How stupid, lazy, and wasteful have we become?
There’s a Trader Joe’s store walking distance from my Phoenix office. Sometimes, in the middle of the day, when I need a break, I take Charlie Dog for a walk over there, buy a few things, and come back. Yesterday was one of those days.
I have mixed feelings about Trader Joe’s. I think their merchandise falls into three evenly divided categories: great, meh, and horrible. Every time I try something new that I’ve bought there, I can assign one of those categories to it. And despite what many loyal Trader Joe’s customers apparently think, there’s an awful lot in that last category: products to simply avoid because they suck. Still, people rave about the place. I go there because of the things that are great; the fact that it’s the closest place to get milk, eggs, and butter; and because going there is a good excuse to take a walk in the middle of the day.
Yesterday, however, I saw something there that not only floored me, but it reminded me of how stupid and lazy American shoppers have become.
I’m talking about the Guacamole kit.
As shown in this unfortunate photo — unfortunate because I snapped it with a man standing behind it, making the sign look as if it has legs and I really should know better (sheesh) — Trader Joe’s sells a “Guacamole Kit” for $4. It also sells 4 avocados for $3. On the same table.
I looked at the Guacamole Kit. It came in a plastic box — you know, the kind you might buy “box-o-lettuce” or some other kind of fresh produce in. It contained the following items:
- 2 avocados
- 1 roma tomato
- 1 jalapeño pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 shallot
- 1 lime
I know this because I took a picture of the box, too. The label not only lists the ingredients, but it provides instructions on how to assemble these things into guacamole.
Wow. It’s such a good thing that Trader Joe’s puts these difficult-to-find-and-grasp ingredients in one handy box. I’m sure there are people all over the world denying themselves the joy of fresh guacamole because they simply lack the skills to gather six ingredients — half of which they might already have in their refrigerator — without getting lost in the produce aisle. And those instructions! The absolute key to success! Who knew that the avocado had to be peeled first? But wait! The recipe calls for salt and there was no salt in the box! Oh, no! What do I do?
I see this as a way for Trader Joe’s — obviously a smart operation, given the way so many shoppers revere them — to cash in on the laziness and stupidity of its shoppers. People who would rather let Trader Joe’s pack whatever ingredients they need into a plastic box than spend an extra 2 minutes picking out the ingredients, making sure everything was unblemished and ripe. (I don’t know about you, but I like to gently squeeze an avocado to test for ripeness, especially if I plan to eat it within the next 24 hours.) People who can’t be bothered to think for themselves.
Which is possible, given the high percentage of Trader Joe’s shoppers who are on their freaking cells phones while they shop.
Maybe that’s the target market. Cell phone shoppers.
If people actually buy these kits, it’s genius on the part of Trader Joe’s marketing wonks. After all, they’ve put produce with a retail value of about $2.50 (if purchased separately) into a plastic box and can get people to pay 60% more. In other words, people are paying $1.50 extra for the plastic box and a label with a recipe.
And how many of those organic-food-loving Trader Joe’s shoppers do you think will actually recycle that box?
It’s stupid and wasteful.
But it’s an indicator of how lazy the people in this country have become. We don’t want to buy anything unless someone, somewhere has done all or part of the work for us. We eat at fast food joints instead of packing a bag lunch. We buy processed foods so we can microwave a meal instead of assembling and cooking a handful of fresh ingredients. We buy pre-packaged “kits” — often with “flavor packets” — to make the few “fresh” food items we eat.
All along the way, we subject our bodies to excessive use of questionable ingredients that have the potential to damage our health: salt, sweeteners, fat, chemical additives, preservatives.
But hey, it’s quick and easy, right?
And that’s all that seems to matter to us today. Taking the easy way out.
And the Trader Joe’s Guacamole Kit is just another indication of how lazy and stupid the American consumer has become.