"This Is Bigger Than My Head" — Woman Shops at U.S. Grocery Store in New Zealand

Callie (Carlos) Cadorniga - Author

Sep. 11 2023, Published 3:06 p.m. ET

If you've lived in the U.S. for a while, then you might be able to predict what you'll see at your local grocery store. Maybe you'll see plenty of Pop Tarts, Cheetos, and industrial-sized bottles of ketchup on the shelves and think nothing of it. After all, if you're a frequent grocery shopper, then you've probably snagged some of these items yourself on your grocery list. But what might be normal to those who live in the U.S. might be completely bonkers to anyone else.

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Take Jazz Thornton, for example. She is a highly successful New Zealander who is best known for her open advocacy of mental health and her influential social media presence. But when she isn't writing self-help books and winning New Zealand's version of Dancing With the Stars, she posts some pretty fun TikTok videos on her self-appointed spam account (@notjazzthornton). In one of her most popular videos, she goes to a U.S.-themed grocery store in her home country and is shocked by what she finds.

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Jazz Thornton shops at a U.S.-themed grocery store in her home country of New Zealand.

In her initial video, posted in early September 2023, Jazz had "just found out" that there was an American-themed grocery store that was remarkably close to where she lived. Without hesitation, she and her roommate decided to do a grocery run there.

Jazz discovered aisles upon aisles of cereals, snacks, and condiments that she wouldn't normally find in New Zealand but Americans would be wholly familiar with. These include but are most certainly not limited to Peanut Butter Crunch, Lays Stax, and giant bags of Cheetos Puffs.

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Jazz isn't shy to comment on the one thing for which American food products are infamous: their size. At several points, Jazz comments that the snacks and bottles at the store are bigger than her own head, and she's right every single time.

She even finds things that sound weird to seasoned American grocery shoppers like snack pickles and "pumpkin in a can." As an American who has done their own grocery shopping on several occasions, I've never heard of those things myself.

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While Jazz and her roommate were utterly shocked at the products and sizes that we Americans have been largely desensitized to, she did come home with plenty of American goodies.

Jazz bought:

  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch
  • Regular Cheetos
  • Canada Dry, which she calls "iconic"
  • Four boxes of mac and cheese
  • Top Ramen (which sort of counts as American)
  • Chips Ahoy, which she already "loves with [her] whole heart
  • Buttermilk pancake mix
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
  • Pop Tarts
  • Snack pickles
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Jazz was eager to dig into some of these goodies, especially with her roommate who had never eaten any American snacks before. In follow-up videos, they even review some of the snacks. They didn't like the pickles or the mac and cheese, but they gave the Cinnamon Toast Crunch glowing reviews.

Jazz even offered a comparison to her local New Zealand grocery shop to show how different the stores really are. Needless to say, they're built different in more ways than one.

The fruit section includes small baskets labeled "Free Fruit for Kids," encouraging shoppers to take some out to have as a healthy snack while shopping.

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In a somewhat less healthy move, Jazz's supermarket also has several aisles of wine. However, she notes that their cereals — which consist of oat-based products and "iconic" Weet-Bix — have way less sugar in them than what the rest of us might find in the U.S.

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Their canned drinks also come in cardboard boxes. Plastic rings have been banned in New Zealand as part of a move to protect the environment.

Jazz even shows off jars of Vegemite and flavored energy drinks that she feels bad Americans miss out on.

The comparison between U.S. and New Zealand groceries is stark, with the latter having taken several steps in their known products to exclude sugar, practice moderation in sizes, and even eliminate harmful waste. While those moves can be considered morally correct by any standard, at least we don't call ketchup "tomato sauce." That's a win, right?

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