CLICK ABOVE TO PLAY MUSIC
Music – “Reeds Calloni Jam (My Chia Pet Is Dead)” from The Fluorescent Shaded Teddy Bear Murders by Keith Moore. Released: 2002
Who can forget the delightful little “Chia Pets”, with Chia Guy as the first. It wasn’t until the early 1980’s that Chia Ram was widely marketed and they were a huge success. Following this success, the marketer, Joe Pedott, introduced a whole line of Chia Pets.
Over the years, new lines were added, including numerous cartoon characters: Garfield the Cat, Tweety Bird, Mickey Mouse, the Donkey from Shrek and characters from the Simpsons (Homer Simpson as a Chia Pet?). There were more models and they continue to be sold, to the tune of approximately 500,000 annually. For some reason, Christmas is the best sales time for Chia Pets. Through the 2000’s, the marketers continued to add new Chia Pets, if you can call George Washington or Barack Obama “pets”.
The Chia Pet is a pottery vessel, shaped in the form of an animal or character, which is hollowed out inside for the addition of water. The pottery surface is ridged and after making a paste of the chia seeds (included), they are spread evenly over the surface of the ridges.Placed in sunlight (and don’t forget your pet needs water), a Chia Pet would usually develop a full “coat” in one to two weeks.
So, after the Chia Pet has his full coat, then what happens? Well, presumably, at least in the early 1980’s, the novelty was seeing the seeds sprout. Once that happened, the pet might lose his coat, if neglected, but a new one could be grown if enough chia seeds were still left. Your pet might moult several times before becoming bald, which is not a good thing for a pet.
The Chia Pet was so popular in the 1980’s and 1990’s, that in 2000, the New York Times newspaper buried a time capsule in New York City, not to be opened until 3000. A number of items were buried, including the beloved Chia Pet as if they were a household name, which, apparently they were (as you can tell if you are playing the music accompanying this post!)
I never had a Chia Pet. By the time they were marketed, I had the real thing, dogs, birds, rabbits, fish, chickens (yes, I once had two pet chickens, Paul and Dick). I eschewed the Chia Pet as purely a marketing scam to lure little children into thinking they could have a pet, even if the landlord didn’t allow them, or Mom and Dad said “No animals!” The child would have to care for the Chia Pet, giving him water and sunlight (as any pet needs), and tend to him carefully.
I confess that I haven’t given the Chia Pet a thought over the years, until the other night, when I was watching an episode of “Chopped” on the Food Network, and chia seeds were one of the mandatory ingredients one of the rounds.
I watched as each of the four contestants endeavored to use the seeds, from grinding them into a slurry, mixed with other items, to decoratively sprinkling them on top of a sort of cabbage roll. All of this time, I hadn’t realized that the seeds of the Chia Pets luxurious coat were edible. As Guy Fieri is fond of saying, “Well, shut the front door!” Cute and edible too!
This thought now planted in my mind, I began to research recipes using chia seeds. At this point, I have close to 3,900 cookbooks in my collection, of which 2,560 are on my “bookshelf” at http://www.eatyourbooks.com. Eat Your Books (EYB) is a great site, which allows you to match up a cookbook you have with the books on the Eat Your Books site, thus being able to search the indexed recipes for each book shared and find a recipe just like that!
Of the 2,560 cookbooks that I can easily search for recipes, thanks to Eat Your Books, I have approximately 146,000 recipes to choose from. When I searched my recipes for “chia seeds”, I located only 4 recipes from 2,560 cookbooks: Chia Lime Water, Tequila Lime Sorbet, Sprout & Endive Salad, and Jumpin’ Jalapeno Beans, all from Mexican and Southwest cookbooks. That said, only .003% of all of the 146,000 recipes include chia seeds. I just knew there was a reason why they were used as “pets” and not “food”!
In the massive Eat Your Books library, currently consisting of 125,013 cookbooks, with a total of 1,013,035 recipes to browse, I also searched by “chia seeds” and located 238 recipes, most in books, which I did not have on my “bookshelf”, however, that represents only .023% of all of those recipes, which use chia seeds. Seems like a lot of people, myself included, don’t have chia seeds next to the salt and peppershakers. By contrast, a search of “sesame seeds” on EYB located 14,955 recipes (1.47%).
I understand that chia seeds are now becoming more popular and are sold in health food stores. They apparently are full of fiber, high in potassium and calcium and other vitamins and minerals. The Aztecs, it seems, cultivated them and they are still grown in South America. Australia now produces large quantities of chia seeds as well.
So, after perusing through all of these useless statistics and information about the chia seed, which you probably didn’t care about, I pose a question to my readers. Do vegetarians eat Chia Pets?