Collard Greens

Who Buys $81.50 Collard Greens from Neiman Marcus?

November  3, 2016

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.

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The website claims that the greens are “seasoned with just the right amount of spices.” What spices are they cooked in?

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Top Comment:
“I think a lot of us here on Food52 thought the same thing.... "I can cook you PILES of collard greens for $66. You could probably take a BATH in them, there would be so many! yes, my adopted Granny and my Other Mother would both have a hemi if they were here to hear of ANYone paying that kind of money for a few servings of (already cooked) collards. However, Needless Markups does have its audience, and they are pretty much "the privileged few." Goodie for them. I could go to France for vacation for what they charge for their pre-made dinners!”
— ChefJune
Comment

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.

15 Comments

Vanessa November 22, 2016
Says the company selling a burlap sack for $25? https://food52.com/shop/products/1814-burlap-santa-sack<br />For point of reference: https://smile.amazon.com/Burlap-Potato-Sack-24-40/dp/B000LY0IA2/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1479834765&sr=8-4&keywords=burlap+sack
 
Westcoasty November 7, 2016
Ever since I moved to farming country, I have loved buying freshly picked organic produce from a local store. So good, whatever it is, because it hasn't been shipped halfway across the continent in storage containers and stuck in cold storage till it was time to put it on the shelves. No matter how much money I had, I wouldn't give that up to buy mail order greens. If I could afford to pay that much for vegetables, I could also afford to hire a local chef to cook for me using my fresh organic produce! So no, I'd never pay that. Crazy.
 
Ttrockwood November 5, 2016
Nieman marcus is a luxury department store where you can buy $50 lipsticks and the avergae handbag is more than my rent. Certainly not price sensitive clients. Ultimately if one is wealthy and "does not cook" yet wants to have a thanksgiving at home then why not buy from a store with a reputation for selling only the best?? <br />I certainly would never spend my money that way, but then again I'm also not wealthy and i can cook. <br />I think it's silly and over the top yet a sign of a healthy economy. <br /><br />I was really hoping this was an article where you bought the greens and had reviewed them!
 
ChefJune November 4, 2016
I think a lot of us here on Food52 thought the same thing.... "I can cook you PILES of collard greens for $66. You could probably take a BATH in them, there would be so many! <br />yes, my adopted Granny and my Other Mother would both have a hemi if they were here to hear of ANYone paying that kind of money for a few servings of (already cooked) collards. However, Needless Markups does have its audience, and they are pretty much "the privileged few." Goodie for them. I could go to France for vacation for what they charge for their pre-made dinners!
 
Saffron3 November 3, 2016
Mind that price includes shipping and handling. If you compare their prices with William Sonoma, the side dishes and full meals are competitive. I mean some folks have private chefs and servers tend private holiday dinners at their home, some folks have the holiday dinners from their private clubs delivered to their home, some folks go to dinners at homes with said chefs etc. Most of those prices tend to be competitive. <br />If one cooks at a home, with others or not, the prices are clearly much less. <br />Money spending is a personal choice, right-o? <br />
 
Alexandra V. November 3, 2016
NO (expletive) way would I buy em! But if there is anyone out there that wants some "Portland, OR tilth Organic collard greens deluxes, with turkey leg chunks" for only $75 send em my way!!!! I will make, freeze and sell those suckers...LOL! #moredollarsthansense
 
Lissa November 3, 2016
Twitter's response to this ridiculousness was hilarious, but your interaction with NM's customer service tops everything. Your articles are quickly becoming one of the main reasons I come to Food52; it's like Food52 hired one of the writers from Very Smart Brothas to write on food and culture, and I am here for it!
 
Author Comment
Mayukh S. November 3, 2016
Ah! Lissa! I love VSB. This is the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me on this site. Thank you.
 
Michele November 3, 2016
Who buys these? Well, the people who buy the his and hers private jet or the personal submarine they sold in other years. <br />
 
Kenzi W. November 3, 2016
The PERSONAL SUBMARINE?
 
Clio November 3, 2016
I mean I see and acknowledge the point you're making about gentrification. I do. But... the Food52 store sells $60 peach punnets and $50 tomato scented candles. Right now, your offerings include upwards of $30 for some (admittedly very shiny) apples and $38 for a trio of jams. Jams. Literal sugar, fruit, pectin in a jar. So I don't think you can claim the moral high ground here, at all. Even a little bit.
 
Amanda S. November 3, 2016
Hi Clio, thank you for raising this point. It’s a good one. Yes, you can get a cheaper candle elsewhere (you can even DIY one for mere dollars), but that Tomato Vine candle smells spectacular—we absolutely think it’s worth the price. Not everyone wants to make their own candles, or baskets, or jams—or has the time to travel to an orchard looking for Mountain Rose apples. (Though, great if you do!) We stock products we love, at prices we feel good about, and we do our best to tell you every reason why they passed our worth-it test. $81 of frozen collard greens from a company that can’t even tell you what’s in them didn’t ring as true (to us at least).
 
jay November 3, 2016
I sort of agree wit Clio. Things on this website is beautiful, very unique, but $230 for a serving spoon and a fork? $95 olive oil cruet..?
 
BrianV November 3, 2016
"not everyone.." is a poor retort. <br /><br />It's funny when one luxury brand hates on another luxury brand...
 
sharon November 3, 2016
Hell to the No. I am a brown girl and my grandmother would come back from the grave if she new this was going on. What next, $100, pigs feet in truffle oil? I can't!!!!