Paula Deen's Corporate Culinary Empire Comes Crumbling Down
We know Paula Deen as the maven of Southern cooking, the accidental racist, and these days, the scourge of butter-lovers everywhere, including us. However, in looking for an article on her ejection from the Food Network, I was truly shocked to find exactly how many projects she's involved in. We knew about her show and her cookbooks, and we even knew about the sketchy insulin endorsement, but check out this list:
1) Paula Deen cookbooks, of which I counted 20
2) Her (ex) cooking show, Home Cooking with Paula (she has had two additional shows in the past)
3) Her Smithfield Ham endorsement
4) The Novo Nordisk insulin endorsement
5) the "Cooking with Paula Deen" magazine
5) The annual Paula Deen cruise
6) Her six restaurants
7) Her line of cooking products, stocked at Wal-Mart, Sears, and QVC
Jump down Deen's corporate rabbit hole and it's easy to wonder: Just how often are we being sold a personal brand, or a panoply of products without even knowing it?
If you'd asked me last week, I'd have guessed that Deen had her cooking show and her cookbooks, because that's how she was marketed. Good ol' Paula, with her down-home recipes and easy wholesome appeal. Awww, look at her working with her sons and brother, isn't that cute? Golly gee, she sure does know how to whip up some Southern classics... Except not, because in reality Paula was a shady business juggernaut, one whose sovereignty is falling apart as tragically as the empires of yore.
We'll see how her public image fares — supporters have flocked to her restaurants threatening to boycott Food Network for canceling her show, but I, for one, feel quite finished with Deen. The diabetes-inducing calorie queen was gimmicky but manageable. The back-door salesman building an empire on cholesterol version is a little bit less appealing.