America's largest retailer may also be one of its most accurate barometers -- telling us what we eat, drink, listen to and wear.
Each year some 208 million Americans shop at Wal-Mart. To put that figure into perspective, that's double the number of people who turned out to vote in the last presidential election. Think the Super Bowl gets a lot of attention? Only 93 million tuned in to last year's top sports event.
In all, 90 percent of the American population turns to Wal-Mart at some point for everything from food and clothing to pet, home and entertainment needs, making Wal-Mart a good indicator of who we are as a society.
You've heard the saying, you are what you eat. But did you know what you eat is largely dependant on where you live?
Odds are if you're waking up in the Northeast this morning, you're toasting a bagel right now. If you're in Austin, Texas, you're opting for a doughnut. While most Americans buy white eggs, Northeasterners prefer them brown.
John Fleming, Wal-Mart's executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, said it should be no surprise that Wal-Mart reflects who we are as a nation.
"The Wal-Mart shopper is really everybody in America. We have 138 million customers who shop in our store every week," Fleming said.
We Love Snacks
So what products are you likely to see in a shopping cart today?
A lot of frozen foods. As the work day grows longer and more women enter the work force, Americans' time to prepare their meals is all but gone.
Wal-Mart says frozen pizza sales have increased 12 times in the past 10 years. But frozen food no longer has to mean bad for you.
America is a nation that's increasingly health conscious, and that's reflected in the products lining the frozen food aisles in Wal-Mart stores across the nation.
Sales of steamable vegetables and readymade, low-fat meals are on the rise. When it comes to fruit and vegetables, we prefer ours fresh.
The No. 1 selling item in the entire store may surprise you -- bananas!
A whopping 390,000 miles worth of bananas are sold each year at Wal-Mart. That's enough bananas to circle Earth 16 times.
We also love our snack foods, from 100-calorie snack packs to breakfasts on the go. One of our favorite comfort foods is Pop-Tarts. Wal-Mart also sends crates of Pop-Tarts to areas hit hard by natural disasters.
Wal-Mart's research said that most Americans wash down those Pop-Tarts with 2 percent milk, however, those living in Southeastern states more often opt for whole milk.
While Boston may have had its tea party, when it comes to a tea lover's state, Pennsylvania wins hands down. Its residents drink five times more tea than anyone else.
Saturday remains the most popular day of the week to shop. The first of the month, after the paycheck's been cashed, remains the most popular time to shop.
And while the day after Thanksgiving remains the top shopping day of the year, it looks as if a lot of us are waiting until the last minute to do our holiday shopping. The second most popular shopping day of the year is Dec. 23 followed closely by Dec. 22.
Boxers or Briefs?
Each day, Wal-Mart's 118 distribution centers across the country send out 300,000 boxes full of products destined for store shelves.
Electronics are the hottest items these days. Five years ago, the top-selling television at Wal-Mart was a 25-inch analog TV. Today, it's all about the 32-inch flat screen.
Ohio buys the most TVs overall. That may be because the Buckeye State is a sports lover's paradise -- home to eight Division I college teams and NBA wunderkind Lebron James.
Aside from food and sports, Americans also love their pets. When it comes to the top dog lover's states, look West. New Mexico, Wyoming and California lead the nation in annual dog food purchases.
Maine is the state for cat lovers -- it leads the nation in spending on cat food.
The average female shopper at Wal-Mart is a size 14 who wears a size 8½ shoe. The average man's shoe size is a 10½.
And Wal-Mart even knows the answer to that age-old question: boxers or briefs?
It turns out that after years of briefs being in the lead, boxers and briefs are tied. There are regional differences, though. Southern men, for example, prefer boxers.
When it comes to how we dress overall, casual is the way to go.
"As a nation, as a culture, people dress more casually today than they did 15 years ago, and that will continue," Fleming said.
Sadly, though, we may be more health conscious. We're also a nation that's getting fatter, faster.
Thirty percent of boys and girls age 9 to 12 are shopping in the men's and women's departments, according to Wal-Mart.
And back-to-school time means that the sale of acne products skyrocket.
Perhaps the biggest indicator of where we're going as a society is spike in sales of multicultural products -- ethnic foods and Latin music -- all reflectors of our increasingly diverse nation.