The other day a Panamanian friend asked me why convenience stores are called pulperías in Costa Rica. I realized I didn’t know the answer. After doing some research on the Internet, I’m none the wiser.

This is the kind of thing to which I’m referring.


(I found the photo here)

The Real Academia (Spain’s equivalent of the OED) says the word originated in the Americas. I did find out that the term is used in several other Latin American countries. The most logical (?) theory put forward is that the word derives from pulpo (octopus in Spanish), the idea being that an octopus has many tentacles and pulperías sell a wide variety of items (albeit in very small quantities).

This is a very artistic photo of the interior of a rural pulpería.pulperia(I found the photo here)