Friday, May 25, 2012

The Prodigal Tom-boy Returns Home

At the sale I went to a couple weeks back where I bought the Amana Radarange Popcorn Popper, I saw a sight that while common to estate sales has always puzzled me -- grocery items for sale.  I'm not sure who buys perishable and typically outdated items at estate sales, but they must sell.  This time, however, something caught my eye.

Prior to about 1980, Tom-boy Market was one of only a couple local grocery stores available to homeowners in Oakville, Missouri where I grew up.  My first understanding of the term "Tom-boy" was due to this store and in fact, I associated it first with the store and was confused when a rowdy girl in my school was called one.

The nostalgia being too much, I bought the bottle, not really knowing what I would do with it.  Suprisingly (or maybe not), the imitation Vanilla inside still smelled good, however, my wife wanted nothing to do with it.

I then remembered visiting a small neighborhood market in St. Louis Hills on Chippewa called LeGrand's.  I'd discovered this store accidentally several years earlier while on a trip to my favorite donut stop, Donut Drive-in.  I normally stop at the donut shop early mornings before the sun is up and the glow of neon and the name caught my eye.

LeGrand's still operates a grocery store there as well as a deli. 

 What fascinated me inside was that they maintain a Tom-Boy museum of old store-branded products, displaying them above the fruits and vegetables.

They even continue to use and maintain the original Tom-Boy shopping carts.

I couldn't think of a better place for my bottle of vanilla to call home.  So on Friday, I went to LeGrand's on my lunch hour.  I considered adding the bottle covertly wondering if anyone would ever notice the addition, but as I was standing, looking for the ideal location, the manager approached me and asked if she could help me find something.  So I told her my intention to donate the bottle to the store.  She was very happy and appreciative and found it a place of honor on the shelf:

She then offered a free lunch in exchange for my donation, which I gratefully accepted.  Looking at the menu, I realized there wasn't a more appropriate sandwich to order than "The Tom-boy".  That and bag of Uncle Ray's Hot Potato chips made for a tasty lunchtime surprise.

I'm glad my Tom-boy found her way home to join the LeGrand's Tom-boy Sisterhood.


  1. such a great full-circle story. i wish you could've pulled off the covert donation, but a free lunch is also a nice thing. i've never heard of that brand of potato chip -- perhaps a regional thing?

  2. I failed to leave out a part of the name of the potato chips. They are Uncle Ray's Potato chips, to be precise. Apparently, they started in Detroit. See for details. Locally, I've only seen them at LeGrand's. Pick some up if you come across them. They're a pretty decent chip.

  3. Awesome to know... great memories of these old stores. Wonderful to know they are maintaining this history

  4. i have seen this brand of potato chips at dierberg's and family dollar.

    1. Thanks for the tip. I'll have to keep an eye out for them.


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