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5 things: A side of Oreos with your poison bread sandwich?

Here’s 5 things you may have missed in grocery

All kinds of wrong: A New Zealand supermarket experimenting with AI-generated meal plans has seen its app produce some of the most lethal, terrible dishes known to man – including recipes for deadly chlorine gas, “poison bread sandwiches,” and mosquito-repellent roast potatoes. (Not to mention the perhaps delightful “oreo vegetable stir-fry.”) The app, created by supermarket chain Pak ‘n’ Save, was advertised as a way for customers to creatively use up leftovers. One recipe it dubbed “aromatic water mix” would create chlorine gas. The bot recommends the recipe as “the perfect nonalcoholic beverage to quench your thirst and refresh your senses.”

Try, try, try, try, try again: Germany-based discount chain Lidl has revamped its top leadership in the U.S. for the fifth time in eight years, naming Joel Rampoldt president and CEO, effective next month, according to a Forbes report. He succeeds Michal Lagunionek, who had assumed the position in June of 2021 and is reportedly heading back to Lidl in Europe. There have been signs of trouble since the chain first ventured onto U.S. soil in 2017. Some reports attributed Lidl’s problems to the size of its stores in the U.S. — 20,000 square feet, vs. 10,000 in Europe — and others to their locations. Last month, the company reportedly shuttered at least 11 of its U.S. stores as it looks to tweak its strategy yet again. Rampoldt, meanwhile, takes the helm with exactly zero retailers on his resume — he most recently was with consulting firm AlixPartners, and previously had been with KPMG and Oliver Wyman. All I can say is, don’t get too comfortable in that corner office. —Mark Hamstra

Hot cake: It’s 109 degrees outside, so let them eat cake. Heat waves in the U.S. this summer have been historical, and an H-E-B in Hutto, Texas, thought an apology was in order. Even though the supermarket was not to blame for the blistering temperatures, it still created a cake in an attempt to make it up to shoppers. How could you not accept this apology? The two-layer round cake came with frosting that read: “I’m sorry for what I said when it was 109 outside.” The words were surrounded by suns. A shopper posted the video on TikTok and of course it went viral. Emily Cormier Hinds was looking for a birthday cake for one of her children when she came upon the frosting-filled apology. “They have the most adorable little ‘Decorator’s Showcase’ and this little gem was on display,” she posted on TikTok. But the question is: Why does it have to get up to 109 degrees to find a reason to buy cake? —Bill Wilson

Deter theft? Play classical: Theft has been an issue for retailers across the company — the solution at one Chicago Walgreens? Blast the Bach. That’s right: Walgreens has decided that playing classical music outside certain Chicago stores will ward off the loiterers and panhandlers. And they’re not alone either. Other major retailers have previously leaned into the tactic. Customer reaction? It’s been mixed. One frequent shopper, Carole Hennessy, said, “I find it a little overbearing,” adding: “if it were up to me, I just might prefer Springsteen.” But can The Boss do an equal job of fighting crime? There’s only one way to find out…—CR  

She’s a special slice: You haven’t lived until you have worked at Walgreens for most of your life. Melba Russell can attest to that. The 88-year-old recently retired following a 67-year stint with the Northbrook-based pharmacist, and now carries the title of the longest serving employee in Walgreens history. Russell, herself, is a walking representation of the retailer’s history. She began selling slices of strawberry pie for 35 cents apiece at a location in Memphis, and only planned on a six-month stint. Instead of a brief stay, she made an entire career out of serving shoppers. Russell followed her husband to Huntsville, Ala., and became an assistant manager at a store there. She then moved back to Tennessee and was at a Whitehaven location for 25 years. So what were Russell’s two favorite things about the job? Serving the people (of course) and supervising trucks unloading at the store. Of course, we all know Russell is the precious cargo here. —BW


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