Grocery Game is a pricing game that uses grocery items and is played for a prize usually valued between $3,000 and $10,000, although it has also been played for cars and, on two occasions, three rooms of furniture.
Having debuted on Price's second episode from September 5, 1972 (#0012D, aired out of order on September 6), Grocery Game is one of the original five pricing games.
- The contestant is shown five grocery items. The goal of the game is to buy a total between $20 and $22. To do this, the contestant will choose an item, and how many of that item he/she wants to buy. The price is revealed, multiplied by the quantity of the purchase, which itself is rung up on a cash register. If the total is less than $20, they may choose another item and how much of it, which is added to their total. This continues until he/she has spent over $20 or used up all five grocery items. The player loses by spending over $22 or by spending less than $20 after using all five items. If the contestant succeeds in spending between $20-$22, he/she wins the prize.
- Grocery Game first premiered on September 5, 1972 (#0012D, the second show, which aired out of order on September 6) and was created by Goodson-Todman staffer Imie Lane Camelli. Its original winning range was $6.75 to $7.00. This was increased to $20-21 on January 26, 1989 (#7124D) due to inflation and was extended an extra dollar on October 6, 2016 (#7634K). In shows produced during the first week of tapings, the contestant was given $100 at the start of the game. If the player won the game or exhausted all five grocery items before reaching $6.75, he/she kept the $100.
- Grocery Game was the third pricing game to be won on the day it premiered and it was won for the very first time on its premiere date, September 5, 1972 (#0012D, aired out of order on September 6).
- Originally, the game was revealed first and the grocery items were described before the prize was described, which was similar to Hi Lo until 2008. On November 26, 1974 (#1172D), it was changed to have the prize description read before the game was revealed.
- From September 5, 1972 (#0012D, aired out of order on September 6) until November 28, 2000 (#1602K), Janice Pennington was traditionally the Grocery Game's cashier. On November 23, 1998 (#0911K), she started to wear reading glasses after she made a typographical error on the previous playing. Since December 21, 2000 (#1634K), while any one of the models appearing that day will run the cash register, it's usually Rachel Reynolds. Due to this, host Drew Carey will often joke that they "found the model at a grocery store working as a cashier."
- The first four times Grocery Game was played, the contestant was awarded supplies of all five groceries regardless of the game's outcome. That was changed before the fifth game because the producers thought it was way too nice to do that. However, on October 27, 1972 (#0085D), Grocery Game was lost when contestant Marge Escarcega bought 24 Chunky bars on the first purchase, but surprisingly, Marge got to keep the 24 Chunky bars bought in the game.
- On April 5, 1991 (#7985D), the game mistakenly used the Shell Game sign. Additionally, the Grocery Game sign was absent on December 23, 1980 (#3922D), October 15, 1993 (#8925D), June 12, 2003 (#2854K), June 1, 2007 (#4015K), and September 21, 2015 (#7211K, the 44th season premiere); the former was because of an abundance of Christmas decorations on the turntable while the latter was a throwback 1972 theme.
- On September 16, 1993 (#8884D), Barker thought the contestant had lost the game since Janice Pennington only had the bottom part of the range in mind.
- On May 1, 1996 (#9963D), the cash register rang up as $21.76, despite this, the "WIN!" light flashed and the winning bell sounded, but Bob apologized for losing for seeing that Katherine went over $21. At the start of the first Showcase Showdown, everyone realized there was an error and that her total was actually $20.76, and so she won the prize.
- On October 6, 1999 (#1203K), the cash register malfunctioned and it said $21.45 instead of $20.45. Bob and Janice sort of had a hard time figuring out whether Bonnie Waycaster won or not. But Bonnie was awarded the prize due to a technical win.
- During The Price Is Right Salutes the U.S. Coast Guard Primetime special on May 21, 2002 (#003SP, aired out of order on July 12, originally rescheduled to air June 6), Grocery Game was played for three different rooms, but sadly it was lost.
- Grocery Game’s current cash register can only add up to twenty items per purchase. This was further tested on April 24, 2004 (#016SP) Million Dollar Spectacular "Salute the Teachers" when contestant Patricia asked for twenty-five of an item. That amount was calculated offstage and, not surprisingly, was way over the limit (total was $32.25 @ $1.29 apiece).
- For the first few years in the Carey era, the five products involved shared a common theme. Each theme was formerly concocted by Scott Robinson of the show's staff.
- The first and only perfect win on the nighttime show came in the Dennis James Era when a contestant hit $7.00 on the nose with a few purchases, while the first (and only) perfect win ever on the daytime show came on Christmas Day 1979 (#3532D) when contestant Teri hit $7.00 on the nose with just one purchase.
- Dorothy Sye (then known as Dot Sye), the first player and first winner of Grocery Game (lost her showcase), returned on November 11, 2008 (#4502K, aired out of order on November 3); she got up on stage and played Coming or Going where she lost and also lost in the Showcase Showdown. Ironically, Grocery Game was played that day, but by contestant Torey Wolfe, and was the 5th game played before Dorothy's game. Torey, just like Sye did back in 1972, won her playing.
- On April 13, 2015 (#7091K, aired out of order on April 27), the cash register as Rachel was ringing up the first total glitched out, when she got her teeth fixed.
- On March 24, 2017 (#7865K, aired out of order on March 31), the College Rivals episode, Peyton Dilweg (Duke) won a home theater system with sports package and a Papa John's $1,200 Gift Card, while Dayci Brookshire (North Carolina) was denied.
- The most number of times this game was played in any season was 99.
- The cash register model is somewhat similar to the National Cash Register Class 24, only with a mounted lighted display showing a green "WIN!" and red "OVER" decal.
- Grocery Game was one of seven pricing games seen in the first taping session of season 36, which was seen on October 15, 2007 (#4041K, aired out of order on October 16), October 23, 2007 (#4052K, aired out of order on November 1), November 1, 2007 (#4064K, aired out of order on October 24), November 9, 2007 (#4075K, aired out of order on November 6), November 14, 2007 (#4083K, aired out of order on November 27), and November 19, 2007 (#4091K, aired out of order on December 11).
- James is the only current male model that has done the cash register; Devin has never done it before.
The game has been adapted for many other countries' versions, with the only major difference being the price ranges:
|Australia||Turpie era: $6.75 ~ $7 (as in America at the time)|
Emdur era: $10 ~ $10.50
|Canada||$9 ~ $10|
|France||Original era: 95₣ ~ 99₣ (roughly €14.50 ~ €15)|
Lagaf' era: €10 ~ €11
|Germany||DM27 ~ DM30 (roughly €13.75 ~ €15) (later DM12 ~ DM13 [about €6 ~ €6.50])|
|Italy||₤45,000 ~ ₤48,000 (roughly €22.50 ~ €25)|
|Vietnam||VND200,000 ~ VND300,000|
(Another small difference is the Australian version gets more into the theming of the game, with the cashier wearing a colorful smock like the ones worn at Australian supermarkets.)
In Vietnam, the rules are slightly different: The contestant will choose one to five items, and how many of those items he/she wants to buy. The total isn't revealed yet until the contestant locked his/her decision. If the total price doesn't meet the range, the game automatically ends and the contestant loses. This rule making the game very difficult and not many contestant won the game throughout the years. As a result, many Vietnamese contestants tried to win this game by purchasing large quantities of only one product. The limit is different for each time it played, but usually, the threshold was VND5,000 before 2012, and VND30,000 to VND50,000 from 2012 onward.
To view the gallery, click here.
Grocery Game Premiere (September 5, 1972, #0012D, aired out of order on September 6)
An early perfect playing of Grocery Game (December 25, 1979, #3532D)
First Playing with the $20-$21 Range (January 26, 1989, #7124D)
The most heartbreaking playing of Grocery Game ever!
The cash register malfunctions! (October 6, 1999, #1203K)
The worst playing of Grocery Game ever! (November 1, 2002, #2285K)
Grocery Game for a truck (May 10, 2012, #5964K)
Rob Wilson's Only Time as a Grocery Game Cashier (January 8, 2013, #6172K, aired out of order on October 16, 2012)
A Win from 2014 (April 16, 2014, #6703K)
Grocery Game for a Prius (October 27, 2014, #6861K)
|1970s Pricing Games|
|Any Number | Bonus Game | Double Prices | Grocery Game | Bullseye (1) | Clock Game | Double Bullseye | Five Price Tags | Most Expensive | Money Game | Give or Keep | Range Game | Hi Lo | Double Digits | Lucky Seven | Temptation | Mystery Price | Shell Game | Card Game | Race Game | Ten Chances | Golden Road | Poker Game | One Right Price | Danger Price | 3 Strikes | Hurdles | Cliff Hangers | Safe Crackers | Dice Game | Bullseye (2) | Switcheroo | Hole in One (or Two) | Squeeze Play | Secret 'X' | Professor Price | Finish Line | Take Two | Shower Game | It's Optional | Punch-A-Bunch | Telephone Game | Penny Ante|