One of the key themes of the movie is the outright rejection of Western materialism, exemplified in a scene in which Roberts' character emails her friends and tells them not to get her anything for her birthday. Instead, she wants them to donate money to a friend she met on her travels, a poor Indonesian woman left destitute after her divorce. For you see, true happiness comes not from hoarding useless possessions, but from the simple pleasure you get from helping out the disadvantaged. Fans of the film celebrated its anti-materialism message by buying lots and lots and lots of Eat Pray Stuff.
Through tote bags, fashion lines, tour packages, restaurant tie-ins, embroidered pillows, jewelry, gelato machines, goddamn lip gloss, and more, any and every company that could fudge even a tangential reference to Eat Pray Love wound up hocking tie-in merchandise for massive sales. The Home Shopping Network ran a straight 72 hours of promotions for such products. According to marketers, Eat Pray Love made history with the success of its merchandising bonanza. Holy shit, did anyone stay awake during the movie?
The irony is apparently lost even on Elizabeth Gilbert, the woman who wrote the original book based on her real experiences. According to her, "It's weird for me to go into Starbucks and see the Eat Pray Love soundtrack for sale ... Most people don't have the resources to be able to go travel around the world for an entire year. Maybe buying a candle that reminds you of that story is as close as they can get to that."