Friday, February 3, 2012

Corporate Pepper

I stepped out this morning and discovered the white foam perishables container on my step. Already -they've arrived. I hadn't informed the Sunset produce representative who contacted me that I had blogged about the episode after I lodged a complaint that their peppers tasted like mothballs. Poor form? Maybe, so I won't be able to relay our exact conversation, but I think I can deliver the gist.

First contact was the rather stiff, corporate kind. The rep called it an 'off-flavor' and appreciated that it was brought to their attention. They wanted to have my number for a phone conversation and the original packaging. I couldn't deliver either, so I forwarded the rep a hi-res photo of the package that I used for the last blog post.

Sunset Inc.'s style of communication became a bit more conversational after I sent them the image. Afterward, I was told they were able to get any important information needed from it so that they could do a 'full product trace.' They did believe the incident was 'isolated,' however, they would be contacting the grower to ensure that 'best practices' were 'occurring at the farm level.' They assured me that no other complaints of this kind had been filed.

To 'reaffirm my confidence' in their product, they politely asked if they could have my address so that they could send me a complimentary package of Ancient Sweets. I cannot say enough how much that name gets under my skin, but still I said yes. There was no way they were going to send me another mothballed pepper. In fact, they probably have a locker full of the biggest, cleanest, sweetest, bestest long red peppers just for this type of problem. I placed the quarter at the bottom so you could see how large these peppers are. Incidentally, this new bag of peppers was grown in Mexico, not Nicaragua, as my original package had shown.

In the final communication the representative thanked me for 'allowing them to show their gratitude' and apologized for the 'inconvenience' and 'off-flavor.' Their 'Procurement Team' had been in contact with the grower yet found nothing outstanding that would lead to that taste. New peppers are just about out the door of their 'facility' and I should expect them shortly. And the last sentence from the last email regarding my mothballed peppers:

'As a reminder, always wash your produce with cool potable water before consuming.'


  1. Wow. I am so amazed that the company contacted you after reading about your blog post. It's good that they wanted to fix the problem. I hope the newer peppers were tastier.

  2. No no, they didnt contact me until I contacted them! The new peppers were much better.

  3. I'm still pretty impressed that they were so quick to rectify the problem. Glad they are trying to resolve the issue. It's disturbing that the first group of peppers tasted like moth balls. It's scary to think what could have made them taste like that. Do you think there was something in the soil perhaps?

  4. I think napthalene or the other one that is like it may be used as mold-inhibitor. Peppers can get moldy pretty easy. But then, I'm just guessing.

  5. Blech. The whole thing is kind of creepy! Good that they at least sent you some non-mothball-tasting replacements. I'm with you on that name, by the way.

  6. I am enjoying the pepper wars, as creepy as they are.

  7. I am impressed that you would give the company a chance and try their replacement peppers. I'm always turned off when a company wants to give me more of a product that I found unsatisfactory.

    I have noticed a weird scent/ flavor on certain packaged foods- not mothball, but more perfume-like. And it's usually food that's ON SALE!

  8. There was little chance in hell the replacement peppers were going to taste so bad. That would be really bad for them. But I won't be looking for these peppers -and I usually avoid greenhouse vegetables in general.

    And you are right, the low price is usually for a good reason -not selling, inferior quality.


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