Mom shamed by grocery store cashier for letting her kid eat snacks before paying

Mom talks about being judged at grocery store

In a video posted on her TikTok account with more than 1 million views, “SamanthaMary1989” shared the story of her recent grocery store encounter in Tesco, a grocery store chain in the UK, and how she was totally shamed by an employee for her parenting choices.

The disgruntled mom explained that her son had not been feeling well for a week, and he didn’t want any of the snacks she brought with them from home. When he asked for an item that was put into the car, Samantha said that he hadn’t eaten properly in a week, so she was happy to give him something that he actually would eat at this point. She said he took a shine to the fruit pouch she put in the cart and he asked if he could have it so she obliged.

“Because he had not eaten, I was like, ‘If he wants it, he can have it,’” Samantha said. She also allowed her son to eat a container of yogurt.

Samantha came clean at the checkout, saying that she just wanted to let the cashier know that her son’s eaten these two items while shopping and she just wanted to make sure they were scanned so she could pay for them.

According to Samantha, the employee gave her “the most disgusted look” while she scanned the items and then threw them out. But her child wasn’t finished eating them, and she said, “I’m really sorry but he wasn’t finished with them, I just wanted to pass them to you to make sure they were scanned.”

The clearly irritated employee huffed at her and got them out of the bin and put them on the side and continued to not speak to Samantha, but only gave her glares and huffs and puffs the entire time she’s scanning. So Samantha speaks up.

“Look I’m really sorry, I haven’t meant to upset you or put you out,” she said, “I just passed them to you so that we could make sure you scanned them and to let you know that we’d had them on the way around so that you understood and just didn’t find them in the shop.”

To which the cashier replied, “I just don’t think it’s right that people let their kids eat stuff from the food shop on the way around the shop.”

Samantha then says in the video, “You know that moment when someone really pushed your buttons?” She continued saying the clerk pushed her “mom buttons” and she was suddenly in fight or flight mode.

“I don’t think it’s your job to really give your opinion on what you think. My child hasn’t been well, he hasn’t eaten in a week, so I jumped on the opportunity to give him something he’d eat,” she said. She continued to say there’s nothing wrong with that, and she only passed the items to her to be polite. Then the cashier huffed at her again.

And that’s when Samantha started to cry and was really upset. Then the cashier gave a pitiful half apology and said, she was sorry he’d been ill and that “we’ve all been there.”

I have worked in retail before—for literal decades—but I know I am guilty of this in grocery stores sometimes. When my child is driving me up a wall and he won’t sit still or stay with me and he is complaining loudly how he’s hungry and touching everything in the store and starting to get hangry? Yep. You can bet I’ll give him a few blueberries out of that container so the other shoppers aren’t annoyed by his outbursts and behavior and that I can finish the grocery shopping in peace and everyone else can go about their day. And I avoid the hangry outbursts of a five year old.

Many folks in the comment section of Samantha’s post would call me a thief and say I was stealing. Making the comment that if something happened with her card or she forgot her wallet, she totally was stealing food. Other people (presumably not folks who work in retail) were in Samantha’s defense.

“Can’t believe some of these comments. I’ve done this for my daughter and even my husband has done this for himself if he’s going low (diabetic),” one person said. “I used to work at Tesco, I never minded kids eating food as long as the parents paid for it. I have had adults, however, eat before paying. A grown adult can wait 5 minutes, a kid can’t always,” said another.

So what say you? Do you let your kids snack on items in the grocery store to keep the peace before purchasing?  Is it theft? Is it parental survival? You be the judge.

A version of this story was originally published on Jan. 9. 2024. It has been updated.