What happened: The wife of the Soviet premier stopped into Snyders for some bubble gum.


When: June 3, 1990.


Just dropping in: It wasn’t the most earthshaking news of the day, but perhaps the most down-to-earth — and Minnesotan.

While on a visit to our fair state with her husband, Mikhail Gorbachev, general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Raisa Gorbachev took an unscheduled detour. She was on her way to meet a Typical American Family in Minneapolis. But en route, she stopped at Snyders Drug at 46th St. and Nicollet Av. S.

“She fingered nail polish,” according to a newspaper account, “inquired about a Snickers candy bar and examined a jar of macadamia nuts.” Lola Perpich, wife of Gov. Rudy Perpich, was accompanying Raisa and explained: “She just wanted to look, and I think she bought her grandchildren some bubble gum.”

Raisa also walked into Pepito’s, a nearby Mexican restaurant, and chatted with enchilada eaters until it was time to meet the Typical American Family, the Watsons, who lived at 48th and Garfield.


Drugstores and democracy: Gorbachev would be out of a job in a year and a half, when the Soviet Union dissolved. Raisa, who had made the cover of Time magazine, died in 1999. Snyders is gone, as well, but the chain lasted 82 years, eight years longer than the USSR. Pepito’s closed in December.

The Snyders that Raisa visited is now a Dollar Tree store.