October 7, 2013 at 6:07 am

Maureen Tisdale

Let's Talk Food (shopping): Impulse grocery buys and hard-to-find yams

Purple Passion Potatoes: I just couldn't resist the marketing. (Maureen Tisdale / The Detroit News)

My husband and I sport very different styles of grocery shopping. The only characteristics we share are that we each go with a list I come up with based on the meals planned for the week, and a time-limit.

As I’ve shared before, I’m a slave to Morning Brain so I go very early by myself and need to get back before my husband needs to leave for work. My husband, so not a morning person, takes our son with him after work and needs to finish before the toddler loses interest and pitches a fit.

But truth be told, my husband long has been a slave to some inner drive that makes him race to get the shopping done as quickly as possible; I’ve always feared for little old ladies who might get in his way as he madly charges down aisles.

The upside of his terrifying speed and singleness of purpose is he doesn’t get sucked in by marketing. Whereas I might occasionally stop and smell the Purple Passion Potatoes.

That’s the latest brilliant marketing that sucked me in, these potatoes touted as “slightly sweet, yet nutty” (two of my favorite things!) “with a plump texture and firm skim.”

It didn’t stop there, or with the eye-catching purple packaging. “Simply amazing potatoes!” another note said; three balloons under that read: “fast prep,” “fantastic flavor” and “everyday or gourmet.” I almost could resist getting them, then the nail in the coffin: “Simply GUARANTEED amazing.”

What’s a curious cook to do?

So they were tucked into my cart and tried the following week. They weren’t bad, but they didn’t (couldn’t?) live up their billing, either. I thought they’d be like these amazing purple Thai yams (or Hawaiian sweet potatoes, as I’ve also seen the same product labeled) they used to sell regularly at Randazzo’s and the Asian market near our church (and I spotted briefly at Westborn around Christmas), but that I haven’t found in forever. Those deep-colored beauties taste to me like cake (I can hear my husband saying: “No, they don’t.” But I really think they are at least like muffins in both texture and flavor). Those could earn the name Purple Passion Potatoes.

These? They were good, but not amazing enough to get passionate about. That said, it could be like when I finally watched the movie “Shakespeare in Love” many years ago: By the time I saw it, I’d heard so many people singing its praises my expectations were through the roof and couldn’t possibly be met.

So, feel free to judge for yourself; my husband said they were still at Kroger when he shopped there Friday. Meanwhile, I’ll go back to dreaming of those other purple yams – and working on my impulse control.

What product marketing has sucked you into impulse grocery store purchases? We’d love to hear about it — and any local market you know of featuring those beautiful deep-purple Thai or Hawaiian yams — in the comments below. You need a Facebook account to add comments, but they’re easy to sign up for, and free. Maureen Tisdale, Detroit News Food Editor, will keep an eye out the next few days to respond to any great comments or questions you post. You can also follow her on Twitter @reentiz. Join the conversation!