The elders often tell their children about their Soviet youth. They listen with delight about the “supermarkets” of the USSR, kinds of goods one could and could not buy, about their schoolyears so different from those of today. Let us remember more details…
Soviet groceries were so much unlike those we do shopping at today. Nowadays we fill shopping carts with various stuff in colorful packing, put bags with this stuff in cars and rush back home. If anyone could have seen us with such bags in the USSR, he would have probably considered us to be millionaires.
Supermarkets were called “Universam” stores and that means “Universal stores”.
Typical Soviet “Universam”.
Apart from so-called supermarkets there were smaller grocery stores in every neighborhood.
There were wooden or metal bread stands with a tied metal spoon for testing bread’s freshness. One could always feel fine smell of just-baked bread.
Dairy stores could boast of the rich range ofย dairy products – milk, kefir, sour acidophilus milk, ryazhenka (fermented baked milk), sour cream. People lined up for butter when it wasn’t even delivered yet.
Dairy products were usually sold in glass bottles transported in such metal boxes. When a car with milk was coming up, the rattle of these boxes was heard from far away.
Fish stores often sold a lot of preserved fish and intense herring smell could be felt inside.
It was such a chic to open a can of Baltic sprats canned with oil for the New Year celebration.
Famous sign “Vegetables-fruits”.
There was also a special smell inside these stores – smell of cabbage, beetroots, carrot and sour cucumbers.
There were also innumerable glass jars. Instead of Tetra Paks one could buy 3-liter jars with tomato, apple, pear or birch juice.
The stores presented a rather miserable spectacle inside. On the picture below you may see a sales area of an ordinary Soviet “supermarket”. The checkout counters look a bit like modern ones but back then one couldn’t buy some bubble gum there.
In a meat section meat lay on metal trays that’s why there was always a rattle when taking away and putting them back.
Meat and sausage departments could boast of very advanced equipment – wooden boards, knives and scales with weights. No slicers, electronic scales, shrink-wrap or a packing person. Sausages were sliced into 200-300 gr pieces. One was allowed to buy only one piece. To buy more people had to take their children or relatives with them.
Line by the store is waiting for opening to get inside first hoping to buy some hard-to-get goods.
Today standing in a supermarket line of three we begin to express our indignation because not all checkout counters are working. Soviet people were used to stay in longer lines, it was an everyday occurence.
While parents stood in lines, children went to schools.
The distinctive feature of Soviet schools was a school uniform that is practically no more used in modern Russia. It was usually of two colors- brown and blue.
Girls could choose between these two colors as well. Girls uniform of that time is popular nowadays only among highschool graduates which put it on for the last day at school.
Such emblems kids used to wear on the sleeves of their uniform.
Everyone was a member of Communist Union of Youth or a pioneer and wore such badges on the lapels.
And of course pioneers wore a red pioneer tie, the main must-have item. If the tie was tied incorrectly a teacher had to reprimand.
“Happy pioneer’s day!”