Features We Don't Need: Grocery Hooks

Groceries are an inevitable part of life, but car grocery hooks aren't a part of mine. They may serve a purpose, but I find them problematic. Of late, the most pressing reason why has been one of practicality: Where I live, I'm charged 10 cents for every disposable bag I get from the store, so I use reusable grocery bags. And with their typically longer handles, those bags don't fit on most cars' grocery hooks.

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Across the nation, many cities and counties have imposed fees for plastic or paper bags you get from the store, and this year California, Massachusetts, Washington state and Puerto Rico have pending legislation that could ban single-use bags, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Toyota spokesman Sam Butto maintains grocery hooks remain a useful option for many people; the automaker doesn't discuss future product details, but Butto said it may try to improve the hooks to accommodate a greater variety of bags.

Another issue I have with grocery hooks is one of time and convenience. On a typical grocery run, I walk out of the store with an average of eight bags carrying supplies for my family of five. There are typically two grocery hooks in a car's rear cargo area, and I never have the time or wherewithal to sift through those bags, assess which contain the most fragile items, then put the bags with delicate packages onto the hooks. Load-and-go is how I operate.

I realize that there are people who may purchase fewer groceries, enabling them to easily use the grocery hooks. I'm also certain there are people who don't live by the load-and-go motto — people who want to (and have time to) sift through their bags. However, I know I'm not alone in my load-and-go lifestyle. People have to do what works for them.

Many family cars also have grocery hooks on the backs of the front seats (photo above, though it's being used for a tiny purse). I never think to put groceries there, but apparently I'm unusual on this front. Dodge spokesman Patrick Hepsen said most of the Dodge lineup includes two grocery hooks on the back of each front seat in addition to those in the rear because research indicates that people often put grocery bags behind the front seat, especially when they have only a few bags. Perhaps I did that before I had kids, but I can hardly remember anything from those days. I now try to avoid the backseat altogether; there are too many children there.

I wrote about purse hooks not long ago, similarly arguing their obsolescence. Although some people agreed with me, there were many savvy readers who enlightened me with tales of using the purse hooks for takeout (no spills!) or an in-car trash bag (handy!). Perhaps people have clever uses for grocery hooks, as well. Can they be employed as hangers for in-car plants? Hooks to showcase your children's artwork? How do you use your grocery hooks?

Share your tips in the comment section below.

Cars.com photos by Courtney Messenbaugh and Kristin Varela

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