December 16, 2011

The rather charming 1950s idea of a drive-through supermarket

Day 350 of Vintage 365

Having never counted myself amongst the legions of science fiction fans (minus a brief period in the early 90s when I rather enjoyed watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, though that may very have more to do with the schoolgirl crush I had at the time on Commander Riker), I don't spend too much time perusing old Sci-Fi books or magazines.

In the course of my online vintage travels however, I do sometimes chance upon an image with a science fiction or futuristic spin to it that is simply to delightful or interesting, for whatever reason, to merely pass by without giving it a second thought.

As some readers may recall back in mid-November, I posted a wonderful, completely un-space alien-esque flying saucer that tickled my fancy (let's face it, there is something rather appealing about having your own personal flying saucer to zip around the air in!), which was certainly one of the first such sci-fi inspired images to appear on Chronically Vintage.

Jump ahead to this week and what did I happened to spy when checking out one of my favourite vintage image poster's streams on Flickr (that of What Makes the Pie Shops Tick?), than the fantastically fun illustration below of a futuristic drive-through supermarket.


How marvelously fun about the idea of pulling your car up to a drive-through window and ordering all of your groceries for the week in one fell swoop? In an era that abounded with carhops and drive-in movie theaters, I can completely see why this idea took shape and am almost surprised someone didn't implement it back then.

Perhaps they didn't though, because it reality a drive-through grocery may not actually save you very much time or the store much money (if any at all). If you stopped by just to pick up three or four simple items (e.g., milk, apples, bread and potatoes), the process might go quickly, but if you had a fifty item shopping list, it could take whomever went to put together your order just about as long to gather said items than if you'd just gone into a conventional supermarket and grabbed them yourself.

Nevertheless, the idea is rather darling and has an unmistakably fun, kitschy kind of Jettisons-like quality to it. Interestingly, over the the years a few supermarket chains (such as Tesco in the UK) have dabbled with testing out drive-through grocery stores (or at least, as in the aforementioned case of Tesco, the ability for customers to place their orders online ahead of time and then pick them up upon arrival at the store), though none (that I'm aware) of have really caught on so far and this idea remains one that, for the most part, is relegated to the realm of science fiction.

I wouldn't shut the book on the concept completely yet though. As with many futuristic predictions about the mysterious world of tomorrow that were made in decades past, the drive-through supermarket - even if it differs from the concept put forth in this image from the 1950s - may yet still become a commonplace intuition one day.


  1. Some people do believe in doing their supermarket shopping online and having it all delivered at home. I've never tried that out because I think I'd rather be there to shop myself, whatever the hassle. This poster is super cute - I love those old American vehicles (you can't call them cars - they were too grand weren't they?)

  2. Ha love this! The illustration is 50's ideas like this ha!

  3. While it wasn't a snazzy as this, I do remember a grocery store my Mom used that had as it's big attraction a conveyer belt that took your boxed up groceries and delivered them outside to the drive up lane where they could be loaded into your car. I don't remember if you still had to do the lifting or if they had box boys, but I do remember it was a sensation!