Earlier this week, I got what will probably go down as a Top-10 PR email.
Hope you're well! I have some cool sweetgreen news to share: to celebrate Kendrick Lamar's return to our annual sweetlife festival and the release of his new album, we teamed up with Kendrick to create a limited-edition Beets Don’t Kale My Vibe salad.
Inspired by one of his biggest hits, the salad will be available at all 29 sweetgreen locations from May 1st - 31st, and will also be served at this year’s sweetlife festival, where Kendrick is back as one of this year's headlining performers. We're huge fans of his--drawn not only to his music, but to his commitment toward education and making a difference--and we're excited to team up to make an impact...
The email went on to describe the Beets Don't Kale My Vibe salad, which consists of the titular kale and beets, plus roasted chicken, goat cheese, pickled onions, candied pecans, and balsamic vinaigrette. My friend at Sweetgreen assured me it was "insanely good." Also, in case you missed it, there is a music festival that is run by a salad place.
The unexpected juxtaposition of rap music with white people vegetables
The name "Beets Don't Kale My Vibe" is a play on the Kendrick Lamar song "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe," a favorite from his highly acclaimed 2012 album good kid, m.A.A.d. city. The song is a statement of purpose, Kendrick's rejection of radio-rap values. By substituting the words "Bitch" and "Kill" with two produce items associated with farmer's markets and the tote-bag-and-baby-bjorn set, Sweetgreen has cleverly defanged Kendrick's original statement by "mashing it up" with artisanal consumer values. Even if you thought To Pimp a Butterfly was too "weird", you surely can appreciate the unexpected juxtaposition of rap music with white people vegetables.
The NoMad Sweetgreen is located on the ground floor of the NoMad Hotel, where I once watched a friend order a $60 glass of wine. At 12:45 today it was buzzing with fashionable 20- and 30-somethings checking their iPhones while a long line snaked under the warm, wooden acoustic ceiling panels.
Like Starbucks' Oprah Flavored Chai Tea, proceeds from the Beets Don't Kale My Vibe salad go to education programs for disadvantaged schoolchidren — nutrition education, in the case of the Kendrick product. This is smart, because education is the only charitable cause you can associate with a food product. You can't sell a comestible that funds clean needle programs or cancer research. Nobody wants to eat a sustainable needle wrap or drink artisanal cancer tea. But a books and children salad? Sign me up!
Also, like Oprah Flavored Chai Tea, the Beets Don't Kale My Vibe salad is kind of embarrassing to order. After I had made my way through 15 minutes worth of buzzy salad bar line, I got to the order-taker and half-heartedly mumbled "I'll have the uh, beesduntklill.." while gesturing limply at the menu board. "Lemme get a Kendrick PLEASE!" he barked at the assembly line.
The Beets Don't Kale My Vibe salad is kind of embarrassing to order
Normally I would have made alterations to the original lineup, because I am pretty particular about my salads. But this was for research, so I had an unaltered BDKMB — even the honey-glazed pecans, which I had a bad feeling about. C'mon, Sweetgreen, you think in order to make a salad appealing you have to turn it into a goddamn Thanksgiving dessert? No thank you.
After paying ($15 total, with a 16.9 ounce bottle of purified water), I finally sat down at the rustic wooden dining table and beheld my rap / books / children salad.
All in all, I have to say that the Beets Don't Kale My Vibe salad, unlike its effortlessly balanced, chilled-out namesake, was a bit much. I was right about the pecans — they were way too sweet and heavy — and overall, this salad could have done with a little advice from Coco Chanel and taken one thing off before it left the house. Let's do an ingredient-by-ingredient breakdown, shall we?
- Shredded kale: Solid start. The kale is the curly variety, with a thinner leaf, which results in a more tender, easy-to-eat salad once its been chopped and dressed.
- Roasted beets and red onions: Perfect. I was informed they were "flash-roasted" beets, which results in something between a steam and a roast. Who doesn't like roasted and/or picked onions? Pickled onions are nature's MSG.
- Local goat cheese: I don't really eat cheese, though I can deal with the occasional goat cheese or greek yogurt. This tasted like goat cheese, and was fine.
- Roasted chicken: This being my first time at Sweetgreen, I was not aware that "roasted chicken" meant, HOT, STEAMING, WET, SHREDDED CHICKEN SCOOPED OUT OF A LE CREUSET AND SLOPPED ONTO YOUR PERFECTLY FINE SALAD LIKE IT WAS SOME SORT OF CHIPOTLE BURRITO BOWL ABOMINATION. An outrage.
- Organic wild rice: What are you doing here? Who asked for you? Did you think I'd still be hungry if I didn't put some wet, warm carbohydrates in my candy nut salad?
- Honey-glazed pecans: We're better than this.
The Beets Don't Kale My Vibe salad will be available for the rest of the month at all Sweetgreen locations, and at the aforementioned salad music festival in Maryland. It's the perfect rap-themed meal to eat while laughing and vibing with your friends while wearing macrame and jamming to Bleachers. Stay healthy and connected!