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When Pat Curry spotted bite-sized wood-fire rotisserie chicken with portabella mushroom at her local Costco in early June, she felt "giddy." After a 14-month hiatus, free samples were back.

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If we were judging based on appearance alone, this entry would win. It has a distinctive, wide-shouldered jar and simple gold cap. The label is small and understated, with "Michael's of Brooklyn" written in cursive. The minimal real estate devoted to the label allows shoppers to see the full glory of bright, intensely red sauce.

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Smart shopper @teresalauracaruso is known for scouring Amazon for the best products available, so it’s no surprise she found what might be the coolest toaster on earth. The touchscreen smart toaster from Revolution has different settings for anything you’d toast including breakfast pastries, waffles, bagels, and English muffins.

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One thing that can be attributed to the pandemic was a surge in online car shopping. This was the year that buying cars, just like buying everything else, went online in a big way.

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More people adopted puppies and kittens during the pandemic, and stores are pouncing to cash in. Petco is selling matching pajamas for dogs and their humans with snowflakes and Christmas trees. And Chewy, the online pet store, is getting more personal, inscribing pets names into bandanas, bowls or beds.

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It’s not just frenzied crowds that will be absent this holiday season. So will impulse shopping — the practice of throwing in extra items like toys or bath balms as shoppers go in and out of the aisles.

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