“THE MOST FAMOUS ROBOT-RUN SUPERMARKET IN THE WORLD…HELD UP BY RAMPAGING ROBOTS! IT COULD ONLY HAPPEN IN ARKANSAS…OR COULD IT?”
At a crucial moment in “Finest Kind,” the Mississippi Kite and crew get an emergency call: a robot-driven robbery spree in Little Rock, targeting a supermarket chain operated almost entirely by robots, Keedoozle. Which was a real thing, or almost. It mighta coulda been if a few things about history had gone differently, so Clarence Saunders — the man who invented the modern grocery store — could get his vision for Supermarket 2.0 going:
Keedoozle started in the late 1930s, and…clearly did not last long, or we’d all be more likely to have heard of it or seen it in an old movie at least. (Hell, how many New York movies does the Automat play a part in?) Only three were ever built, all in the Memphis area — the last one, opened a decade after the initial launch, only lasted a year or so.
“Many have told me that Memphis is too small, too village-minded, to appreciate KEEDOOZLE, that this newest KEEDOOZLE should be right now in New York as part of Broadway’s sights to intrigue those who come there open-mouthed to see and gasp with amazement as they look at things different from back home, but to all I have said, Memphis is my home, and whether what I do is appreciated or not, because I appear to be local talent, just the same Memphis shall be the birthplace of KEEDOOZLE, and you see it is. Those who do not now accclaim will be mighty proud away from home to brag and say, oh yes, Clarence is so and so and such a good friend, maybe, not hardly speaking to me at Memphis, or else I don’t speak to them.”
Like Babbage’s Analytical Engine or early attempts at mobile phones pre-every invention that goes into cellular networks (people knew exactly how to do that twenty years before it was real-life possible, and then it was another twenty years before you even saw that walking around in real life), the tech just wasn’t there for Keedoozle to function properly. So despite the automated stores’ dramatically lower prices (10-15% below normal retail, something like Costco or Sam’s Club today except you didn’t have to buy a gallon of bacon bits to get the savings), once the flurry of novelty wore off, Keedoozle was pretty much doomed. When the store wasn’t busy, the machines delivered the wrong items, and it when it was, they blew the hell up and didn’t deliver anything to anybody.
Anyway, I decided to make Memphis continue to lead the world in the advancement of supermarket franchises, for “Finest Kind,” and Keedoozle a hit instead of a flop, that’d evolved by the late sixties into an international chain of supermarkets run by robots.
Coulda happened. Maybe.
And the ads…
“For it’s time for love and kisses when there is to happen the most time glorious time of one’s life. If in one is a heart, let it beat faster. If in one is love, let it be a fire that burns.
“We shall kiss, we shall love, for the new KEEDOOZLE which opens tomorrow, Saturday, will so startle the world that he who is dumb will speak, and he who is deaf will hear.
“Fresh as the dew of a Spring morn, that is KEEDOOZLE. Beautiful beyond all imagination, that is KEEDOOZLE. If you don’t feel like loving and kissing before, you most assuredly will after you see KEEDOOZLE, for it it so dazzles with its beauty that even the stars will blink to behold such brilliance on earth.”