The bad news for celebrity chef Paula Deen is that her empire is crumbling after she admitted using language that was racially derogatory. She was dropped by the Food Network, was a no-show on the Today Show, issued a badly edited apology times two, and dropped by pork producer Smithfield Foods. She rescheduled her appearance on the Today Show and gave a tearful apology. Within hours, more companies announced they would not be renewing her contract. Wal-Mart had been selling her branded cookware, kitchen appliances, dishware, and baked goods, but will not place any additional orders. Target, also, will sell what they have in stock. Home Depot is no longer selling her branded cookware and kitchen items on their website.
It isn’t just the Paula Deen brand merchandise and packaged baked goods that are losing ground. Caesars Entertainment Corporation has stopped operation of her restaurants at four of its casinos. Novo Nordisk, manufacturer of the non-insulin drug Victoza, had planned to have the chef be the spokeswoman for the “Diabetes in a New Light” educational campaign, but now has suspended its relationship with her. Victoza is injected and used to treat type 2 diabetes.
Despite all of the fallout, Paula Deen’s fans have rallied behind her. Interest in the annual Paula Deen cruise for 2014 has made it necessary to add a second one. Both cruises will be on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas. Groups are booked through outside travel agencies, not through the cruise ship company.
Her cookbooks are selling at lightning speed including one that hasn’t even been released yet. According to the online bookseller, Amazon.com, Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up, is to be released on October 15, 2013, but it already has an overall best seller’s rank of number one due to pre-orders. Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible has a number one best sellers ranking in the Cooking, Food, & Wine category.
The Southern chef from Georgia has garnered some high-profile supporters in recent days. Donald Trump tweeted that Paula Deen should be “given some credit for admitting her mistake.” Rev. Al Sharpton, a prominent civil rights leader, told TMZ.com that “a lot of us have in the past said things we have regretted saying years ago.” According to the Associated Press, Rev. Jesse Jackson said the chef should not become the “sacrificial lamb” because of her past use of the n-word 27 years ago. He went on to say that if she is sincere about not doing this again, then “she should be reclaimed.”
Whether or not this is the end of her career remains to be seen. Many of her fans feel the Food Network and other companies rushed to judgment. One thing is certain: Paula Deen is not the first celebrity to face a scandal.
Written by: Cynthia Collins