Tuesday, April 16, 2024
BusinessFood + Hospitality

‘Yellowstone’ Is Trying to Take Over Your Kitchen

Just two tough dudes drinking coffee. | Paramount

Taylor Sheridan’s Western drama has spawned a massive merch empire that includes everything you could want to eat like a Dutton

I am not ashamed to admit that I watch — and deeply enjoy — the TV show Yellowstone. Created by Taylor Sheridan, the hugely popular series features John Dutton (Kevin Costner) and his band of good-looking cowboys doing cowboy stuff, punching each other, and occasionally murdering people. There is also a very saucy woman named Beth (Kelly Reilly) who provides lots of pithy, vulgar commentary, which is really all I need in a dramatic, gratuitously violent television program. What I do not need, however, is for that television show to infiltrate my kitchen.

In the years following its 2016 premiere, Yellowstone has become a bonafide cultural juggernaut, complete with all the products you could need to make you feel like a wealthy, gravel-voiced Montana rancher. There are Yellowstone T-shirts and Western-wear collections inspired by the show’s cowboy costumes. There’s even Yellowstone-branded furniture for people who want to recreate the luxe-rustic vibe of John Dutton’s picturesque ranch house (I’ve seen it in person and it’s stunning). I guess it was inevitable that the deluge of Yellowstone merch extend to the kitchen.

If I want to eat like a Dutton, there are a slew of products that will allegedly help me do just that. Via the website, super fans of the show can purchase a bounty of Yellowstone-branded eats, including canned chili, smoked burnt ends, bacon, barbecue rubs, and bacon-topped macaroni and cheese. There are cans of baked beans, breakfast sausage, coffee, and Angus beef jerky sticks. If you do not have anything in which to prepare your bacon mac, you could buy a Yellowstone-branded cast iron skillet made in collaboration with Lodge, and stir it with a spatula branded with the show’s “Y” logo. You can even pull the dish out of the oven with a Yellowstone oven mitt emblazoned with “Protect The Family,” a nod to the Dutton family’s obsession with its own self-preservation. (A sensible preoccupation, I suppose, considering how many gun fights these people end up in.)

Once your Yellowstone-branded meal is ready, you can serve it on Yellowstone dishes, sold at Walmart for around $50 per set, each of which is inspired by a different character from the series. The John Dutton dishes are a dark, brooding blue, while the Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes) collection is a little more rugged and neutral, both in keeping with the vibe of their respective characters.

With every piece of Yellowstone merch, Sheridan is capitalizing on making this universe accessible to those of us who don’t own thousands of acres of land in Montana. Cosplaying cowboy life has long been a thing, just look to the tourists flocking to Bozeman and the TikTok girlies spending $800 on Kemo Sabe hats in Aspen. The Yellowstone merch universe is attempting to sell you on a similar lifestyle of rustic simplicity, assuming you can forget that John Dutton is worth millions of dollars and wouldn’t be caught dead with Walmart dishes on his table. It costs a lot of money to run a cattle ranch, and requires even more hard work, which is why most people don’t get into ranching. But opening a can of chili that makes you feel a little bit like a cowboy while wearing your Yellowstone-branded cowboy hat and Yellowstone Wranglers? Nothing could be easier.

And Sheridan is continually offering up ways to buy into the fantasy. If you want to venture even further into the Yellowstone universe, you can order a Prime steak directly from Sheridan’s 6666 Ranch, where he raises “genetically superior Angus” beef across thousands of acres in central Texas. The ranch has made multiple appearances on the show, and rumors have swirled for months about a spin-off series centered around the ranch that could potentially star Matthew McConaughey. When it arrives, don’t be surprised if Sheridan capitalizes on that show’s eventual success with a new line of wood-fired barbecue smokers, complete with recipes created by chef Gabriel “Gator” Gilbeau, who both appears in Yellowstone as Dutton’s private chef and endorses the show’s culinary merch in real life.

By then, Sheridan’s original cash cow may be put out to pasture. What is particularly amusing about this onslaught of Yellowstone merch, which first started trickling out in 2020, is that the future of Yellowstone itself is in serious peril. New episodes haven’t been on the air since 2022, and Sheridan and Costner have been engaged in a lengthy (and public) feud over the series’ future. The show’s final episodes are projected to air in late 2024, but once they’re out, Yellowstone will officially be a thing of the past.

There have also been fights over who exactly is allowed to make money off of food that is associated with Yellowstone. Sheridan sued fan favorite Cole Hauser, who stars as Dutton’s enforcer Rip Wheeler, when he launched his own coffee company last year, because the logo looked “too similar” to Sheridan’s coffee company logo. Notably, Sheridan’s brand is called Bosque Ranch, which indicates that Sheridan has plans to stay in the food business well after Yellowstone ends.

Only time will tell how fans feel about the Yellowstone brand after the show concludes. Will they still want to eat like a Dutton once everyone’s moved on to a new show and the Duttons are just a distant memory? What is clear, though, is that Sheridan has an incredible ability to create a merchandising opportunity around damn near anything, and that’s a model that will only become more common with other shows that have an equally firm chokehold on the zeitgeist. I can’t wait for Stranger Things-inspired frozen pizza or The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Tupperware containers to hit the shelves. Oh wait, those both already exist.

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