It’s no secret that the Neiman Marcus holiday catalog — which once advertised his and hers helicopters as the perfect Christmas present — is like catnip for the nouveau riche who have no idea how to spend their piles of money. But this year, the luxury retailer may have just taken it too far with their decision to take a cheap southern food staple (steeped in history) and sell it for around 80 bucks, once you factor in shipping.
In real life you can purchase a pack of collard greens (available at your local Safeway, Walmart, and Whole Foods) for about four dollars. But Neiman Marcus has decided that it may be too much work for you to buy them yourself, find an easy recipe to cook them online, and then prepare them for your holiday meal. So they’re selling 48 ounces of the stuff (cooked and frozen, ready to heat and serve) for $66 before shipping. $66. You could buy enough collard greens from your local neighborhood market to last the entire winter for that amount of money. And then you could just burn the $15 bucks you’d spend on shipping — because god knows you’re not going to need any more collards.
According to The Washington Post, people are amused at best and befuddled at worst because the idea of taking a food that’s historically been considered cheap, and turning it into a luxury experience is just so strange that there’s not even any room for upset:
“I was like, ‘Whaaaat?’” said Nicole Taylor, author of “The Up South Cookbook.” “A lot of things ran through my head. The first was, I need to call and tell my mom that they are selling collard greens for $80.”
She couldn’t help but be amused: “The food that was considered poor people’s food, or Southern food, or black food, is now being advertised and sold by a luxury brand,” she said. “I‘ve heard people from the South say that they were ashamed that their family cooked collard greens.”
Other food experts also chimed in — pointing out that a) greens were often seen as non-special foods that were served only if people couldn’t afford something better on the holidays and, b) that it was wrong of Neiman Marcus not to acknowledge the dish’s cultural heritage when trying to sell it at a markup.
“Really, they don’t understand the cultural nuances behind greens and what that brings up?” said Taylor, who wishes that Neiman Marcus would have given a nod to the dish’s origins in the catalogue listing. “They should do a better job if they’re going to sell foods that are tied to people’s ethnicity and culture. They need to do some nice copywriting.”
The bad news? Everyone apparently fell for it! According to NPR, the collard greens have sold out. They are done! Out of there! (although it’s not clear whether the greens were too in demand or just pulled; the site says the product is now “unavailable.”)