The Hatch Chile Trend is More Alive Than Ever, According to Produce Legend Karen Caplan

My article last month about how local supermarkets experienced a lackluster Hatch chile roasting season drew a letter from Karen Caplan, CEO and president of Frieda's Specialty Produce, the company that basically taught the United States how to eat once-rare fruits and vegetables like kiwis, habaneros, sunchokes and hundreds more. Because Karen is awesome and has forgotten more about food than I'll ever know, I turn the mic over to her. Take it away, Karen!

What an interesting observation of 2016 Hatch chile season in Southern California. We’re not sure where you’ve been getting your chiles but we can tell you that Hatch feeling has not been lost.

Perhaps you did not see a line at Ralphs because of our chile reservation system. Shoppers only show up at appointed time to pick up their pre-ordered cases, so there wasn’t any wait. Walk-ins were welcome and we were taking care of them efficiently.

Reservations for Orange County locations were all booked up within hours of our system being opened at 9 a.m. on Monday. Los Angeles and San Diego finally caught the Hatch Fever this year also. Our LA events were busier than last year, and both of our San Diego events were booked solid.

Perhaps you are right about the market saturation. Perhaps you are right that Hatch is becoming too “common” and not so special any more. But as a company who introduced over 200 specialty items that now have become commonplace like kiwifruit, spaghetti squash, and habanero, Hatch is becoming mainstream and that’s a good thing.

Sure, people love to be on what’s in and what’s new. But those fair-weather folks do not true Hatch Believer make. Hatch love runs deep. True chileheads and New Mexico natives who now call Orange County home will always want Hatch chiles—cases and cases of them.

We’ve spoken to New Mexico transplants and those with families out there (one of our employee included) who are appreciative of Hatch chile roasting events. It’s the experience and the flavor of home they can’t get anywhere else.

Hatch is more than a fad. Hatch is life. And we’re happy to be able to work with Ralphs in giving Hatch fans what they want, year after year.


Karen Caplan & Frieda’s Team

Good job, Karen. I agree with everything you wrote, as I am a #hatchbelievers. Let's hope SoCal ain't fickle, amiright?

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