This post originally appeared on June 25, 2019, in Add to Cart — the weekly newsletter for people who love shopping (almost) as much as they love eating. Subscribe now.
We’re all obsessed with great deals. But it can be really, really hard to know if you’re getting one.
As the Atlantic pointed out in an article that I literally haven’t stopped thinking about it since it was published way back in 2017, the actual price of a product has gotten increasingly difficult to ascertain. The notion of a set price — one fixed price, the starting point to which any deals or discounts are applied — was actually an innovation to begin with, replacing haggling in the early 20th century. Now, thanks to endless algorithms and big data, prices are a moving target; to understand what something “actually costs,” especially on sites for Amazon or Walmart or other big retailers, is to embark down an internet K-hole of no return.
Amazon’s Prime Day is almost upon us — the official dates, announced late last night, are July 15 and 16 — and with it will come many headlines and email blasts alerting you to all sorts of supposedly great deals. We’ll be highlighting some deals on Eater, as well. But the whole enterprise needs to be taken with a grain of salt (and research, if you’re so inclined): How deeply discounted is that Vitamix, really? Is the $200 sous vide really on sale if the $300 list price is never used by any retailer, anywhere? Is the Prime Day Instant Pot deal actually better than just taking your friend’s unused one off her hands for free? Stay skeptical, my friends.
Things to buy
- Paper straws are a soggy substitute for plastic straws, and metal ones are hard to keep track of. Hay! straws, made of “wheat stems,” aka literal hay, are a decent alternative: They don’t have a weird flavor, can withstand hours of drinking (trust me, I gave them a good test run last weekend), and are biodegradable.
- If you can’t make the trip to Hawai‘i to get yourself a food shirt IRL, Uniqlo’s Hawaiian Loco tee collection has tons of charming tees spotlighting iconic local establishments, including Leonard’s.
- Another entry in the growing list of stylish aprons, this new Freitag apron is softer than it looks, features an adjustable neck strap, and is made from compostable fabric (though for the high price, ideally, you won’t toss it for a long, long time).
- How chic is this Taiwanese tea?
Things to know
- This essay on the Instant Pot “honeymoon phase” is spot on.
- Despite the near dominance of online shopping, buying liquor is still a largely IRL experience, and the websites out there can feel like throwbacks to another internet era. I did, however, recently stumble on Pure Goods, which feels more modern and pleasant to peruse than any liquor store site I’ve been on.
- I do not know why food sneakers are such a thing and who actually buys them; nevertheless, with NBA star Anthony Davis’s new Ruffles Ridge Tops sneakers, they persist.
- Okay, please tell me who is staying at the Taco Bell hotel.