The Untold Truth Of Harris Teeter

What's there not to love about Harris Teeter? The fresh produce, the wide variety of bakery products, and of course, its lovable mascot, Harry the happy dragon. If you've ever had the chance to shop in a Harris Teeter, there's a possibility you haven't thought too much about the company itself: It has the groceries you're looking for, or it doesn't. We don't think too much about the stores we shop in — it all becomes pretty routine after a while, and we don't blame you if you don't know every little thing about the stores you shop in.

When it comes to Harris Teeter, however, there is a lot of interesting information that might peak your interest. Within this article, you will find out not only who helped found the well-known store, but also where it is primarily located, what the employees think of it, and even what happened to its delicious, free, and very much missed sugar cookies. Here are some of the untold truths of Harris Teeter, so the next time a bright, smiling green dragon greets you on your way into the store, you'll know a bit more about the place where you are shopping for your groceries.

Harris Teeter started as not one, but two grocery stores

Many stores, restaurants, and chains have founders who took something they loved and rolled with it. The two brothers who started up Dominos are one example. Harris Teeter was also founded by two men, though they didn't start off by opening a store together. Instead, they had two separate stores. Willis L. Teeter came first, opening up a grocery store called Teeters Food Mart with his brother, Paul (as per North Carolina History). The store opened in Mooresville, North Carolina, in 1939, the same year the Great Depression was coming to a close.

Ten years later, W.T. Harris, the other man behind Harris Teeter, opened his own grocery store in Charlotte, North Carolina, under the name of Harris Super Market. In February 1960, both stores merged to form Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc. (via Company Histories). The pair opened 15 stores together, and from there, the Harris Teeter name grew. This also reveals how Harris Teeter got its name by putting together the last names of the two men who founded the grocery chain. Even though it's not the most creative way to go about naming the store, Harris Teeter has definitely become a name to be remembered.

The chain has pulled some controversial products from shelves

Harris Teeter is known for having loads of useful and wonderful products on its shelves — produce, pastries, frozen foods, and even items like nail polish and cleaning products. You can find it all at Harris Teeter, but some items that have appeared on store shelves have brought a bit of controversy along with their price tags. In June 2022, Harris Teeter had a few products that caught some people's attention — and no, we aren't talking about broken cookies, rotting fruit, or moldy bread. These items were so controversial that they were pulled from store shelves.

As noted by WBTV, gun-themed koozies showed up on some Harris Teeter shelves. One of the koozies had a bald eagle perched on a rifle and the words "Give me liberty or give me death," while the other had Thomas Jefferson carrying a rifle in one hand and a scroll with the Second Amendment in the other. According to NBC Charlotte, these koozies became controversial as they were seen to be supporting gun rights. After a tweet about these products, Harris Teeter was quick to take the items off of its shelves.

The chain operates only in the southeastern U.S.

Even though the Harris Teeter chain is certainly well known in terms of grocery stores, it isn't the most widespread. In fact, there's likely a larger number of people in the U.S. who haven't shopped in a Harris Teeter compared with those who have. This is because the Harris Teeter chain doesn't operate outside of one particular part of the country. While there are loads of people around there, that doesn't mean Harris Teeter stores are available to everyone just yet. It isn't uncommon enough to be considered a "small" grocery chain, though it isn't as big as a Walmart or Aldi.

Harris Teeter stores can be primarily found across the southeastern portion of the U.S. (via That means if you want to shop at this chain, you'd have to be in states like Delaware, Florida, or Maryland. You'll have an easier time finding the chain in some states than others, however. According to Scrapehero, the three states that have the most Harris Teeters are North Carolina as well as Virginia and South Carolina — which makes sense, seeing as Harris Teeter was founded in this region. You may not find them all over the place, but if you do get the chance to go to a Harris Teeter, you'll find some pretty great products.

The chain used to have free sugar cookies at the front of each store

There is something many kids might remember about Harris Teeter if they grew up going to get groceries at the chain with their parents. You might even remember it if you've gone as an adult and seen the small stand at the entrance of each location with two trays of the sweet, sensational delight. For a while, you could get free sugar cookies from Harris Teeter. A stand with Harry the Happy Dragon, the grocery store's mascot, was always waiting with two bins of sugar cookies, one regular and a more low-fat version (via Facebook).

These cookies were a wonderful way to keep kids calm while their parents shopped or even enjoyed a sweet treat for themselves — however, it seems that the cookies have disappeared from many, if not all, of the Harris Teeter stores. Many people seemed to notice their disappearance around the time that COVID-19 pandemic began. Threads on Reddit lament that they miss these fantastic cookies and hope that they return to stores. Even now, many stores don't offer the free sugar cookies anymore (as per Twitter) — but hey, at least we could always make our own cookies at home.

Harris Teeter has worked with a well-known college to combat food insecurity

Grocery-store chains are known for collaborating with charities to raise money for various causes — few can say they've ever been to a checkout without being asked if they want to round their bill up by donating an extra few cents to a charity. Even outside of this, grocery stores like Harris Teeter donate to help various charities. Harris Teeter partnered in February 2022 with a well-known college in order to help combat food insecurity. Howard University, located in Washington D.C., announced the collaboration with the grocery-store chain in order to assist in its hunger-relief efforts.

According to The Dig, the Harris Teeter chain committed to donating $50,000 to Howard University's food pantry over a five-year time span. Paige Pauroso, the communication specialist for Harris Teeter, stated that her company is aware that many people who are struggling with food are college students, so giving those students an outlet to get healthy, delicious foods is incredibly important (via HBCU News). Furthermore, it was noted that this commitment was a part of a greater goal of Harris Teeter to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Employees of Harris Teeter have had varied experiences with the chain

When you work at a grocery store, everything isn't going to be perfect — you may have to put up with long hours, difficult customers, and exhausting tasks all day long. On the other hand, working at a grocery store lets you interact with different people, dress presentably, and take care of various tasks while earning money. Depending on where you live, you may be surrounded by Harris Teeters and wonder whether or not it's a good store to work at compared with other grocery stores in your area.

When compared to Aldi, Harris Teeter's pay isn't as favorable, and one former employee referenced getting short breaks after being on their feet for a while (via Glassdoor). On the other hand, when compared to working at a Safeway, other than a difference in the pay, there isn't really a huge difference. Some employees do have stories from working at the grocery store, such as being given 200 $1 bills by a customer (via Her Campus), but honestly, we can't think of any grocery store that doesn't have its downs in terms of a job.

COVID-19 hit the grocery chain hard

We've already hit upon how the chain stopped selling its delicious sugar cookies after COVID-19 hit the world, but it wasn't just the sweets that the pandemic hurt in terms of Harris Teeter. In order to ensure customers remained healthy, the chain had to cut hours in order to spend more time focusing on restocking products as well as cleaning up in stores (via WYDaily News). Harris Teeter also had to limit the number of shoppers who could be in a store at once to uphold and maintain social distancing practices (via Wavy). Fewer hours and fewer customers are things a store never wants.

That wasn't all that Harris Teeter had to face, however. Labor shortages became common across the country, and the grocery-store chain had its share of struggles — another reason why it had to cut back hours (via Despite these problems, the Harris Teeter chain was still determined to help those in need. A PR Newswire article announced that company would be donating over 640,000 pounds of protein and produce to local community members as the COVID-19 pandemic rampaged through the area. Even though COVID-19 impacted everyone, it's good to know that some relief was provided, and some of that came from Harris Teeter.

Harris Teeter falls under the Kroger brand

Harris Teeter may not be a store that's all over the place, but it falls under a store chain that does seem to be around every corner: Kroger. The chain has been around a lot longer than you think, and even though Harris Teeter hasn't always been a subsidiary to the Kroger brand, Kroger itself has been around for a long time now. It only makes sense that it would eventually encompass Harris Teeter as well — which it did in 2013 (via CNBC). As shown on the online page for the grocery chain, Harris Teeter is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Kroger Company, and the chain has done a lot under the larger company.

One of the more notable things Harris Teeter has done under the Kroger name is hold massive giveaways. In 2021, Kroger, as well as all of the stores that fell under its ownership, held a $5 million giveaway, with someone winning $1 million each week for five weeks, as well as 10 winners who received groceries for a year (via Harris Teeter). While Harris Teeter is certainly a successful grocery store chain on its own by several measures, if being under the Kroger brand allows it to do stuff like this, then we aren't complaining.

The grocery-store chain has grown a lot since its founding and is continuing to do so

Harris Teeter has come a long way from the two independently owned grocery stores that its founders started out with, or even the 15 locations that it opened after they merged. At the start of 2021, the company had 260 locations (via Webscraping), and that number has grown since then. As of September 2022, the chain has opened another seven locations across the southeast, according to Scrapehero. This might not seem like much on paper, but seven new locations in just under two years is quite the accomplishment, especially considering the issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though the pandemic slowed many companies down quite a bit, Harris Teeter is a chain that has plans to continue its growth. Just recently, the chain opened a fuel center in Concord, North Carolina (via WCCB). According to the article, the company owns over 60 of these fuel centers across the southeast, so not only do they have groceries, but they have fuel as well. Harris Teeter even has a rewards program for its fuel — and while rewards programs aren't anything new, the fact that those points are able to be used at their own fuel centers is pretty impressive. While Harris Teeter has had many ups and downs over the past few years, it seems like things are definitely turning toward greatness for the grocery chain.

Harris Teeter communities care about their employees

Like we said before, no job is perfect. You're bound to have some issues with the grocery store or restaurant you work for — but that doesn't mean everything about it is awful. In fact, some employees can have a wonderful time at their workplace, and that includes some people who have worked at Harris Teeter. When people work at a store for so long, they become a part of that community, in a way, and when they have to leave, it's a bittersweet occasion. In fact, when one Harris Teeter employee was leaving his position at the grocery store, the community came together to give him a proper, well-deserved sendoff.

After working at a Harris Teeter location for 23 years, Tim McCloud announced he was moving to a store closer to his home. As part of his job bagging groceries, he was friendly and kind to other members of his community, so when they found out he was leaving that Harris Teeter and transferring to another one, they came together and raised $26,000 to thank him (as per WRAL). While not every employee will have this grand of a sendoff, it's nice to see just how much a community can care for each other, even for an employee at a Harris Teeter.