Oh, Whole Foods, why won’t people cut you some slack? All you want to do is fulfill all of our most overzealous fantasies of wealth and privilege. For instance, who wants to peel their own oranges like some kind of common lemur? No one, of course. The Whole Foods’ solution: Sell them pre-peeled. But if they’re peeled, won’t the go bad? Yes, they will, but Whole Foods has a solution for that: Put them in plastic. Isn’t technology grand?
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before another piece of technology came back to bite the upmarket grocery store in the ass. Yesterday, user Nathalie Gordon posted a photo to Twitter featuring the exact scenario above: Peeled Sumo mandarins individually repackaged in plastic containers. “If only nature would find a way to cover these oranges so we didn't need to waste so much plastic on them,” she quipped.
Within three hours, Whole Foods’ official Twitter account had already apologized, stating, “Definitely our mistake. These have been pulled. We hear you, and we will leave them in their natural packaging: the peel.” But the cat was already out of the bag. Or to put it another way, the orange was already out of the peel.
Gordon’s original tweet got an astounding number retweets (over 63,000 as of today), and by the afternoon, news organizations like the Huffington Post had picked up on the story. At least that allowed an official Whole Foods representative to chime in on the controversy. “A lot of our customers love the convenience of our cut produce offerings, but this was a simple case where a handful of stores experimented with a seasonal product spotlight that wasn't fully thought through,” a spokeswoman told HuffPo. “We're glad some customers pointed it out so we could take a closer look.”
Yes, Whole Foods is once again glad for getting tons of free publicity. It’s almost as if these kinds of products are dreamt up during a weekly viral marketing meeting. To hell with circulars: Just put asparagus in water and let social media do our advertising for us.