Millennials, as we’ve established time and time (and time) again, like plants. We really like them. (We hear other generations dig ‘em too.) Another thing we like? Nostalgia! Maybe we’re obnoxious hipsters, or maybe we’re just people missing the days of yore, when the planet wasn’t dying quite as quickly and things seemed generally less pre-apocalyptic, but either way, we like old shit. One final thing on our nice list? Chia seeds! As in, those crunchy little balls we make our Instagram-inspired breakfast pudding from. We’re pretty sure they’re a superfood or something? Either way, they have a texture that’s weird in a good way, and look chic under a bed of fresh berries.
Here’s what I’m getting at: Chia Pets are extremely 2019. They combine the ever-popular kitsch aesthetic of the ‘80s, but wouldn’t be out of place amongst the succulents and fiddle leaf figs that comprise the average contemporary home garden. In fact, every garden should probably have one; the Chia Pet is the undeniable comedian of the plant world, and plants need laughter too.
The real kicker is something you probably never realized when you were a kid — mostly because you probably didn’t know what the hell a chia was — but Chia Pets beget chia seeds. Unfortunately, the ones grown by the Pets aren’t officially approved for consumption, but they’re basically the same thing you’d buy at your fancy health food bodega. (As in, you’ll probably be fine if you eat them, but don’t go suing Joseph Pedott — he’s the guy who invented Chia Pets — if you’re not.)
If you still don't believe we're living in the Year of The Chia, may I present to you these photographs of Lady Gaga's dogs dressed up as Chia Pets during Halloween last year. There's also a Reddit thread where one user asks, "What's with chia pets making a comeback? I thought they went extinct with the recession?" And another replies, "Retro novelty. Nostalgia."
It’s worth mentioning that Chia Pets have only gotten weirder since you last thought about them 20 years ago. Back then, as the name implies, they mostly took the form of cute pets. Those still exist, but these days, there are far more sinister options. There’s Chia Rick and Chia Morty from Rick And Morty, Chia emojis, and, of course, Chia Trump, whose amber terracotta face-pot seems almost too on-the-nose. There is also now a market for fancy Chia Pets, like ones designed by artists and sold at Urban Outfitters. If this isn't evidence of an upcoming Chia Pet explosion, I'm not sure what is.
And since we’re living in the era of the Plant Lady, a return to Chia Pets feels natural. After all, many of us are already anthropomorphizing our plant friends, and what is a Chia Pet, really, if not an expression of that? (Today, we know things that don’t have faces can nevertheless be alive, but back in the ‘80s, apparently, we needed these little reminders.) And if you’ve felt the need to eschew a former Cat Lady identity in order to fully embrace the Plant Lady ethos, well, a kitty-shaped Chia Pet seems like the ultimate way to reconcile these dueling sides of yourself. Yes, in 2019, women really can have it all. If “all” means a blob-shaped Chia Pet with googly eyes.