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And where’s all the spice?

Tim Nelson
May 30, 2018

For food companies marketing their products, posting recipes online is a standard part of the process. These recipes mostly find simple, natural ways to incorporate their star ingredient, and usually only garner the attention of a handful of moms and bored cooks. But one such attempt to shoehorn Dole’s fruits into a classic Jamaican dish is garnering attention for all the wrong reasons.

That’s because Dole’s take on “Caribbean Jerk Chicken” is less of an homage and more of an abomination, and the internet is furious.

This is what jerk chicken is supposed to look like:

And here’s what Dole came up with:

From a purely visual standpoint, this looks more like some kind of flavorless chicken tartare than the staple of West Indian cuisine.

A closer look at the ingredient list also shows exactly how Dole badly misses the mark. A tiny amount of thyme and red peppers (no more than half a teaspoon of either) and two teaspoons of honey mustard is all that Dole suggests one use to season 12 ounces of boneless chicken breasts (itself another deviation from how jerk chicken is usually presented).

But it’s when we get to the fruit that the horrific nature of this janky jerk becomes most apparent. It’s almost as if Dole views chicken not as the main element in this dish, but a canvas on which to place more fruit. You can sort of understand adding a dash of pineapple juice to give the (in this case underwhelming) spice a sweet kick, but three quarters of a cup threatens to drown out any other flavor. And just because bananas grow in the Caribbean doesn’t mean that they need to be anywhere this dish, either.

Then there’s the raisins. Oh god, why so many raisins? Not since the New York Times tried to trick people into putting peas in their guacamole has something so outrageous and wrong been suggested. Chadwick Boseman/T’Challa sums it up best:

Owing to intense backlash from people who have seen and eaten authentic jerk chicken before, Dole Packaged Foods’ has spent the past day tweeting out individual apologies to those incensed by their half-assed take on Caribbean food. It seems they see it as more of a “fusion” dish. Specifically, a fusion between their fruit products and something that bears a passing resemblance to Jerk chicken.

So let that be a lesson to you, food companies: if you want to co-opt a culture’s signature dish, you better come correct. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy some diced peaches and romaine lettuce for the gumbo I’m making tonight.  

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