4404 Brambleton Ave
Roanoke, VA4/5 Stars
What I like most about this Kroger is that it's all the grandeur of an Amazing Stories episode AND the Twilight Zone. Which, admittedly, seem pretty similar on the surface but bear with me. NEW Kroger, aka Old Harris Teeter, aka Old Old Mick-or-Mack, was the first grocery store that was one part The Land pavilion in Epcot and one part grocery store. Many people wondered why they should even build it there since you can basically see the other Kroger from NEW Kroger but at the time they weren't allowed to tell you about monopolies and that other Cave Spring Kroger only existed at the time for teenagers to shoplift condoms and 40 ounces. This monopoly model isn't too different from their Kroger Gas model either which is just Old Sam's Club destroy the American Dream / Manifest Destiny model either. But I digress... So, yeah it's one part food world theme park in there; there's penguins and some north pole stuff in the freezer section, some mooing noises when you get milk out of another freezer (which is both cool and upsetting and maybe why I only drink almond milk now because subconsciously I know they can't scream when you milk them like the automated cow cries that happen when you get whole milk from Kroger), and most importantly, you the lights flicker and you get thunderstorm noises when the automated man behind the curtain goes to water all the produce! I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT EVERYTHING I JUST NOTED, NOW AND THEN! So, that's one way it's kind of fantastic and more like Amazing Stories.
But here's how it's like the Twilight Zone. So, when I graduated from high school I used to stay out all night. I was never doing anything really important, my friends just like to do nonsense all night. Some of those said friends took computer networking classes in high school so we were living out the dream of true multiplayer madness. Remember this was 1999, there was no Xbox Lives and Playstation Networks. So, yeah, we basically just played Diablo and Grand Theft Auto all night. I'd stumble in about the same time my Dad would be leaving for work and at first he was real cool about it because he's my Dad and he never thought I would graduate high school, but I did, so he's giving me some slack before I start community college in the fall because I was an underachiever. But after a while, he basically said "LOOK, AS LONG AS YOU LIVE UNDER MY ROOF YOU HAVE A CURFEW!" so I moved out.
The same friends from before then all moved into my childhood home on Sunny Side Drive just down the street from NEW Kroger. This was weird because it would have been like walking into NEW Kroger but it was Old Old Mick-or-Mack. But since it was NEW Kroger we spent a lot of time there waiting for 6AM so we could buy beer or buying .49 cent microwavable pizzas because we were poor. Long story short, my good friend Robbie and me are in there one night, probably buying those pizza roll things they make, not like the brand but these things you can get in their bakery which are like the unholy love child of a baker and a cafeteria lady's saturated fat wet dream. They'll like really unhealthy buttery dinner roles stuffed with some kind of dehydrated cheese that is never wet (if that makes sense) and pepperonis. If my kids ever wonder why I died of heart disease in my 50s, there's a smoking gun in the Kroger bakery. Anyhow, let's just say were we buying pizza rolls and not using a fake ID to get beer, when Robbie has to bite his lip till it bleeds to keep himself laughing and screaming out loud at the sheer hairy terror that is this dude who's leaving in a tank top. The man, who I now know to be a fine and beautiful human, was totally hairless from the tip of his head to his neck, no beard, just eyebrows. However, the rest of his werewolf like form was COVERED in thick amazing almost curly hair. Plus, as I said, dude was wearing some pastel colored tank top, God bless him. So, Robbie freak out laughs at this guy, and at the time I had a really bad diagnosed anxiety problem that didn't allow me to do things like laugh in public because my anxiety played heavy on all these imagined rules about society and etiquette and the ways people perceive you. Yeah, so Robbie laughs at this guy and not even a week later, guess who's baby bare shoulders start sprouting thick old hairs. My dude, Robbie Nettles.
Here's where the story dives deeper into the Sterling-esk ironic twist. Since Robbie got wolfman from tank-top from laughing at him, I TOO GOT WOLFMAN FROM LAUGHING AT ROBBIE!
In the end it was cool though because I love being hairy so maybe the Kroger Gods were trying to teach us a valuable lesson or not to buy beer underage or who knows. I'm just cool with being hairy now, that's all I'm saying.
Finally, Kroger used to carry these things called Breakfast Bars. They were Kroger brand, covered in chocolate and tasted just bad enough for you that you felt okay eating the whole box. I haven't had these since the mid-90s but if you guys could bring those and Monster Pops (just your basic fruit flavored popcicles but shaped like monsters) back that would be great.