Back to Basics: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sainsburys Barrel


Like most of the major supermarket chains, Sainsburys has its own range of food products that are catered to the ‘less discerning’ customer, like homeless people or students. Sainsburys, however, has gone the extra mile with its ‘Basics’ range. Each item has its own tagline to liven up the bland red and white packaging, but this attempt appears astonishingly misguided when you realise the taglines are, without exception, eye-gougingly awful:

Basics Strawberries – ‘All shapes and sizes, all ripe and ready’
I thought they were advertising strawberries, not a brothel?

"Close your eyes kids, I'll try and find our way back to the fruit aisle."
“Close your eyes kids, I’ll try and find our way back to the fruit aisle.”

Basics Pineapple Pieces in Juice – ‘All sizes under the sun’
Thank god for that. I never buy pineapple chunks normally for fear that there will somehow be a piece the size of the sun itself, but Basics puts those doubts to rest. Still, the scope for disappointment is huge when the packaging makes such an outrageous promise.


Basics Cooked and Peeled Prawns – ‘Responsibly sourced, single prawns, why shell out more’
Sainsburys fails to understand that there’s a thin line between ‘funny’ puns and puns that make customers want to curse the staff with violent diarrhoea. And much as I like that the prawns were responsibly sourced, I don’t see how their inability to hold down a girlfriend would make me want to eat them more.

Basics 5 Sponge Scourers – ‘Cleans. No added promises’
Sponge scourers don’t take shit from anyone. When these sponges aren’t cleaning (and nothing else, ok?) they hang around on the docks, smoking and bare-knuckle boxing. You don’t like it, you can fuck off.

Basics Spring Rolls – ‘Simple recipe, still an exotic little package’
I’m pretty sure writing Basics taglines is one of those tasks they give to prisoners to keep them busy while they’re serving their time. It can’t be helping rehabilitation though. Pretty sure they’re actually offering a Thai bride in this case as well.

Although with the declining standards in Thai brides, it's hard to tell these days.
Although with the declining standards in Thai brides, it’s hard to tell these days.

Basics Toilet Paper – ‘Everyday design, everyday use’
Nah, I only get the toilet paper for the pictures. It’s nice that Sainsburys assumes there’s an everyday use for sandpaper too.

Basics Medium Cut Orange Marmalade – ‘Less oranges, still Seville’
Things suddenly take a dramatic turn for the surreal. There’s a lot I look for in marmalade, but one criterion that never really comes up is its similarity to the regional capital of Andalusia in Spain. As far as I’m aware, it’s not very common to use names of cities as adjectives either. Nobody starts conversations by talking about how Paris the weather is today or the really Sao Paolo restaurant that just opened.

"I'd never have left the house if I'd known today was going to be so Brazzaville."
“I’d never have left the house if I’d known today was going to be so Brazzaville.”

Basics Apple Pie – ‘A little smaller, still in Apple Pie order’
Now I know the last one was actually referring to Seville oranges, but this one is indefensible. The poor convict bastard writing these must have been inches from snapping, and only had time to drool the name of the product at the end. It doesn’t make any sense, but then, neither does life for him anymore. The next batch of products isn’t going to be more imaginative than ‘A quiche quicher, but quichey quiche quiches.’

Editor and MA English student. Follow on Twitter @SamEverard1

Discussion18 Comments

  1. What a sad and lonely world we live in when we’re sat here leaving a comment that no-one will ever read on an article someone else has written about the taglines on a range of cheap products from a local supermarket. All the wonder and brilliance of the Universe, and this is what we’ve lowered ourselves to.

    Something here is wrong.

    • Sam Everard

      If it’s sad and lonely, you don’t have to read it. People don’t want to read articles that are the equivalent of standing outside overcome by the beauty of the world, because that’s not something anybody does. Go have your existential crisis elsewhere, please.

  2. I notice that press reports suggest that of all the major supermarkets it is only Waitrose that has not been seen to be removing products from its shelves in the wake of the “Horse Burger” scandal.

    Waitrose’s meat supply is 100 percent British, with the firm having its own dedicated supply chain and abattoir facilities. It is for this reason, knowing that they only buy British that I only buy my meat from Waitrose. It seems to me that this is the only reason that I am one of the few who is unlikely to have eaten horse meat, though I wonder whether the very occasional Burger King burger may have exposed me too.

    I note that the Managing Director of Waitrose Mark Price said that Britain’s “Horsegate” scandal, where horse DNA was found in beef burgers, was the inevitable result of major supermarkets squeezing their suppliers.

    Clearly Mark Price expects more people in future will choose to buy their meat from Waitrose, particularly if they want to have confidence in what is in the product. I know I will be doing so.

    • Of course the main concern with the horse meat scandal is not simply the horse meat itself, but whether it was even fit for human consumption.

      Being able to trust the labels is key. Those supermarkets who cannot demonstrate that they deserve to be trusted, or who seem to wish to use the cheapest poor quality suppliers may find it hard to regain that trust.

        • Well, I am not aware of any positive tests for horsemeat in Sainsbury’s products, however I have not personally seen anything to suggest that the lines removed as a precautionary measure have actually been tested and found to be negative.

          I understand from press reports that the lines removed include products sourced from Dalepak, a name which has come up in recent days.

          “One of the factories involved, Dalepak Hambleton, says it is likely to have come from a minor ingredient in the burgers, as all but one of the burgers had very low levels of the DNA. The investigations will focus on suppliers to the factories. The huge amount of DNA in one product does raise questions about whether more major ingredients were contaminated.”

          More detail on the Sainsbury products removed here:

          “Sainsbury’s has removed 13 own-brand lines from the shelves as a ‘precautionary measure’. A spokesman for the supermarket said: ‘Although Sainsbury’s products have not been implicated, as our customers would expect we treat matters like this extremely seriously. ‘All our burgers are made from 100 per cent British beef but as a precautionary measure we are withdrawing those sourced from Dalepak.'”

          Personally I am happy to be a Waitrose shopper, and I started shopping there years ago because I did not have enough confidence in the meat from most other large supermarkets. The recent crisis affecting a number of other retailers has left me feeling that I was correct to switch when I did.

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