BY ANNIE CULVER
Scouting for a quick dinner fix at Trader Joe’s, there it was—a refrigerated section of cheeseburger burritos with dill pickle relish.
“How would that taste?” I mumbled with a scrunched-up nose.
Just a week later, a couple of family members raved about a dill pickle salad they’d each bought on trips to Costco.
What’s with the sudden surge in dill pickle delectables? The first was burrito heresy. Although this novelty didn’t taste half bad, the vote on the home front was one-and-done. The lure of the pickle salad, with family endorsements from women in their 60s, could be a sign that tastes for retail purchases continue to change.
Some evolutions would’ve been unfathomable years ago. Take nonfat sour cream or meatless meatballs. How could any type of cream be considered nonfat? Or meatballs be meatballs without meat? Yet oxymoronic nonfat sour cream and meatless meatballs don’t get a shrug from today’s grocery shoppers who have health in mind.
Eggs used to come from chickens raised in coops. Back then chicken feed was anything goes (because chickens weren’t particular about what they ate). Today, many varieties of eggs are from free-range hens, pasture-raised, and sustainably farmed with regenerative practices. Wait! There are also eggs from cage-free, vegetarian chickens—similar, if not the same.
Even dog treats today are labeled sustainable and hypoallergenic, including those with crickets or grubs.
Soft drinks have some mighty sharp marketing strategists, too. Fit Soda, surprisingly, comes in a root beer, vanilla float flavor. For a couple months now, on the top shelf in my fridge—daring me to pop it open—is a 12-ounce can of organic, sparkling, ginger-lemon, apple cider vinegar beverage that insists it only has a tablespoon of vinegar. What possessed me to buy it? Will I be scared into dumping it without ever tasting it?
Once you start thinking about how modern-day marketing continues to evolve (thanks to Metropolitan Market for details of some of the items included here), it’s tempting for a boomer to choose new products with glib and even defiant names like Fatso Peanut Butter and Counter Culture Coffee’s “big trouble” variety.
Discerning what’s authentic and what’s not is a little like that Dr. Seuss classic, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose,” Dr. Seuss wrote. “You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
And that led me to discover changes that don’t have much to do with what you’ve just read, although the topics might sound familiar.
For instance, at last the U.S. Postal Service recognizes that well-mannered people send thank-you notes by what’s called snail mail. This past Christmas, USPS added a postage stamp in beautiful gold cursive script that says, “Thank You.”
Then there’s the head scratcher that deserves a hearty guffaw, demure snicker, or a tsk, tsk, if you’re so inclined. Visit either Saks Fifth Avenue or Nordstrom and you’ll discover they now sell vibrators, among them one that’s a bit startling. The Crave Vesper Vibrator Necklace—with its Yves Saint Laurent signature—is quite the unexpected fashion statement. It’s described as sleek, quiet, with four speeds. (No returns permitted, though.)
“The concept of a vibrator that looks like a necklace is a stroke of genius!” was how one reviewer described this pricey rechargeable jewelry that comes in silver, rose gold, and gold. How were Saks and Nordstrom convinced to step beyond their comfort zones and align with sex toys? Get jiggy with what’s considered a burgeoning lifestyle industry, folks. Nordstrom calls it the Intimacy and Sexual Wellness Section.
All this is a quantum leap from a cheeseburger burrito with dill pickle relish.
Maybe it’s time to break out the dill pickle salad.
Annie Culver developed a knack for unearthing oddball characters and improbable events as a staff writer for various newspapers. In the early 90s, she went to work for websites where she wrote sassy essays aimed at women. In recent years, she morphed into a writer for several universities in the Northwest. She retired in 2016, yet still enjoys freelancing.