Paula Deen fans are showing their displeasure at the retailers and networks that dropped her by buttering them up.
TODAY.com is reporting a campaign dubbed "Butter for Paula'' is encouraging Deen supporters to mail cleaned and folded butter wrappers to companies like Food Network, Home Depot and Walgreens, in protest over their decisions to sever ties with the celebrity chef in the controversy involving her admission of her past use of racial slurs. The campaign also lists addresses for all the company, including Food Network's Knoxville, Tennessee based headquarters.
Butter is one of Deen's trademark ingredients, and the campaign argues that "a company without Paula is like a wrapper without butter." The wrappers symbolize that her supporters are sticking with her. The campaign has been organized by John Schmitt, a hotel auditor in Indianapolis. Schmitt also started a Facebook page called "We support Paula Deen" on June 21 that has garnered more than 600,000 "likes."
The senders of the protest butter wrappers are encouraged to include their own note or one from the campaign's site that reads in part, "We're ashamed and outraged at the media's careless and negligent handling and reporting which has caused pain and devastation in so many innocent lives." The message then asks for Food Network to restore her contract and for retailers to again stock her product lines.
Forbes last year ranked Deen the fourth highest-earning celebrity chef. She made $4.5 million in 2008 and has been on an upward climb every year since, banking $17 million in 2012, according to the magazine. Forbes wealth reporter Caleb Melby told ABCNews.com that an estimated $2.5 million of Deen's earnings come from the Food Network, which was paying her about $50,000 an episode. The Smithfield deal, in which Deen served as a spokeswoman for the brand, including her own line of hams, since 2006, will likely cost her another $1 million to $2 million.