If you’ve lived in Florida for awhile, you have probably ventured to many different Publix locations. One of the great things about our favorite grocery chain is that every store is more or less the same. Maybe the bakery is at the front instead of the back, or the produce section is towards the left instead of the right, but the details are the same. It’s the little things you don’t even really notice anymore, like that familiar speckled black and white floor and the giant Toledo scale at the front door.

toledo_dial_scale

What’s the deal with those scales? Every store has one, and it’s always the same model that looks like it could zap you back in time as soon as you step on it. It turns out there’s some history behind the funky contraptions. Back when the first Publix store opened in Lakeland in the 1930s, it wasn’t too common to have a scale at home, but there were plenty around for public use. The problem was that you usually had to cough up a penny for the privilege of weighing yourself. George Jenkins, the founder of Publix, wanted to set his store apart and make the service available for free. He had a big Toledo scale installed in the front entrance of the store and it was a huge hit with customers. When Publix opened in other locations, he made sure each new store had a free scale in it, thus a tradition was born. Even today, the scales are a vital part of the Publix aesthetic.

Although we as a country don’t seem to be as conscious about weight as we once were, the giant scales are always there, looming over the entrance reminding you to make good choices in the aisles. They’re also perfect for weighing your luggage before a flight.