Host: David Ruprecht
Announcer: Johnny Gilbert, Randy West
PREMISE: Three teams play "The Price is Right" to gain seconds for use during the "Big Sweep," where player gather as much grocery merchandise as possible, in order to have a chance at $5000.
The Front Game
To begin, three teams are called from the audience by an item each pair is holding. Those players take a position at the three buzzers. Each team is given 1:30 to use in the big sweep, and the first question is worth 10 seconds, and is a rhyming puzzle, to which the answer is a product in the market. The team that is correct wins the time, and the partner may win $50 by finding the specially marked package of that item, and bring it back within 30 seconds. In later years,
there was a possibility of $100 if the item was brought back in 20 seconds. If the wrong product is brought back, or the right product but without the marker, tough noogies, no bonus.
Then, the first players are given a chance to win 30 or 40 seconds by playing one of several games.
The players first play a grocery game, along the lines of "which costs most/least?" Three products are shown, and the players secretly vote. Correct guesses win 10 seconds, and if all three are right, 20 more seconds are added.
After the break, the partners play a game where the answers are various products found in the market. Other times, the teams play a game where guessing the name of a product via "Pyramid" type clues wins 30 seconds for the sweep.
For the final game where teams can win seconds, all six players compete in the "Round Robin" game. This game has six questions at 10 seconds each, and the partners alternate after each question. The questions either pertain to unscrambling words or naming products from a series of clues. After the "Round Robin" game, the teams take their time to the Big Sweep.
The Big Sweep
The teams put on sweatshirts with their team number (1-2-3, assigned based on time accumulated) and are first informed of bonus items in the market to be found. Teams are let into the market as their time
counts down. The only rules are: take a maximum of five of any one item; pick up what you knock down (this includes cameramen filming) or suffer a $25 per item fine, and stop when the bell sounds.
In order to help out the teams' scores, various bonuses are presented. Most of the time, the dilemma facing the players is whether to go for guaranteed money in the shopping, or a chance at more money by taking the bonus.
Special Bonuses: Worth $50-$100-$200, stuffed animals or large inflated balloons of products
have bonus tags on them. The money amount is revealed and added to the score if the bonus
is over the check-out line before time is up. Later, a $250 bonus was added, but only one to a
"customer." During SUPERmarket Sweep, a $300 bonus was included, but was discontinued.
Shopping List: Worth $250, David read a list of three exact items to be either in the cart or over the
line before time was up. If all three were located, the money was added to the total.
International Bread Center: Similar to the Shopping List, David read a list of three bread types,
and a quantity of each to be bagged and returned for $250.
Mystery Product: In another variation of the Shopping List, three TV monitors were in the market,
each with a one-word clue to a product. Finding that one product won $250.
Coffee Grinder: To win $100, a shopper took a bag of coffee beans, and had to grind them all and
seal the bag for $100.
Candy Corner: To win $100, the shopper had to scoop bulk candy and make the total in a bag
come to $1.00, within 2 cents either way. Now worth $200.
Manager's Special: About halfway through the sweep, David would come over the intercom and
announce the "Manager's Special for today is..." and name a kind of canned food. A bin to the
right of the checkout lines had 200 cans of food, three of them being the right kind, and having
a red star on the bottom. Finding one of the starred cans won $200, with a limit of one.
Super Sandwich: To earn $200, the shopper had to complete a sub sandwich with several cheesses,
meats, and condiments, put the sandwich in a bag, and tie it for $200. All parts had to be included,
or the bonus was void, even if it was a tiny piece of cheese.
Cracker Jackpot: To win $200, the shopper had to open several Cracker Jack boxes to find one
where the "prize" was a marker with the show logo on it.
Recycle Machine: Three bags of empty soda cans are around the store, and if a shopper returned
a bag to the partner, the partner could go to the recycling machine, where 10 cans crunched issued
a receipt for $100.
Stack Job: Three bags had 21 cans in them, and the shopper tried to return them to the partner,
who proceeded to a table where the cans had to be stacked in the form of a pyramid to receive a
token worth $100.
The Final Act, the Hunt for $5,000
At the conclusion of the sweep, the merchandise is entered into the checkstands, and the total buttons
are pressed. The team with the highest score then plays for $5000. The team is given a clue to find
an item in the market. That clue leads to another item, which leads to another item, with the $5000 behind it.
If the $5000 is not found before the bell sounds, the team wins $200 for each clue found.
Supermartket Sweep has run several different "formats" one of which was Gourmet Week, where
the three top scoring teams returned on Friday, with the winners getting a trip to France. They have
also had "Second Chance" weeks, where teams that won the Sweep but didn't catch the money
got another shot at the $5000. There was also a week where winning teams got to run the race
again, with $10,000 at the end. The winning team cleaned up over $16,000. The longest special
was the "Twin Car Giveaway." The game ran as normal for three weeks, where the top twelve
winners came back, and the top six winners of the Semi-Finals returned on Friday. How can there
be six finalists and one day left, you ask? Simple, run two Big Sweeps. Each team got three
minutes in the market, and eight Round Robin questions were played, each worth $50. The winning
score was a huge $1,585, and Rick and James each won a Geo Tracker, and scooped a bounty
of $26,837 (the most ever on SS).
The highest sweep score ever in the history of the show is $2,254, by Jessica and Jerry (from the PAX era). They racked up 3:40 in time to run the sweep. They won the $5,000 bonus round, came back for a Double Your Money Week, and won that as well.
Supermarket Sweep runs in several other countries, but the only one I've seen is from Canada,
where the winning team pulls a letter in the title to choose their prize, and teams stay on as long
as they keep winning.
There was a 1960s version, and a rare board game was made. I'm working on a current game.
Not real likely, for obvious reasons.
David Ruprecht has been the host of this show since it began on Lifetime on 1990, and stayed with it as they made the change to PAX in 2000. He plays the role just right, not taking it too seriously, and celebrating appropriately with the teams after a $5,000 win; but is also able to be the bearer of bad news if a team got very close but didn't get their hands on the money.
The announcer for the Lifetime run was announcer stalwart Johnny Gilbert. Johnny played the role of the horse-race caller, breathlessly describing the action from "Go" to the final bell, and while he did a good job, the style seems out of place.
For the PAX version, announcer Randy West was brought in, and he fits in with the goofy style of the show perfectly. Often making atrociously bad puns relating to whatever the team is grabbing, West can also keep the pace of the Big Sweep moving while laying out some of the rules "Jim had better pick up those cans he knocked down or there'll be a $25 penalty for each one...good...he got 'em, let's move down the aisle to Nancy in the Health and Beauty section..." and so forth.
The game is easy to follow, and deviates enough from "The Price is Right" to not be a copycat. The front games are switched around so as to keep things fresh and there must be a dozen different bonus games to pick from for the Big Sweep.
For the first run, teams were pulled out of the manic audience based on the item they held. Sure, they were chosen beforehand, but it was a nice effect. The PAX opening just had the teams running out of the market, and did away with the audience entirely, using an applause track instead. The audience for the Lifetime run would watch the time-building round but the bleachers were moved to make room for the sweep.
The music is instantly recognizable to a game show fan, and fits in with the high-energy atmosphere of the program.
I happen to like this one, I'm not sure why. Probably because I wish I could do that. It's lasted forever, they must be doing something right.