Latino food here, Hispanic food over there

Yesterday I went to visit my sister. The plan was to meet my mother halfway and carpool. Because it was raining I had left early and ended up arriving at our meeting point – (a WalMart shopping center in Maryland) – early. Since my mother hadn’t arrived, I went walking around WalMart while I waited.

Whenever I visit a WalMart I don’t usually shop in, I like to check out the “ethnic food aisle” to see if they stock anything different and exciting. Well, there was definitely something different about this WalMart. I wasn’t sure what to make of this…

Do you see what I see? The section has a sign that says “Latino food” – and then a few feet down, another sign that says “Hispanic food.”

What is this the result of? I would have loved to have overheard the managers meeting when this was decided – if it was intentional and not accidental. The papers taped to the shelves suggest to me that it’s inventory time. Will the signs be changed as shelves are rearranged? Was it cultural confusion? Maybe it was an attempt to be politically correct and all inclusive? … Or do they think that Valentina hot sauce is “Latino food,” while Ortega taco shells are “Hispanic food?” … You decide.

Posted on April 13, 2011, in Culture, food/drink, humor, Language. Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. Hi Tracy,

    Very confusing…If I go shopping, I would consider “Latino” or “Hispanic” food as one (or same category).Hmmmm

  2. Aye, que mensos! But if those are my choices, from the food aspect, mejor el Valentino, no? :)

  3. Maybe they mean Latino food is for people who want to be called Latino only, and Hispanic food is for those who prefer Hispanic… and they all just meet somewhere in the middle where the border gets lost, lol :-) Bad analogy I know, but I just can’t quite figure this one out comadre, jajaja!

  4. it looks to me like the hispanic food is food that nonlatinos would buy, the ‘hard shell’ taco kits are something ive never seen my wife’s family eat (or probably even hear of) whereas my ma made it often when i was growing up. under the hispanic section is taco bell salsa too.

    now of course under the ‘latino’ section is chile de la valentina, something i never heard of before i met my wife but is now something i use almost every day. the shelves are also filled with things i would normally see in a latino grocery, the canned chiles and salsas, etc.

    i think they just had a ‘hispanic’ section already which was geared towards non latinos, and then when more latino customers came in, they started stocking things that latinos would buy.

    i think its really interesting from a sociology point of view!

  5. I agree with Rimbambo, it looks like the Hispanic section is where the “americanized” latino food is at while under the Latino section you see authentic products. Or maybe they wanted to be inclusive??? quien sabe!

  6. That’s hilarious!! I’ve never seen that and at my local Walmart they only have a small section called Hispanic foods which should really read: Mexican food because that’s all they have. In fact, this is the case in all the markets by my house. While I appreciate they at least have this section, I always hate how they just lump it all together… such ignorance. I actually wrote about it here: http://biculturalme.tumblr.com/post/1660990405/do-you-speak-mexican

    • I remember that post Roxana – thanks for linking it!

      As I said in your comments, if I owned a market, I would have so much fun picking a diverse selection from all over Latin America to fill my shelves. If something didn’t sell, I’d try something else – but you have to give people a chance and not just assume they’ll only buy Mexican groceries. We have International Markets in the area which are owned by Asians and they have such diversity – foods from Pakistan, India, China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, etc. I dream of a Latino Market like that.

  7. Wow, very confusing indeed! I definitely have seen one of the other, but never both at the same time. Lol @ Mr. Juan of Words! Viva la Valentina! Everyone should have a bottle in their cabinet :)
    I just thought of another possible explanation…maybe they started with the Hispanic sign and then in an effort to be more “PC” the company sent a Latino sign to replace the Hispanic one. But the message was lost along the way & a clueless worker just added the new sign w/o removing the old one (whether by oversight or ignorance). That’s my theory.

  8. LOL! Thanks for the chuckle of the day!

  9. No tengo idea!

  10. Maybe they got a buy one get one free deal on the signs so they figured they would cover all the bases with terms.

  11. I agree with Rimbambo’s explanation. I wonder if the Walmart’s in Mexico will start a Gringo Foods aisle?

    • OMG… You must go and find out! LOL.

      I know that grocery stores in El Salvador had aisles with American food, (which was $$$!) – but I can’t remember what the sign said! Darn!

    • Hi Leslie I am a gringo I guess anyway a mixed gringo or am I mixed up who knows. I guess they are trying to stay politically correct. My grandson is of Latino, German, French, Asian, Irish, English, American descent. I wonder if they can come up with a term for that one, anyway I love all kinds of food. 

  12. Alrighty then.
    We have an “ethnic foods” aisle in our store and it covers Indian, “Mexican”, Oriental, Polynesian and some Kosher foods, etc… never enough of each, only the most mainstream items like ricecrackers, salsa, vindaloo, noodles, soya sauce, peanut sauce, falaffel mix, and simple stuff like that… boring.

  13. Wow…lol! That is strange. Typically, you’d choose one or the other. Either they are being inclusive or just completely unaware…lol. Really interesting though! I’ll definitely be looking out for this phenomena in my own Wal-mart. ;)

  14. Hahahaha. Very funny, my friend.
    Aquí, una actriz famosa dijo: “son simpáticos los chilenos… además, son casi latinos”.

  15. My guess is that the duplicate sign was meant to replace the original sign. I’m guessing Latino is the newer one meant to replace Hispanic, as the community is starting to embrace Latino more & more.

    Walmart doesn’t give a rip about being inclusive, they only care about the $$. Sounds snotty, but it’s true of all the big companies.

    The food is just organized in the photo by family;
    hot sauce > taco shells > beans.

    It’s not hot sauce & canned cactus, then beans (eaten by everyone) then Americanized Mexican food: taco shells & mild sauce. The 2nd sign is superfluous & was probably meant to be removed.

    Cracks me up, though! Meanwhile ALL OF ASIA is lumped into 1 4 foot section at our WalMart.

  16. Me dejan más confundida que cabra en misa! Sería interesante saber la explicación de Walmart.

  17. funny alot now just say ethnic and throw in some asian products. It would be nicer vs that craziness lol
    There is a foodlion here that it says Mexican food and there are more Puerto Rican items lol

  18. Rimbambo I agree, and if this is the case a little insulting! And Roxana I agree! Luckily in LA we are alway close to different markets whether it be Indian, Argentinian, Salvadoran,etc.

    This is something else!!

  19. How very interesting. I’ll have to look closer and see how it’s labeled in my local walmart. I passed your post along to our contact that handles our Walmart Moms program and he passed along to the Hispanic Marketing team. ;)

  20. Given that Spanish-speakers argue about which term to use, Walmart is making both camps happy.
    The “Latinos” can shop in one aisle and the “Hispanics” can shop in the other…

    See?

    LOL

    What a laugh!

  21. I love it! It looks like the latino food has lots of chile and hot sauce while the hispanic food doesn’t? I wonder what the asian isle looked like…haha

  22. Very interesting! I wonder also what do they understand by frustrating those 2 terms!

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