Chia Pets: The perfect, green, PC Christmas gift

Chia Pets: The perfect, green, PC Christmas gift

Chia Zombie.
Ho-ho-ho-horrific! How about a Chia Zombie under the tree this Christmas. (Screen shot from 2014 Chia Zombie Christmas commercial.)

WASHINGTON, December 16, 2014 – With Black Friday already a distant memory, it looks like Christmas 2014 is almost upon us. If you’re like most Americans, you probably haven’t quite completed your Christmas shopping, or perhaps you haven’t even gotten around to it.

But never fear! CDN has discovered the perfect gift for that quirky, hard-to-please neighbor, friend, or relative. Just what do you buy for this hard-to-please person? Why, a Chia Pet, of course. As Seen on TV!

Why not? After all, just like the Internet, they can’t put stuff on TV that isn’t true, right?

What better, more politically correct and distinctive gift can you possibly think of giving this Christmas than a colorful, lovable, and very green Chia Pet?! It’s fun, it’s green (literally), and lately, health nuts have been singing the praises of chia seeds and the health benefits that come from eating them. Now you can plant some and eat some and be clever, healthy, fashion-forward and politically correct, all at the same time. What a concept!

What is a Chia Pet?

For the uninitiated, Chia Pets come in Chia Pet kits, which consist of chia seeds, chia goop, and a porous, absorptive little planter made of cheap terra cotta pottery and designed with one purpose in mind: to grow a bunch of chia seeds right onto the terra cotta planter, most of which are sculpted to resemble cute animals or, increasingly, popular entertainment and public figures and even Presidents.

Once you get your kit started, in just one or two weeks, your Chia Pet will sport a luxurious mane of either green fur or green hair, courtesy of those feisty little chia seeds, of which more anon. Instant gratification. And a tribute to the nerviness of American advertising.

In which the history of the Chia Pet is briefly related

The original Chia Pet was sculpted to look like a ram. According to our research, this (allegedly) very first official Chia-Pet was marketed by a dude named Joe Pedott and was manufactured by his San Francisco area company, Joseph Enterprises Inc., circa 1977.

We say “allegedly” because Pedott actually bought the right to sell Chia Pets—which already existed—from another guy who was buying them from Mexico.

Around this time, so the story goes, when one of Pedott’s assistants was kidding him about the Chia Pets, he pretended to stutter as he pronounced the product’s name—i.e., “Ch-ch-ch-Chia Pets!” Thus inspired, Pedott quickly adopted for the jingle he used in his TV sales pitches.

Check it out in this classic commercial clip via YouTube. It supposedly dates from 2005, but probably was made considerably earlier, given the graininess of the images:

This commercial remains one of the best examples we have of illustrating how, with the right marketing, something that’s utterly useless can end up making you a lot of money. (Remember Pet Rocks?) Ch-ch-ch-ching!

But wait! There’s more!

Chia Pets—a healthy alternative food?

The likely reason that the Chia Pet originated in Mexico is due to the chia plant itself, which likes to grow there. You see, that green stuff growing on your Chia Pet isn’t grass. It’s chia, a grain seed that’s grown in Mexico and central America where it’s popular as a food product. Turns out the seeds are loaded with—drum roll, please—omega-3 fatty acids.

Chia (aka chian or chien) is grown commercially in its native Mexico and other countries as a food product. But for some reason, chia as a nutritional choice never really caught on in the U.S. That’s a surprise, given how key food vigilantes nutritionists like New York’s former mayor Nanny Bloomberg and First Lady Michelle “Starve the Schoolchildren” are always pushing “healthy alternatives” to our invariably fatal food lifestyle.

But fear not. Trendy Americans are now waking up to the health benefits of chia. We know these Americans are trendy because they read the New York Times, which, in a 2012 article on chia, observed

… chia is having a second life as a nutritional ‘it’ item. Whole and ground chia seeds are being added to fruit drinks, snack foods and cereals and sold on their own to be baked into cookies and sprinkled on yogurt… Recognition of its nutritional value can be traced as far back as the Aztecs.

Companies like Dole and Nature’s Path have introduced chia products, which have begun showing up on shelves in mainstream grocery stores like Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons.

You’ve heard about the “it” girl? Now, introduce yourself to chia, the “it” seed. What more do you need to know? Clearly, chia seeds and Chia Pets are green in every possible way, and politically correct, too.

Extra chia bonus: If you click this link, it will take you to Melissa Clark’s outrageous but possibly healthy recipe for Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding. Who needs yogurt when you can have this.

Top 10 Chia Pets Ever, 2014 Edition

Now that you know what all the fuss is about (presuming you even care), and just in time for the holidays, here’s our latest annotated list of the Top Ten Really Stupid Chia Pets of all time.

Our 2014 list appears in descending order from 10 (marginally the least stupid) to 1 (sublimely stupid).

Travel at your own risk. We accept no responsibility for the destruction of brain cells in the course of this journey.

10. Chia Homer Simpson

Coming in at Number 10 in this year’s list is the official Chia Pet version of Homer Simpson. Even though there’s currently a Bart Simpson Chia Pet on the market as well, we choose Homer for our Number 10 slot because he, unlike his devious son Bart, is the epitome of American mediocrity.

Chia Homer.
Chia Homer. Advertising image via

What could be more patriotic than Homer in 2014, a year when Washington, DC became most notable for the historically high percentage of mediocre Senators and Representatives sitting in the White House and up on Capitol Hill collecting more money than anyone has ever seen while mindlessly eviscerating the country?

We will give Homer points, however, for his inherently good nature, a distinction no current Washington-based pol can claim.

9. Chia Taz

From time to time, the Chia people have managed to license and/or produce various pets in the shape and form of classic cartoon characters. We’ve seen Chia examples in years past of Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, and Tweetie-Pie, all from the Warner Brothers stables, although not all these variants may not be available at a given time.

Chia Taz.
Chia Taz. Warner Bros. character in a Chia format, ad image via

But of all these Chia cartoon characters past and present, none exemplify radical leftist trolls and crazy MSNBC pundits better than Warner Brothers’ batshit crazy Taz, the Tasmanian Devil.

Tasmanian devils are among the most irascible and furious of all land-based mammals, and Taz is no exception. His spectacular whirling dervishes of fury are legendary, having been most recently featured in yet another of those bizarre GEICO non-gecko commercials in TV, in which Taz destroys a China closet.

Taz’ extremely bad attitude and bad hair are likely a rational reaction to the 21st century and its mindless stupidity. Taz is the very embodiment of Rage against the Machine. It’s a wonder that no one has adopted him as a mascot.

8. Chia Scooby-Doo and Shaggy (with Special Guest Star Chia Garfield)

Scooby-Doo’s classic observation, “Rhut-Rho!!” pretty much mirrors our reaction every morning as we read the daily news or during evenings when we watch TV news—an increasingly rare activity since it’s likely to give this writer a coronary.

Semi-hairless Chia Scooby-Doo. (Advertising image.)
Semi-hairless Chia Scooby-Doo. (Advertising image.)

Rhut-Rho! In the adjacent illustration, we have a fine example of someone who doesn’t know jack about the proper care and feeding of a Scooby-Doo Chia Pet. The Scooby example here exhibits severe, patchy Chia Baldness, a sure sign that it’s time for a trip to the Cia Vet. Whose doing the marketing on this one?

Also available, Scoob’s human companion, Shaggy, is the very embodiment of the vapidity and lack of brainpower that generally leads to those “Rhut-Rho!!” moments. Shaggy is actually the intellectual peer of the average Congressperson, which is truly frightening if you think about it. But funny, too.

Shaggy Chia.
Scoob’s best pal, Chia Shaggy. (Advertising image.)

Scoob and Shaggy make an excellent pairing. Like any Washington politician, their instantaneous reaction when anyone accuses them of anything at all is “Who, ME????” Like “Rhut-Rho!!,” “Who, ME????” is a metaphor for our times.

As for Garfield? Even though we’re cat people, we could never quite understand his appeal to the masses. We still can’t. But these three Chia Pets were marketed together as a sort of cheaply-made Chia Cartoon Collection.

Check out Scooby, Shaggy, and Garfield in the Chia Pitch below. BTW, don’t miss the Chia Alarm Clock, no doubt a free bonus if you ACT NOW! Or at least if you could act retroactively to 2008 when this commercial actually aired.

7. Chia Mr. T

I pity the foo’ who don’t have one of these.

Chia Mr. T. Pain! (Advertising image)
Chia Mr. T. Pain! (Advertising image)

The scary but lovable Mr. T had his very own Chia Pet at one time and promoted it, too. Mr. T’s first claim to fame was his role in the “Rocky” film series as the incredibly baaadass opponent Clubber Lane, who pummeled Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky back down to earth.

Mr. T scored another hit on TV, playing a similar character on the relatively short-lived but highly popular “A-Team” series.

His legendary Mohawk proved a perfect alternative to the standard Chia Pet planting routine, adding some art to the artifice. Hence, the launch of his Chia image and likeness. Chia T seems no longer to be generally available. You can sometimes find this one on E-Bay, as it’s become a collector’s items now, foo’.

6. Chia Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle(s)

Chia Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle(s)
Chia Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle(s). The Nickelodeon version. (Image via Walmart and other online sites)

Cowabunga, dudes! This Chia Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle set is advertised all over the Internet. But everywhere we’ve checked, it seems to be out of stock, either meaning these items are popular, or they’re not making them anymore. In any event, if you’re a fan of the Turtles, this one’s for you if you can find it. Problem is, none of the adverts tell us which Mutant Ninja Turtle we’re getting, though it’s clear we just get one in the box and not the whole set.

At any rate, this turtle or turtles would look cool on your desk, resplendent with his chia shell.

5. Chia Newt Gingrich

The 2012 primaries were probably Newt’s last hurrah in politics. That’s a shame, as he still deserves credit for teaching the House how to become Republican again, even though they squandered everything they ever learned from him in 2006.

Chia Newt. Freedom of Choice! (Advertising image)
Chia Newt. Freedom of Choice! (Advertising image)

The Newtster’s sheer intelligence often made him veer considerably off course like an unguided missile with vocal cords. This, along with his habit of dumping ailing wives was ultimately his undoing. That said, his 2012 campaign was enough to earn him the honor of his own Chia Pet, and his Chia Caricature, though apparently no longer in manufacture, still makes this effigy one of the funnier Chia Efforts.

Newt may be gone from the political stage for now, but he’s not forgotten, particularly on Fox.

4. Chia Rick Perry with bonus Bill White

We continue our move from actual cartoons and deeper into the cartoonish world of American politics. Speaking of which, what could be funnier than The Short, Unhappy 2012 Campaign of Rick Perry? Actually, Rick started out with a bang, saying all the right things to get Conservatives fired up. Until he didn’t.

His previous campaign for re-election as governor of Texas in 2010, however, was touched by genius, as the photo below conclusively proves. Boasting two Chias for the price of one, Perry supporters created a special, Texas-sized Chia Rick. And, in a burst of bipartisan fairness, they paired it with another depicting Chia Bill White, his 2010 Democrat opponent.

The image below is unattributed as far as we can tell, but it initially appeared in the online Atlantic (2011) with the following informative verbiage:

Via The Atlantic Wire’s Elspeth Reeve, who has rounded up the best memorabilia of the 2012 presidential election, this six-foot-tall Rick Perry planter is being sold on eBay for $4,500.

The fertilizer company Cow Wow originally created it to commemorate the 2010 Texas gubernatorial race.

Perry vs. White Chias.
A very large pair of souvenirs from the Perry-White contest of 2010. (Did we just slip in a joke here?) We’ve never seen this before but it’s Texas-size hilarious for sure. (Apparent credit: The Atlantic.)

Cow Wow? Any relation to ShamWow? Or more closely related to the well-known by-product produced in abundance by all politicians.

This 2010 Chia Extravaganza is history, of course. But Rick is apparently gearing up for a second presidential try in 2016, despite attempts by his shady Democrat opponents to put him in jail for doing his job. It’s all Texas politics at its finest.

At any rate, we wouldn’t be surprised to see another Chia Rick show up online over the next two years.

3. Chia Obama: The Way We Were

During 2012, both Chia Obama and Chia Mitt Romney Pets were readily available. Chia Mitt has become a collector’s item, now. No longer manufactured, Chia Mitt can still be found online on occasion.

Meanwhile, Chia Obama is still going strong. The Presidential election results in 2012 weren’t very funny for the Republicans. But the Chia Pets of both candidates sure were because in their own way, they seemed to predict the outcome of that Presidential contest.

Intentionally or not, Chia Romney looked just like the bland loser the media made him out to be. Benign, inoffensive, Chia Romney inspired respect but not votes.

Meanwhile, Chia Obama showed a lot more verve and character, and the chia treatment of his hair seemed somehow more effective and authentic.

Chia Obama initially surfaced as a special commemorative edition issued following the 2008 election. Unfortunately, that Chia pet debut was instantly dubbed “racist” by the usual suspects, and many retailers, notably Walgreens, pulled Chia Obama from their shelves rather than deal with the negative fallout. Folks eventually got over it and obsessed about something else.

Two burning questions still rankle with regard to the Chia Obama original: One, was Chia Obama really racist? And two, why did we never see a Chia McCain?

What better way to close this entry with an instant replay of this 2009 Inauguration Day Chia Pet Commercial? Wax nostalgic as you relive those long-forgotten halcyon days of Hope and Change.

2. “Duck Dynasty’s” Willie Robertson

Say no more, say no more. What better transition from ‘toons to humans can we possibly find than this lovable character from yet another inexplicably popular “reality show,” A&E’s on-again-off-again “Duck Dynasty?”

Chia Willie.
Quack, Quack! It’s Chia Willie, still going strong after telling the PC police where to stick it. (Advertising image)

Since this product came on the market, the Duck Dynasts and their paterfamilias have gotten caught in the liberal crosshairs at least twice already for expressing their religious beliefs, which, in 2014, apparently borders on treason. But twice, they’ve bounced back, foiling the lefty Philistines with help from their loyal fans. Willie should be justifiably proud of scoring these rare wins for God’s side.

Bottom line: Chia Willie Robertson opens up a whole new world in Chia Pet Land, proving that if you can simulate fur and hair with chia seeds, who says you can’t simulate beards with the green stuff, too? And few have bigger and better beards than Willie or his Chia Alter Ego.

1. Chia Zombies

Here’s an exciting new series in the Chia Pet Pantheon. All three entries in this new Chia Category bring the Chia Pet concept up to date with current popular culture, offering “Walking Dead” fans the latest in Chia Fashion: The Chia Zombie.

Chia Zombie, male.
Here’s the 2014 Chia Zombie Dude. (Advertising image via

Here’s a description of these new products obtained via one commercial site:

Joseph Enterprises, the company behind Chia Pet and other infamous as-seen-on-TV products like the Clapper and the Ove Glove, has released three variations on the Chia Zombie theme. One is a male zombie head named Creepy Holden. He has a lady friend called Lifeless Lisa. You slather the chia seeds on their heads, water them, and watch the funky, green, moldy-looking hair grow.


The disembodied heads both look suitably decayed and creepy, but the piece de resistance of the line is the ‘restless arm.’ It’s a classic zombie arm breaking through the ground to clasp at its new undead existence. The chia seeds are placed all around the base of the arm to act as the graveyard grass.

Chia Zombie Dudette.
And here’s the Chia Zombie Dudette. (Advertising image, via

Interested? Here’s a 2014 Chia Zombie Halloween commercial to get you into the right frame of mind:

Even though it’s past Halloween, Chia Zombies are still available. Any one or all three of these fabulous Chia Zombie Pets could be the perfect Christmas gift for those special, hard-to-please “Walking Dead” fanatics on your Christmas list.

Chia Zombie Arm.
Here’s the fantastic Chia Zombie Arm, that piece of resistance the marketeers are crowing about. (Advertising image via

We think it’s likely those hard-working entrepreneurs at Joseph Enterprises will bring these Chia Zombies back for their Christmas 2015 line. Based on the clear appeal of the Chia Zombie Arm in the current collection, maybe the Franklin folks will consider adding a new Chia Brains kit for the next holiday season.

Br-a-a-i-i-ins! Something delicious to look forward to and more nutritious than fruitcake.

Now you have them. All ten winners in our 2014 Top Ten Stupid Chia Pet competition. Will we have another competition next year? That probably depends on what kind of Chia Pets we see between now and then. The upcoming Presidential elections in 2016 might offer an ever better slate of Chia Candidates.

Happy Holidays!


NOTE: Chia Pet® is the registered trademark belonging to Joseph Enterprises, Inc., the manufacturers and originators of the Chia Pet. The name was first used on September 8, 1977. The Chia Pet is not a patented invention. Other companies can freely make and sell novelty items similar to the Chia Pet, but the name of Chia Pet® belongs to Joseph Enterprises, Inc.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17