Main Character of the Week is a weekly column that tells you the most prominent “main character” online (good or bad). It runs on Fridays in the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter. If you want to get this column a day before we publish it, subscribe to web_crawlr, where you’ll get the daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox.
The internet is a stage, and someone unwillingly stumbles onto it weekly. This makes them the “main character” online. Sometimes their story is heartwarming, like the man who tried to fundraise on behalf of a shorted Olive Garden server; usually it’s a gaffe. In any case, that main character energy flows through the news cycle and turbo-charges debate for several business days.
Here’s the Trending team’s main character of the week.
It’s the people who actually like snacks from TJ Maxx and Marshalls.
These strip-mall staples spark passion if you grew up buying discounted replica jerseys of NFL players at Ross who had just left their teams like Jerome Bettis on the Rams or Aeneas Williams on the Cardinals. Who can forget the joy of opening a Cleveland Browns Starter jacket on Christmas morning during the years that the franchise did not exist? Or maybe you fondly recall getting a grab-bag of stocking stuffers curated from the TJ Maxx checkout aisle.
Shopping here is about class solidarity, empathy for the way we get by as Americans, and flat-out good deals. But their snacks continue to carry a stigma.
How long has that Ghirardelli peppermint bark been out? If the gist of these outlets is that they offer discount brand clothing, isn’t the food just stale inventory from 2016?
They say it’s “gourmet” and they aren’t wrong. As Bon Appetit reports: “Contrary to the assumption that T. J. Maxx sells overstock or discards from fancy foods stores, like Williams-Sonoma or Macy’s, T. J. Maxx often acquires items that are specially produced just for them… Every manufacturer I spoke to said that T. J. Maxx orders a high quantity from their sources so they can buy at the lowest price. T. J. Maxx, sadly, guards their sourcing like a trade secret and declined to comment for this story.”
That would explain why a woman went viral recently for claiming to have spent three years trying to find pumpkin spice cookies from Pedigree that she bought at Marshalls and detailed as life-changing.
It began a long-simmering conversation: Wait, people actually like snacks from TJ Maxx?
As we reported, this inspired others to come forward and pine for lost strip mall snacks:
“The sweet plantain chips that I haven’t seen in 2 years,” one TikTok viewer commented.
“HAVE YALL EVER TRIED DEM SKINNY LENTIL THAT DISAPPEARED. pls tell me yall know what im talking bout,” a second remarked.
“Those cow melon chew things i got from burlington in 2021 omfg,” a third said.
Elsewhere, a more critical shopper called out the store’s selection of Baileys chocolates, writing that people who like these TJ Maxx snacks should be “locked in a room n studied.” This riled up the Snack Hive, which defended shopping for food here as joyful “chaos.”
It’s an evergreen topic that will continue to spark passions. As TikToker @brofan1ty infamously noted almost a year ago: “All the snacks at T.J. Maxx gotta be historic. That stuff don’t look right.”
We’ve reached out to Marshalls and TJ Maxx about their snacks.