Some recent listings from the fresh produce section (Image: Tina Tiller)
Some recent listings from the fresh produce section (Image: Tina Tiller)

KaiSeptember 17, 2021

The weird and wonderful world of Trade Me’s ‘fresh produce’ section

Some recent listings from the fresh produce section (Image: Tina Tiller)
Some recent listings from the fresh produce section (Image: Tina Tiller)

From rude fruit and veg to past-its-best fast food, you’ll find it in this dusty corner of the internet. Olivia Sisson rounds up some recent highlights. 

When New Zealanders want to buy or sell something, Trade Me is the first port of call.

In America, my home country, it’s Craigslist. 

While Trade Me is a trusted brand bordering on national treasure, Craigslist is completely obscure. Its appearance, for one, is bizarre, and has hardly changed since the platform launched in 1999 (see below).

Every single American has either been scammed on Craigslist, or knows someone who has. Forget tidy negotiations, bank transfers and courier pickups. Once you decide to buy something on Craigslist, the experience takes on a life of its own. The next steps include arranging a meet-up with the seller, haggling in person and paying cash on the spot if the goods are legit.

Outcomes on Craigslist vary widely. A teen once used the site to trade his way from an old cell phone to a new Porsche. And on the other end of the spectrum, more than 100 murders have been linked to the site.

With this wild context, I was highly suspicious of Trade Me upon moving to New Zealand.

Three years on and I’ve come full circle. Spurred on by my partner who flipped a pair of cricket undies (washed) on the platform at age nine, I’m now a near-obsessed Trade Me shopper. 

The “fresh produce” section is my absolute favourite. It is Trade Me’s wild west, minus the violence. This dusty corner of the internet, buried five categories deep, is home to listings that delight, confuse, enrage, and sometimes even make the news. 

With that, here are my favourite fresh produce listings. One of them recently sold for $4,000 and others are just heating up. 

Giant garlic

This vendor, @wefixsnoring, sells giant garlic and used office equipment. That’s it.

The garlic is always shown with a can of Red Bull for scale but “won’t give you wings”.

Blue Pepsi

At some stage I bid on these rare fizzy drinks. They’re back after 17 years!

And why are they blue? Because they are.

Rare delicacy GIANT PUFFBALL

I tried in vain to win this rare delicacy GIANT PUFFBALL mushroom.

This listing caused a ruckus in the online fungi community. It’s not actually rare and probably wouldn’t have been safe to eat by the time the auction ended.

I tried to contact the successful bidder but never heard back. Hopefully they’re still with us.

Heart Potato Novelty

This listing’s description says it all… 

“A heart found in nature is a sign of love. Heart Shape Potato in pretty packaging. Grown naturally. Gift for your chef/cook sweetheart or valentine. Spudly has a face made by God, not man made.”

X-rated spud

Behold Heart Shape Potato’s exact opposite… X RATED SPUD.

Free shipping.

Dodgy kūmara

Starchy humour is well stocked in this Trade Me niche. 

“Dodgey Kumara… reasonably fresh.”

Orange giving birth

“The unofficial 69th wonder of the world. Get your piece of history right here right now, a super rare orange giving birth. Leonardo da Vinci has called this piece “exquisite”. Van Gogh “I would lose my other ear for that” With reviews like this, what are you waiting for? Get in quick.”

Someone get this seller a copywriting job.

Rare Covid-19 fish and chips

Listed during lockdown. Seller was willing to swap for a Ferrari, 64 Impala, RX2…. or a house.

No bids.

Super rare KFC Tower Burger

Once the lockdown listings started coming… they didn’t stop.

This one went for $200 in the end. And that $200 went to Barnardos. Everyone loves a charity auction.

An entire pallet of Dole bananas

4,200 bananas auctioned to support Oke Charity.

Not sure who won this one, but 100% sure they’re driving the banana bread trend.

Heart-shaped yam

Wham, bam, what a love yam! 

Oddly shaped carbs deserve their own sub-category. 

Half loaf of Vogel’s

I’ll close with this one as it’s the most famous…

On the first day of lockdown I saw a new listing pop up during my daily scroll of fresh produce… for a partial loaf of Vogel’s bread.

Long story short, these slices went on to become Trade Me’s fifth-most-viewed listing ever, the seller got on the news, and the comment section went OFF. 

I read them all so you don’t have to. Here’s the best bit…

Amid the humorous listings there are genuinely good products to be had in fresh produce. Like this elephant-shaped carrot I won recently:

Keep going!