Of Kim Kardashian, Seaweed and Juneteenth

June 1, 2022
Sometimes the news comes so thick and fast that all you can do is sit back and marvel. And make snarky comments, of course.

Sometimes the news comes so thick and fast that all you can do is sit back and marvel. And make snarky comments, of course.

Kim Kardashian Did Too Eat in That Beyond Meat Commercial

Beyond Meat has had its problems. It has chronically lost money, has been embroiled in lawsuits, and has had issues in ramping up production. Beyond didn’t need the negativity that came when Kim Kardashian made a 30-second TV spot for them in which she proclaimed herself to be Beyond’s “chief taste consultant”...but appeared not to actually eat any of the stuff. Sure, her mouth was moving, but you never saw any food actually going into it.

Critics jumped all over this with online comments like “it’s so good you don’t even have to eat it.” At least Krusty the Clown of “The Simpsons” put the Krustyburger in his mouth before spitting it out off-camera. (“I almost swallowed some of the juice!”)

Well, Kardashian, who seems like a good sport, promptly posted outtakes from the commercial shoot – video and stills proving that she did in fact eat the Beyond Meat products. If only Beyond’s supply chain problems could be solved so easily.

Seaweed Ain’t Gonna Happen (I Don’t Think)

About a dozen years ago, the Corn Refiners Association tried to spiff up the image of high-fructose corn syrup by renaming it “corn sugar.” I thought of that effort, which went nowhere, when I saw this item about someone wanting to dub seaweed “sea forest” to make it more palatable as a food source.

Seaweed, of course, is already a culinary ingredient in some Asian cuisines. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things in Asian cuisine that don’t translate well to Western tastes. The man who’s trying to rename the stuff “sea forest,” Vincent Doumeizel, acknowledged that it’s an acquired taste, suggesting that people use a small amount “like pepper or salt” to get used to it.

Doumeizel, who consults with the United Nations on food issues and has written a book called “The Seaweed Revolution,” is a true believer but at the same time a realist. Sort of. He claims that seaweed can be used as animal feed and that if every cow in the world was fed 100 grams of it a day, it would cut methane emissions in an amount “equivalent to stopping each and every car and truck on the planet.” It could also be used, he says, to make biodegradable packaging polymers.

I don’t know how practical those applications are, but I’d say they’re probably just as practical as turning Americans into enthusiastic seaweed eaters. On the other hand, what do I know. Considering how mankind has been eating its way over the years down the marine food chain, with species like squid going from bait to “calamari,” seaweed might end up becoming a delicacy, if we all get hungry enough.

Juneteenth: It’s Not About Ice Cream

A Jewish friend of mine still sighs inaudibly when well-meaning Gentiles wish him “a happy Yom Kippur,” but he’s given up trying to explain to them that Yom Kippur is a day of atonement – a somber occasion with nothing happy about it.

When you’re a major corporation, however, it pays to be a little more cognizant of the holidays you’re talking about – especially in the age of social media.

That’s what Walmart found out when it introduced Juneteenth Ice Cream as part of its Great Value private label brand. Juneteenth, of course, is the holiday commemorating the end of slavery in America; it marks the occasion, on June 19, 1865, when a Union general informed what was thought to be the last bunch of slaves in America that they were free.

It turns out that using “Juneteenth” of a flavor of red velvet cheesecake ice cream didn’t sit too well with some folks. An organization that specializes in diversity pointed out that this was a little like putting out ice cream flavors that commemorated the end of the Holocaust or of the Rwandan genocide. It especially stuck in some craws that the packaging featured a TM symbol after “Juneteenth,” which made it look like the ultimate act of co-optation.

Apparently this all worked. Walmart apologized, and Juneteenth Ice Cream seems to have been scrubbed from its website. Presumably, plans for Yom Kippur Yummies have also been put on hold.

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