Yeltsin’s Aha! Moment

When Boris Yeltsin went grocery shopping in Clear Lake

Craig Hlavaty, New Haven Registry

The fact that stores like these were on nearly every street corner in America amazed him. They even offered him free cheese samples.

In September 1989, Russian president Boris Yeltsin and a handful of Soviet companions made an unscheduled 20-minute visit to a Randall's Supermarket after touring the Johnson Space Center.See more photos of the foreign leader in an American grocery store... Photo: © Houston Chronicle

“When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons and goods of every possible sort, for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people,” Yeltsin wrote. “That such a potentially super-rich country as ours has been brought to a state of such poverty! It is terrible to think of it.”


One thought on “Yeltsin’s Aha! Moment

  1. Many decades ago, I read a book by a defector from the Soviet Union, and I still remember him talking about the first time he saw the inside of a typical grocery store in the U.S. He assumed it must be a Potemkin store, set up to impress visitors from other countries, not open to the general public. He thought his American hosts were putting him on when they told him that stores like that existed everywhere in the U.S. and that anyone could walk in off the street and buy whatever they wanted. The Soviet guy’s reaction was that such a thing was impossible! Why, if it were true, a woman could just walk in and buy enough food to feed her family for a week! Who ever heard of such a thing?

    Liked by 1 person

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