Ch-ch-ch-chia! The Chia Pet is deeply rooted in the popular culture of North America so much that it is part of the Smithsonian Institutions permanent collection. It started as an authentic bit of Mexican culture before becoming an “As Seen on TV” sensation.
It is a small animal figurine made of terra cotta pottery. You soak some chia seeds in water, and spread them over the grooved portion of the pottery where they stick long enough to take root and grow. The first official “Chia Pet” appeared on TV in 1982. It was the ram… still a best-seller.
The chia plant (salvia hispanica… a type of sage) itself has a long history and was treasured in the ancient Aztec culture. It was given as part of an annual tribute to the Aztec rulers. To this day the chia seeds are used in Mexico as a health supplement. They may be tiny (about 2 millimeters) but they are packed with goodness. Protein, dietary fibre, strong antioxidants, and the oil is a significant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Also gluten-free.
Australia was the top producer of chia crops in 2008. The herb can grow to 1 meter in height, which if left to grow wild on one of the Chia Pet Barack Obama heads, would just look… tacky!
99% of annual Chia Pet sales occur in December, as it makes the perfect gift for that special person you don’t really like a whole lot.
Bonus Fact: Joseph Enterprises Inc., the company that brings us the Chia Pet, has also brightened our lives with that modern marvel “The Clapper” for turning lamps on and off.