Did you know that Whole Foods sells peeled oranges in plastic containers? Well, they did, for a few hours on Thursday, anyway, before the internet blew up with ridicule and complaints. Now, the ostensibly environmentally- and socially-conscious retailer has pulled the oranges after an embarrassing backlash, MSN is reporting.
Whole Foods, the organic grocer whose shockingly high prices have earned it the nickname “Whole Paycheck,” has pulled the peeled oranges from its shelves after a California woman noticed the naked navels on a store shelf and posted her thoughts about them on Twitter.
If only nature would find a way to cover these oranges so we didn’t need to waste so much plastic on them. pic.twitter.com/00YECaHB4D
— Nathalie Gordon (@awlilnatty) March 3, 2016
Yep. Someone on Whole Foods’ payroll, someone who gets paid to come up with these types of ideas, thought that Whole Foods consumers a) really really didn’t like going through the hassle of peeling oranges, b) were willing to pay a premium to have the oranges peeled for them before they bought them, and c) were willing to look the other way at the waste-contributing plastic packaging, something that’s out of character for a store that encourages shoppers to bring their own shopping bags to the store to cut back on waste.
It didn’t go well.
Shortly after Nathalie’s tweet, Whole Foods announced that they were pulling the peeled oranges.
@awlilnatty Definitely our mistake. These have been pulled. We hear you, and we will leave them in their natural packaging: the peel.
— Whole Foods Market (@WholeFoods) March 3, 2016
By then, however, the damage had already been done. Almost immediately, the backlash began on Twitter. Some Twitter users brought the snark.
Whole Foods said it will stop selling peeled oranges for $6 a pound & will instead focus full time on making Thneeds pic.twitter.com/OICWplG6xx
— Benjamin Siemon (@BenjaminJS) March 4, 2016
Other users figured that there had to have been some sort of political statement in the peeled oranges, and tried to mine the situation for political humor.
— David Fricke (@frickeville) March 4, 2016
For his part, Bernie Sanders thought the peeled oranges were a metaphor for… something.
GRAPEFRUITS ARE ORANGES WITHOUT HOPE
— Bernie Thoughts (@berniethoughts) January 15, 2016
Okay, so that tweet wasn’t really from Bernie Sanders — it was from a Bernie Sanders parody account. But it’s still funny. The real Bernie Sanders likely has bigger things on his plate than pontificating about the juxtaposition of peeled oranges in plastic containers at an environmentally friendly grocer. Or he’s just sitting back and jamming to Phish.
Others noted that there’s a precedent for grocers — besides whole foods — selling fruit that’s been removed from its natural packaging and repackaged for the convenience of consumers.
Gosh, whole foods, if only pineapples had a natural container that… Oh, that’s not silly either? Oranges are. okay pic.twitter.com/4TYGs3Bef1
— Red Mom of R’hllor (@zhinxy) March 4, 2016
Still others noted that accusations of pandering to laziness aside, there is a good reason for offering peeled oranges for sale: not everybody can peel an orange even if they want to. The elderly and disabled, for example, may find peeled oranges just what the doctor ordered.
At this point, it bears noting that what Whole Foods was trying to sell that day wasn’t peeled oranges – they were Sumo tangerines, which are a slightly more obscure citrus fruit than the rank-and-file navel orange. But unless you’re a botanist, it doesn’t really matter.
This is not the first time Whole Foods has been caught selling something of questionable usefulness. Last August, the retailer faced embarrassment after a shopper noticed the retailer trying to pass off “Asparagus Water” – plain bottled water with sprigs of asparagus in it – for $5.99.
Do you think Whole Foods was wrong to remove its peeled oranges for the shelves, or is it a fantastic convenience that you’d pay money to experience? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Image via Shutterstock/anna.danilkova]