My sense is that Aldi treats grocery shopping the way it ought to be treated, as a grim and necessary duty carried out by responsible adults seeking the best prices and not seeking affirmation about what kind of people they are. The families trudging through Aldi, pushing the oversize cart that you must pay a 25-cent deposit for in the parking lot, are generally nonplussed by the goods on offer, a bizarre array of hapless pseudobrands like “Savoritz” and “Fit & Easy” and “Happy Farms.” The products confer no status, so affirmation for people buying stuff there can then theoretically come from more appropriate sources connected to practices more integral to our identity than shopping. Whereas at Trader Joe’s customers are patronized like children and flattered and cajoled as if they were helpless simps desperate to be told what will make them cool and clever. The food is marketed as if it all were potentially trendy and impressive. The general impression the experience seems designed to leave shoppers with is that they are superior to the ordinary grocery shopper because they are more alert to a veneer of signifiers overlaying the products and can keep up with and decode these signifiers efficiently.