Travis Kelce's Kitchen & Walmart

The Lempert Report
October 31, 2023

On the Bullseye - Kansas City's BBQ roots can be traced back to the early 20th century when Henry Perry, known as the "father of Kansas City BBQ," began selling smoked meats from a cart in the Garment District. His operation eventually moved to a permanent location, becoming the city's first BBQ restaurant. Unlike other barbecue traditions that may focus on a single meat (e.g., Texas with beef brisket), Kansas City BBQ is known for its diverse range of smoked meats, including pork, beef, chicken, and even fish. One of the most distinctive features of Kansas City BBQ is its sauce. It's typically thick, tomato-based, and both sweet and tangy, often made with molasses and brown sugar. This sauce is liberally applied to the smoked meats. Following Henry Perry's pioneering establishment, many other BBQ joints opened up, and Kansas City soon became a major hub for barbecue enthusiasts. The American Royal World Series of Barbecue, hosted annually in Kansas City, is the world's largest BBQ competition. It attracts teams from around the world and has been instrumental in promoting the city's BBQ culture.  While Kansas City BBQ has deep-rooted traditions, many modern chefs and pit masters have introduced innovative techniques and flavors. Today we even find dishes that incorporate global flavors while maintaining the essence of traditional BBQ. When we scour the supermarket aisles we find tons of Kansas City BBQ sauces from restaurants: Gate's BBQ, Arthur Bryant's, Joe's Kansas City (BTW Travis Kelce's favorite - more on him in a bit), Fiorello's jack Stack, Burnt Finger and brands like Cowtown and of course KC Masterpiece which was originally founded in Kansas City but not associated with any restaurant.

Enter Travis Kelce, you know the guy who's become a multimedia sensation for his football prowess, as well as dating Taylor Swift, has introduced a new line of refrigerated entrees " Travis Kelce's Kitchen" inspired by Kansas City's most iconic flavors exclusively at select Walmart stores. The new line features seven dishes, including: Bacon Mac & Cheese – a Kansas City classic: jumbo macaroni noodles coated in a decadent cheddar cheese sauce infused with bacon morsels. Brisket Burnt Ends & BBQ Sauce – cuts of beef slow-cooked, caramelized, and topped with a signature Kansas City BBQ sauce. BBQ Baked Beans with Burnt Ends – baked black beans and white kidney beans, topped with brown sugar, bacon and onions, are paired with seasoned beef brisket burnt ends. Brisket Burnt Ends with Mac & Cheese – a combination of jumbo macaroni in a cheddar cheese sauce, complemented with charred and seasoned beef brisket burnt ends, Sliced Brisket in BBQ Sauce – brisket infused with the rich and smoky aroma of Kansas City-style BBQ sauce. BBQ Baked Beans with Sausage – baked black beans and white kidney beans are enhanced with a smoky barbecue flavor, sweetened with brown sugar, and enriched with bacon and aromatic onions, complemented by tender pork sausage. Sausage and Meatball Marinara with Peppers and Onions – sliced pork sausage with cheesy pork and beef meatballs in a marinara sauce sautéed with bell peppers and onions.  Retails between $8.17 and $12.78 depending on the variety.I haven't tasted the entrees yet - so I can't comment on the flavor, and I just received a couple hours ago the ingredients and nutritionals, more on those in a bit; but based on the current fervor over the Swift/Kelce romance and seeing what it's done to the attendance and viewership of Kelce's games - not to mention the viewership spike for SNL's guest appearances, I would say this is a brilliant move by Walmart! This past April Kelce hosted and curated Kelce Jam, a food and music festival that highlighted the best food vendors in Kansas City, and of course a special from his go-to - Joe's Kansas City BBQ. If Walmart promotes these products properly we can only imagine the new Swift-obsessed coming into Walmart - perhaps for the first time. Here's the problem and potential downside - the athlete's well-known own diet consists of steaks, chops and chicken - and according to his personal chef, Kumar Ferguson, everything he eats is for fuel, comfort, hydration and nutrition. Kelce even told the Food Network that Ferguson, a childhood friend, has helped him keep on the right path by eating 3 fresh meals a day and has helped him in nutrition and being able to eat better, cleaner and the right ingredients. His personal diet criteria doesn't translates to these fresh meals - the Mac & Cheese back panel that I just received shows that 1 serving, which is half of the 16 oz. package contains 350 calories - that's great - but has 18 grams of fat, 1130 mg of sodium, 32 grams of carbs - the good news is that it also has 13 grams of protein and no added sugars. But I wish that the recipe stuck to Travis' own diet regimen and clean up the ingredients, especially as they've put his pix on the back of the package! If they do that - the brand could be huge!

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