What? Ch-ch-ch Chia Seeds?
If you didn’t have a Chia Pet at some point growing up, then you were denied a normal childhood (unless you’re from the Bay Area, where owning a Chia Pet would have denied you the “hipster” label for life). These lovable terra-cotta figurines, which have spanned the animal kingdom from hippos and gnomes to Newt Gingrich and Barack Obama, brightened up many a room with their fast-growing chlorophyll afros.
After almost 40 years of selling these equally coveted and mocked figurines, Joseph Enterprises, the keeper of Chia Pets, has entered the health food business. The company has finally started to market chia seeds. And not just any chia seeds: Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Seeds!
Naturally the question comes up of why Joseph Enterprises waited so long to market the seeds in addition to their iconic ceramic menagerie. After all, chia seeds have joined the lofty status on par with quinoa and goji berries, displacing the passé superfoods of yesterday such as flax seeds and tofu. But this is also a company that has made a mint selling other products including the Clapper, Pogo Whisk and Ove Glove. So while the adjacency appears a bit odd at first, the company’s track record bodes well for these tiny slick seeds.
As the testimonials show, chia seeds are a nutritional jackpot: rich Omega-3’s, calcium and fiber are among the nutrients these prized little seeds boast. And, unlike farmed salmon and fish oil capsules often processed from dubious sources, they are vegan. Their taste is pretty benign, too. Like those tapioca balls plunked in boba teas, they also have a slimy texture when wet, but are far more healthful and are easier to chug down.
So what Joseph Enterprises missed in timing will be compensated by the market they will corner. While chia seeds have long been in the corner health food store, and then of course scaled thanks to the likes of Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and even Costco, the market for Joseph Enterprises’ new product has its crosshairs on a slightly different consumer base.
Just watch the television commercial and you will see: Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Seeds are directed at the same folks who would pick up a Chia Pet at the neighborhood store. They are available at chains such as Walgreen’s and the big box stores Target and Walmart. Whether their sales will perform well at stores more known for Russell Stover candies and Red Vines remains to be seen, but in a country where obesity and related health problems are on the upswing, this is a trend much welcomed.
So what was once a niche product has become mainstream, and prices are increasing. Originating from South and Central America, entrepreneurs are trying to grow chia in North America — and, as the Wall Street Journal has recently profiled, chia is now growing in Kentucky’s Bluegrass Country. A new cash crop would certainly be welcome by farmers — and could skirt controversies that have plagued popular foods like quinoa, which have boosted farmers’ incomes but have become priced out of range for many people whose families relied on them for centuries.
Image credit: Joseph Enterprises