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I was with a friend at a South Carolina Publix last year. We walked in, she looked around, and then asked someone where the scale was? They didn’t have one. Turns out that’s a strictly FLA affair:

The scales have actually been there since Publix founder George Jenkins opened his first “food palace” Publix in 1940. At the time, the only opportunity to weigh yourself was at the doctor, or maybe by finding a coin-operated scale. Jenkins offered it as a free service, and it stuck.

That original Publix scale still works. It now sits in the late founder’s old corporate office, where new associates see it when they take tours.

The model No. 2830 people weigher found in a new Publix today is identical to the ones the old Toledo Scale company started manufacturing in Ohio around 1950. Mettler Toledo, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Switzerland, now makes industrial equipment, precision lab instruments and high-tech scale components. But for decades, they kept manufacturing the low-tech, but reliable, people weighers for Publix, essentially the only company that wanted them.

In a 1988 feature in the Orlando Sentinel, writer Donna Bouffard, with the help of store employees in Winter Park, identified seven recurring categories of scale users, including “pickpockets,” who set aside keys, change and wallets,” “bashfuls,” who go to great lengths to make sure nobody is looking, “hoppers,” who leap on in a single bound, and “mechanics,” who insist this thing must be broken.

Now you know, if you ever wanted to. I thought it was a So. Tampa thing as just about all the customers are in shape and would want to confirm that metrologically. Maybe it’s all just as well. At that one SC store, there would be a lot of scale mechanics…


Usually right up front. Martha Asencio Rhine/ TB Times.