The Gift Exch-ch-ch-change

Last night I attended a white elephant-style gift exchange hosted by one of my friends. I think I made out pretty well; I gave a bottle of the finest brandy within the specified price range, and came out with the hottest gift of the 2009 holiday season: a Chia® Obama. (See Figure 1, below)

Figure 1: Bottle of brandy (left) and Chia® Obama

According to the Internet, there’s been a bit of controversy over the Chia® Obama (henceforth ChiaBama). Some people feel that the natural propensity for Chia® grass to grow into an afro-type hairstyle means that the ChiaBama has racist undertones. Or rather, some people feel that some people feel that the ChiaBama has racist undertones. Back in April, Walgreens decided to stop selling ChiaBamas  because it received complaints. But after reading the inane comments on many online articles covering the story, it seems like more people are simply disgusted by someone cashing in on the President’s popularity by slapping his likeness on a tacky gift item. Better not tell these people about the Obama bobblehead doll.

Joseph Enterprises, creator of the Chia® brand of zoomorphic botanical gifts, has even set up a separate website,, to capitalize on the buzz from the ChiaBama. In a way-too-deadpan commercial, the announcer introduces their new patriotic line of Chiae: Obama, Washington, Lincoln, and the Statue of Liberty. Apparently, they’ve also added a Hillary Clinton Chia®, presumably after the PUMAs initiated a letter-writing campaign.

Figure 2: Homepage of

I just hope that next year I can be the proud owner of a Chia® Chester A. Arthur.