Hi—can I tell you something? Just days ago, my colleagues on the Food52 editorial team alerted me to the fact that the Neiman Marcus Gift Guide is “a thing.” I’ve never shopped at Neiman Marcus, which I’m told is pithily monikered “Needless Markup” in some witty circles, a nod to its irritatingly inflated prices. Some told me they “used to get it as a child,” which never happened to me; I have never seen this bound catalog. Another contended that the yearly return of the catalog “is absurd and wonderful!” But they both agreed: The catalog is flush with offerings of luxury items. What place did collard greens have in Neiman Marcus' holiday oeuvre this year?
Collard greens? Collard greens. Yeah. You heard me.
Collard greens—these are a food that are at once sacred and also not luxury; peep the #GentrifiedGreens hashtag on Twitter, flush with righteous fury pointed at the fact that a food known for its affordability, and tethered to Southern identity (and, especially, black Southern identity), is being marketed for $81.50. $81.50. Uhhh, yeah. No thanks; I’d rather rent Troop Beverly Hills 27 times instead. Neiman Marcus' other culinary offerings include a Broccoli Cheese Casserole for $80.50 and a Holiday Turkey Dinner for $527—valuations that are astronomically large.
Amazingly, these collard greens are now sold out. Excuse me? What kind of person buys their collard greens from Neiman Marcus? I wanted to know. I moseyed on over to the Neiman Marcus live customer assistance chat, introducing myself as a journalist interested in knowing more. Here is my transcript, truncated for clarity.
The website claims that the greens are “seasoned with just the right amount of spices.” What spices are they cooked in?
I apologize, I do not have the spices that were used.
Do you have any information about how quickly they sold out?
No, we do not have that information.
Do you have any demographic info about who bought these collard greens?
Our Public Relations Department addresses media related inquiries. You may contact Melinda Lee, a member of our Public Relations department.
Amazing. I thanked this representative and called this "Melinda" character. She did not answer; bafflingly, I heard the voice of a man named Jeff in the voicemail recording. I hung up surreptitiously, fearing I’d called the wrong number. I decided afterwards to try Neiman Marcus’ customer service phone line. I wanted to avoid this throughout the process of writing this blog post, as it wasn’t my intention to aggrieve a patient, courteous customer service representative.
But journalism beckons. I spoke to an understandably suspicious woman. My transcript is below, and, again, pared down for clarity (“Repeat the number to me, sir,” she commanded to me eighty times):
I noticed that your homemade collard greens, item Q52N8, are sold out. How quickly did they sell out?
The homemade collard greens. O…kay. So, they’re sold out at the moment, and, uh, you want to know how quickly they sold ou—sir, I really can’t answer that, because the thing is…we have so many customers that order their Christmas dinners from us, so it’s really hard to answer that.
Okay, cool. Have you guys been getting a lot of calls about collard greens? I’ve been seeing a lot on social media about it.
About our collard greens?
Yeah. And the fact that Neiman Marcus is selling collard greens for the first time.
No, sir, I haven’t heard anything. What is the feedback, sir?
I’ve just been hearing a lot of complaints about the prices, because collard greens are usually marketed for much cheaper.
About the collard green prices? Is the feedback good or bad, sir?
It’s…not good or bad. These people aren’t buying them. They’re complaining about the price.
Oh okay. Well, sir, they are selling. They are selling.
Wow. You can no longer buy collard greens from Neiman Marcus, but, if they were still available, would you have done so? Please let me know.