or letters that were progressively added (either randomly or spelled backwards).
  • This or That – Selecting the correct answer earned 10 seconds; selecting the wrong one gave the other two teams 10 seconds each. A similar variation used was called "Fact or Not a Fact", which determined whether a statement about a product is true or false.
  • Animal Sounds – Given 3 to 5 animals (cow, sheep, pig, chicken, and/or fish) as the answer choices, for which contestants must make the correct animal's sound.
  • Twisted – Guessing a product's name from synonyms and/or antonyms that replaced each word. For example, "Cow's Ear" is a clue for Bull's-Eye Barbecue Sauce.
  • County Fair – Tested the players' sense of knowledge of a particular gadget.
  • Supermarket Trivia – Trivia questions were asked about items sold in the supermarket.
  • Checkstand Headlines – Facts about a famous event that were read about in checkstand tabloids were given to the players, and the players were to guess what the fact referred to.

Pricing games

The Supermarket Sweep logo from February 5, 1990 to May 28, 1993.

During each segment, different games were played involving everyday groceries. These games varied from day to day and generally involved the following objectives:

  • Selecting which of three items was priced above or below a certain amount, was not a given price, was on sale, was incorrectly priced, was correctly priced, or was the most expensive.
  • Determining how much of one item could be bought for a certain amount of money.
  • Guessing whether the actual price for a product was higher or lower than the price displayed. A variation also included the possibility of the shown price being correct.

If a player was correct, the team earned 10 seconds; however, if all three players were right, 20 seconds (30 in the "On Sale" game, and for all games since late 1992) was added to all three teams' times.

Special games

  • 30-Second Shootout – At the beginning of the second segment of the question round, both contestants on a team played an individual game, which banked the team 30 seconds of Sweep time. Each team took turns by playing the game individually. The format usually consisted of a contestant guessing a series of 6-letter (originally 5) words using the clues given by his or her partner (similar to The $25,000 Pyramid and Password). The first letter of each correct answer was a letter in the name of a brand name or item from the market, which the guesser then had to determine to earn the Sweep time. Each of the teams had 30 seconds to achieve this (40 in the final Lifetime season), and if a word was accidentally blurted out by the clue-giver, the team was disqualified automatically. An additional rule was that once a clue was used on one of the words in the list, it was not to be used again (doing so would lead to disqualification of that team). On some episodes, an alternative format was used with a picture of a product shown. Each clue changed the product's picture.
  • Snack Attack Movie Game – Three 10-second questions about movies were asked. The player who answered the last of the three questions correctly earned the right to take a taste test of a food item in the market; correctly identifying the item earned that team a $50 bonus for the Big Sweep. If the contestant guessed right on a second chance (multiple choice at that point, and consisting of three choices), that team earned $25. Originally, the question related to the item only had two choices and only the correct choice would earn the $50 bonus.

Round Robin

For the final segment, the teammates switched after each question. The contestants were shown the scrambled letters of a brand name, common food, or item, and three clues were given for 10 seconds each. If no one buzzed in and then answered correctly after the last clue was given, all three clues were repeated quickly. On some episodes, an alternative format was used with five clues given and no scrambled name. The Round Robin originally consisted of four questions, but was lengthened to six in 1992.


Beginning in September 1990, a Mini-Sweep was played at the beginning of the first round. A toss-up question (usually a rhyming couplet) was asked with a particular product as the answer. The team that correctly answered the question earned ten seconds, as well as a chance for one team member to run into the market to retrieve the product, which was marked with the show's logo. If the product was returned within 30 seconds, the team won $50 towards their Sweep total. If the team member returned with the correct product, but it didn't contain the sticker featuring the Supermarket Sweep symbol on it, no bonus was awarded.

A year after its debut, the bonus was doubled to $100 if the product was brought back within 20 seconds. After 3 seasons, a second Mini-Sweep was added at the beginning of the second round and was later used only during special weeks on the PAX version.

Big Sweep

The "Big Sweep" was the chance for the teams to run throughout the aisles and to grab whatever they could off of the supermarket shelves. The clock was set to the highest time that was earned by the three teams. The runner for that team was sent out into the market, with the other runners entering when their time had remained on the clock. During the Big Sweep, the show's announcer provided the "play-by-play."

The runner could bring their cart back to the team's register at any time, at which point it was exchanged for an empty cart. Any items in the runner's cart when the bell rang were included in their total.

The three main rules for the Big Sweep were:

  • The teams could only take up to five of each item.
  • Any items dropped and/or upset had to be returned to the shelf or in one's cart, or incur a $25-per-item penalty. Teams were also penalized for running into supermarket displays, cameramen or any other personnel.
  • Only one member of each team could be in the store at a time; the other team member was required to remain at the checkout counter to unload the groceries.

The product limit, which was absent in the original ABC version of the show, was added to prevent a team from overloading their carts with expensive items, such as poultry, laundry detergent, or over-the-counter drugs.

In most episodes of the show's first season on Lifetime (February-May 1990), costumed characters such as Frankenstein's Monster, a gorilla, or a creature named Mr. Yuck ran through the aisles during the Sweep. If the character came near a contestant or vice versa, the contestant had to turn around and go in the other direction. The characters were dropped in 1991.

Once time was called, all products were scanned while the show took a final commercial break. Afterward, the grand totals of each team's takes were revealed. The team with the highest grand total, including bonuses from the question round, won their Sweep total in cash and the right to play in the Bonus Sweep. The other teams received parting gifts. In early episodes of the first season, the totals included cents. In later episodes, and for the rest of the series, the totals were rounded off to the nearest dollar.


Many bonuses were available during the Big Sweep at different times during the show's run. Each contestant was only able to take one of each bonus type. With the exception of the Bonus Specials shown below, all items picked up by the runner had to be in the shopping cart (and properly bagged/sealed, if necessary) or over the red checkout line before time ran out in order to count. Some of these included:

  • Bonus Specials (Value: $50–$200, later up to $250) – The only bonus feature to appear in every episode. Three jumbo-sized stuffed animals, giant, inflated balloons of products, or cardboard promotional signs for products with bonus tags attached to them were scattered throughout the market. In order for the bonus to count, the runner had to bring the item over the red line painted on the floor around the checkouts (without destroying the item or the tag) before the time expired. A runner was allowed to steal an opposing team's item if it was left unprotected before getting it to the checkouts.
These over-sized products and/or signs were worth $50, $100, or $200. In September 1993, a fourth bonus worth $250 (dubbed the "Super Bonus") was added to the market. During the Twin Car Giveaway Tournament, a $300 bonus (dubbed the "Super Super Bonus") was added, replacing the $50 bonus. In all cases, only one bonus was allowed to a customer.
  • Coffee (Value: $100, later $200) – Runners were required to grind a bag of Millstone Coffee or Maxwell House coffee.
  • Candy (Value: $100, later $200) – Runners were required to bag and weigh a dollar's worth of Brach's Candy, give or take two cents.
  • Shopping List (Value: $250, later $300 for the Alphabet Game) – Before the Sweep, David gave a list of three products (originally four) in the market to be found. The Alphabet Game was played the same way, but with David mentioning three consecutive letters of the alphabet as well as the products beginning with those letters (the products had to be placed into a mini-basket that was located in the front of the cart to count, and only one of each item; multiple mini-baskets could be used if needed). Other variations included the following:
    • Magazine Display – Picking up three (or four) magazines that were listed by David, from the many titles to choose from.
    • Jelly Belly Machine – Bagging three flavors of Jelly Belly jelly beans that David wanted from the many flavors that were available.
    • International Bread Center – Bagging certain quantities of three bread types that were listed by David, from the many bread types on display.
    • Fruit Fantasy – Putting certain quantities of lemons, apples, oranges, and grapefruits into a fruit basket, to be picked up in the market's produce section.
    • Breakfast Break – Getting five breakfast items that David asked for with the help of their partners; this was later changed to two breakfast items and then dropped completely.
    • Cake – Designing a cake and writing the show's name and the team's number on the top.
    • Frozen Yogurt Machine – Dispensing three flavors of frozen yogurt into a plastic cup, from the following four flavors: Triple Fudge Chocolate, Vanilla Bean Dream, Sweet Peachy Peach, and Berry Berry Raspberry.
  • Mystery Product (Value: $250, $300 if a movie) – Runners tried to find a product using the clues displayed on three television monitors in the market. This bonus was later changed to the use of two television monitors from April 2000-May 2003. Another variation included "Splitting the Name", with one half of a product's name on each of the two monitors.
    • For the "$300 Movie", midway through the Sweep, David announced "Activate the TV monitors", at which point the television monitors came into play.
  • Manager's Special or Red Tag Special (Value: $200) – During the Sweep, Ruprecht announced the "Manager's Special" or the "Red Tag Special" of the day via the market's loudspeaker. The contestant had to run to a red-and-white barrel at the front of the market or a shopping cart at the back of the market that was filled with products and find the specially marked item (marked with a red star or a red X for the Manager's Special, a red tag for the Red Tag Special). An unmarked item awarded no bonus to the team, even if it was the correct product.
  • Stack Job or Recycle Machine (Value: $100, later $150 for the Stack Job) – Runners had to find one of three bags filled with empty soda cans that were spread throughout the market and return the bag to their partner. Their partner then had to go to their table and, using all 21 cans, stack the empty soda cans in the shape of a pyramid as shown before the Sweep began. Getting the "Stack Job" done awarded the team a token good for the bonus.
    • For the "Recycle Machine" the partner had to go to the recycling machine and recycle all 10 cans into the machine, one at a time, after which the machine issued a $100 receipt.
  • Super Sandwich (Value: $200) – Three tables were placed at one side of the market, each set up with the ingredients for a submarine sandwich: roll, meats, cheeses, lettuce, condiments, etc. Each runner could go to one of the tables and use all the items on it to build the sandwich, then wrap it in aluminum foil and seal it in a bag with a twist-tie.
  • Sweep Swipe or Market Madness (Value: $200–$250) – A limited supply of items (two cases of candy, five boxes of detergent, etc.) were placed in front of three tables or three stationary shopping carts, one for each of the three teams. Runners moved the items (from the floor or from another team's table or cart), one at a time, onto their own table or their cart. For each item in one's possession at the end of the bell, the team received a bonus (either $50 or $100 per item).
  • Cracker Jackpot! or Jolly Time Is Money! (Value: $100, later $150 for Jolly Time is Money!; $200 for the Cracker Jackpot) – Runners tore open boxes of Cracker Jack or emptied bags of Jolly Time Popcorn in order to find a token with the show's shopping cart logo on it.
  • Bonus Envelope (Value: $200) – Halfway through the Sweep, the host announced a clue to a specific product. After hearing the clue, the partners at the checkout counter ran into the market to find their teammates and give them the clue. If the teammate points out the item to their partner, the money was lost. Runners had to find the product and take the bonus envelope that was located next to it. A variation was played with movie titles at the video stand.
  • Giant Box of Laundry Detergent (Value: $25–$100)  – A giant box of laundry detergent (Gain or Cheer) was located at the back of the store with four colored envelopes on it. The runner picked one of the envelopes and the money was added to the team's total.
  • Balloon Pop (Value: $150)  – Three shopping carts or large garbage bags filled with balloons were located in one of the back corners of the supermarket. Runners brought back one of the carts or bags to the checkouts for their partners to pop. Their partners had to pop all of the balloons before the time had expired.
  • Instant Coupon Machines  – A contestant won bonus money by getting a coupon and locating the associated product on a supermarket shelf nearby.
  • Double and Triple Coupons  – Certain items had double-value or triple-value coupons located on or near the actual item that multiplied its value accordingly.

Bonus Sweep

The winning team was given 60 seconds to find three products in the market. They were given a clue to the first product, after which the time started. The second clue was affixed to the first product, and the third clue was on the second product. If the team found the third product, they won $5,000. The winning team had to find all three products and return with them to win the money. If they found the final product before one of the other products, originally the team would automatically lose, but after the first 2 seasons, the team that found the $5,000 too soon were just reminded to find all three products, then return to find the money. If the team was unsuccessful, the team still won $200 for each product found. The team had to have their hands on the money before the bell signaled the end of the 60 seconds.

Clues had several formats in the series. Some clues were two-line rhymes describing the product, with its brand name as the final missing word in the rhyme. Other clues used a play-on words of the product's title. On occasion, clues lead to a movie in the movie rack, a fruit or a vegetable in the produce section, a flower in a special kiosk located at the front of the market that was used only during the Bonus Sweep, or a greeting card near the magazine rack.


During both runs of the show, special tournaments were held periodically, as well as other individual shows in which former teams were invited back for a chance to win more money or a trip.

Twin Car Giveaway

From September 5-30, 1994, at the beginning of the show's final season on Lifetime, a month-long Twin Car Giveaway tournament was held. During the first three weeks of the tournament, a standard game was played each day. The twelve teams with the highest Big Sweep totals from these episodes at the end of the third week returned for the fourth and final week, in which games were played with no Bonus Sweep. The six teams with the highest Big Sweep totals during that final week returned for the Friday show to play for a pair of Geo Trackers. On the Friday show, the first three teams played an eight-question Round Robin game, where each correct answer was worth $50 towards their Sweep total. Each of the first three teams then had a flat three minutes in the Big Sweep. This process was repeated for the other three teams. At the end of the show, the team with the highest Big Sweep total won the two cars (a combined value of more than $25,000) in addition to whatever else that they won on their previous shows. All other teams kept their prior winnings. Team #1, James and Rick, won with a Big Sweep total of $1,598, and won a grand total of $28,710 (the highest grand total ever). A total of $84,562 in cash and prizes was won by the contestants over the four week period.

Other tournaments and specials

Occasionally, former teams were invited back to play for additional money or a trip. These consisted largely of "Sweeps of Champions", which gave previous winners a chance to go on another Bonus Sweep for the opportunity to play and get a second chance at $5,000. On a few early "Sweep of Champions" episodes, former players were invited back for a chance to double their money to $10,000. Others include -

  • "Gourmet Week": Allowed the teams to play for a trip to France.
  • "Second Chance": Allowed previous winners who won their Big Sweep, but missed the $5,000 to come back for a second chance on Friday to go for that amount.
  • "You Can't Lose!": Like the Second Chance episodes, but no Bonus Sweep was played during this week. In these episodes, one team was guaranteed to win $5,000 after they lost on their first appearance.
  • "Double Your Money Week": Similar to the few early "Sweeps of Champions" episodes from the Lifetime version, except in the PAX version the winning team with the highest Super Big Sweep total at the end on the final day didn't have to run around the market looking for another $5,000 as in early "Sweeps of Champions" episodes – they automatically doubled their money to $10,000.
  • "Mother-Daughter Week": Featured on the Lifetime run with mother-daughter teams competing, sometimes with children under the age of 18.
  • "Family Week": Similar to the Mother-Daughter Week in the Lifetime version (only with various family members), the Family Week in the PAX version had relative teams to win $5,000 at the end of the week. No Bonus Sweep was played in that week.
  • "Cruise to Paradise": Invited back 12 former teams who lost their Big Sweep to play for a 7-day Carnival Cruise for two (and two guests) to the Mexican Riviera. No Bonus Sweep was played at the end of that week.
  • "Cruise Week": Similar to the "Cruise to Paradise" week, except no Bonus Sweep was played throughout the entire week.
  • "Tournament of Heroes": Troop teams were to win the $5,000 at the end of the week. No Bonus Sweep was played in this week.

International versions


A syndicated Canadian version, later aired on the Global Television Network, was produced from 1992-1995 and is currently airing on GameTV in Canada. Tino Monté was the, according to the opening, "host and games master extraordinaire" and Dave King was announcer. The supermarket in this version was much smaller than in America and did not contain the specialty racks such as videos, cards, or flowers. The only exceptions were the Voortman cookie hut, a (rarely used) produce section and a display of Nabob coffee located right behind host Monté. The question rounds each began with a Mini-Sweep which, if won, added $50 to a team's total. On at least two occasions (when the item being searched for was a health food) a gift certificate worth $75 from Naturally Yours Health foods was also awarded for a win.

Each team started with a base time of 1:00 and for the Big Sweep, only the Shopping List bonus was used in every episode. The Manager's Special (using a wooden crate rather than a red-and-white barrel) was also sometimes used. While the five-per-item rule appeared to be in play (contestants would frequently take five of most items), the announcer rarely mentioned either the rules of the Sweep, or the value of the products. Similar to the "bonus specials" used on the American version, occasionally the market had three inflatable cheeses (referred to as "inflatables" on-air) with a bonus hidden behind a label of either $50, $75, or $100. Although rarely mentioned, teams were allowed only one each of these.

Originally, the bonus round had the winners looking for $5,000, as with the American show, but later on the winning team chose a scroll representing one of the letters in the show's title, containing a cash amount of $500, $1,000, or $5,000, or a prize such as a Doncaster recliner, two Bulova watches, Mini Maid service for a year, a VCR, a 32" television, or a trip to Acapulco, Mexico, or Cuba (which has never been a prize on an American game show due to the boycott), and whatever was on the scroll was the prize to be played for. If a team lost the bonus round, they won a consolation prize of a coffee percolator and a year's supply of Nabob coffee.

At this time, it is unknown what the Canadian version's set was modeled after.

United Kingdom

Dale's Supermarket Sweep aired on ITV from 1992-2001 during the day with Dale Winton as host and Bobby Bragg as announcer; it was produced by FremantleMedia for Carlton.

The show was revived in 2007 and filmed 60 episodes at the Maidstone Studios, this time produced by Talkback Thames. The rules were the same as America and Canada, except thet the winning team looked for £2,000.

The original run was taped at Central's Lenton Lane studios in Nottingham, and the setup was a little different from America. The new version has a slightly different set from the original, and it has a new theme tune. The grand prize has also been upped to £5,000. British Fun House announcer Gary King replaced Bobby Bragg as announcer.

As in Canada, teams started with 1:00. As with America and Canada, each show started with a Mini-Sweep worth £25 to the sub-total.

Unlike other versions, teams could grab no more than three of one item, as opposed to five. As with America and Canada, the "Shopping List" was also used frequently. The Manager's Special (renamed "Dale's Sale") was also used on some occasions. Brand names were rarely, if ever, mentioned on this version. Also, the UK version did have some games of their own, including "Pricing Gun", where teams could earn £50 by pricing up to 12 coffee pots. The bonuses only went from £25 to £100 on this version.

The original set was transformed to look like a Co-op, ASDA, or Somerfield market, depending on the season. The current set resembles an ASDA market, due to ASDA sponsoring the show. Like the American set, this did have racks of videos and flowers, etc. that the Canadian version lacked.


An Australian version was produced by Grundy, airing on the Nine Network from 1992-1994 with former Price Is Right host Ian Turpie as emcee, assisted by Tania Zaetta. Col Mooney and Alan Glover served as announcers.

The supermarket on this show was originally a Coles Supermarket, but was later changed to a generic supermarket. Like America, the winners searched for $5,000. The later set was identical to the American show, as was the case with most Grundy-produced Australian games based on American programs.


Supermarket had two versions – the first was produced by Band from 1990-1993. The revival, produced by Record during the 2000s, was in fact part of the TV show Note e Anote. Both versions were hosted by Ricardo Corte Real.


Supermercado ("Supermarket") aired during the 1990s on commercial television station Antena 3 with Enrique Simon as host. The rules were identical to America, except that the currency used was the now-defunct Peseta. The series aired every midday at around 1:25 PM. Considering the 100-to-1 exchange rate between the peseta and dollar, it is probable that Pts 500,000 was the grand prize.

Episode status

All but seven episodes of the ABC version have been wiped. The Lifetime/PAX version remains fully intact. The Canadian version of Supermarket Sweep airs in reruns on GameTV.


External links


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