Travis Kelce’s New Business Venture Isn’t a Touchdown With Chiefs Fans

By and large, Travis Kelce has something of the Midas touch. The Kansas City Chiefs tight end has carved out an impressive career on the National Football League (NFL) gridiron. Away from Arrowhead Stadium, he co-hosts a successful podcast, has appeared on Saturday Night Live and, thanks to Taylor Swift, is pushing further into mainstream popular culture.

However, that doesn’t mean that everything he touches automatically turns to gold. And a relatively new business venture is an example of that reality.

Kelce has released a line of refrigerated barbeque entrees and, as you might expect, that hasn’t gone over well with Chiefs fans who know their high-quality meats. In fact, No. 87 has been getting raked over the coals online.

Let’s check it out.

Travis Kelce BBQ
Travis Kelce talks to the media during a press conference on Friday in Frankfurt, Germany. The tight end’s prepackaged meals earned a cold reception from Chiefs fans.
Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Kelce’s Refrigerated Meals Receive a Cold Reception

When it comes to modern Kansas City Chiefs, Kelce is one of the most popular men around. That doesn’t give him a blank check, though.

As reported by local news station Fox4 KC, the tight end “is making his way into the barbeque industry with a new assortment of refrigerated entrees.” Those products, which are exclusively sold at Walmart under the “Travis Kelce’s Kitchen” brand, range from burnt ends with mac & cheese to sausage and meatball marinara with peppers and onions.

Given that Kansas City is known for its barbeque, though, those are the options that caught the attention of most Chiefs fans. And, for the most part, the reactions weren’t pretty.

“‘Walmart BBQ’…. I think you’ve already answered your own question, my friend,” Reddit user NoisePollutioner wrote Wednesday in a post on the Chiefs subreddit asking if anyone had tried the product.

“He maybe a great TE but im not trying frozen BBQ. I dont even trust the Gordon Ramsey frozen stuff hes now selling. Kinda shocked with as many shows and restaurants he owns he would sign off on selling crappy frozen food,” u/13mizzou added.

Elsewhere in the replies, user vVv-ThirdEye-vVv summed up much of the general sentiment, simply writing, “I love Travis, but I won’t do this.”

There were, however, some responses that viewed things through a wider lens.

“It’s not for us, Reddit user thegreatgiroux explained. “It’s for people to try ‘KC’ BBQ around the country. Might not be bad for them but it’s not really for KC natives lol.” For what it’s worth, that comment kicked off a discussion about misrepresenting Kansas City barbeque and KC Masterpiece sauce.

One user, siloxanesavior, even claimed to have tried the product, albeit not out of a Walmart refrigerator. “I had his Kelce’s Kitchen BBQ straight from the buffet table at the Kelce Car Jam VIP room and it was decent but nothing that competes with local bbq staples,” they wrote. “So even before it’s frozen and packaged and sold at Walmart it’s nothing to talk about.”

Newsweek reached out to Walmart for comment through their “Contact Media Relations” page.

Kelce’s Branding Effort Does Make Sense

While it’s easy to feel like Kelce’s packaged meals are a cynical attempt to cash in on his popularity, the move is rather logical. Ever since he’s been linked to Swift, the tight end’s stock has gone through the roof.

At the tail end of September, sales of Kelce’s jersey experienced a nearly 400 percent boost, CNN reported. There was also an increase in bets placed on the tight end, and NFL broadcasts couldn’t help making a variety of Swift-related puns whenever he stepped into the spotlight.

With that extra attention, bulking out your personal brand and selling pre-made meals seems like a savvy move. Kelce is becoming a household name; Kansas City is associated with barbeque. Combine those two, and you’ve got a recipe (pun not intended) to catch the eye of a curious consumer.

And, given the fact that he’s underpaid by NFL standards, who could blame him for trying to make a few more bucks?