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Paula Deen Fans Launch National Protest
- jccarp, CNN iReport producer
Soon, the corporations that ditched Paula Deen last week for admitting she used the N-word after being held up at a bank where she worked 27 years ago will receive carefully crafted letters from outraged Paula Deen fans, written on butter wrappers.
The protest, launched on Friday and organized by John Schmitt is named, "Butter Wrappers for Paula," and its message is clear. "A corporation without Paula Deen is like a butter wrapper without butter."
"The wrappers will serve as tangible evidence of support for Paula," Schmitt said. "The visual impact of support backs up the effects of social media, emails and phone calls."
Paula Deen fans taking part in the campaign are pledging to sever ties with the same corporations that have ditched the Queen of Southern Cuisine, while rewarding those who have remained in the Deen camp.
Angry fans have taken to the phone lines and social media to express their disappointment in a deluge of comments on the Food Network Facebook fan page, as well as those of Deen's partners and sponsors.
"Good Bye Food Network; you WERE my most watched station; no more. Dropping Paula Deen was a mistake that will result in no more purchases from my household."
Schmitt is credited for launching the "We Support Paula Deen" Facebook fan page (https://www.facebook.com/WeSupportPaulaDean), which has amassed more than 550,000 supporters since June 21.
"I would like to see every person that is a part of the We Support Paula Deen movement send a wrapper in. Of course, ultimately, I would like to see a reversal in the decisions of these partners," Schmitt said.
Fans are responding to the effort with resounding support. One fan wrote,
"I used to drive across town to shop at Walmart, but since they are abandoning you at your most trying time, I will do the same for them."
And, another wrote, "Smithfield lost me as well as the Food Network."
Countless other fans have echoed these comments, and began submitting photos of Paula Deen products on the We Support Paula Deen Facebook page, where a list of Deen defectors has been maintained since the launch of the Butter Wrappers for Paula campaign.
The controversy has caused sales of Paula Deen products to surge. Last week, pre-orders for Deen's most recent book, due for release in October, surged to the number-one slot on Amazon.com, just prior to Ballantine Books, its publisher, severing its agreement with Deen, canceling publication.
A national food blog, Stitches 'n Dishes created an Amazon storefront, featuring Paula Deen products in support of the campaign on Friday, and has pledged to donate all of the proceeds to The Bag Lady Foundation, a charitable organization founded by Deen in May, in addition to a $500 donation.
Throughout the weekend, more than 1,000 fans visited the website to purchase Paula Deen products that they would have previously purchased at retail behemoths, Target, Walmart, K-Mart, Sears, JC Penney and Walgreens.
"We're giving Paula Deen fans an opportunity to support Paula and her organization through their purchases," said Andrew Nicora, a spokesman for Stitches 'n Dishes. "Fans are purchasing products to show their support, so buying them at Stitches 'n Dishes makes those purchases even more meaningful."
A representative at The Bag Lady Foundation said, "we are a team and a family and are moved so much by the action from the fans."
Schmitt recalled when fans sent over nine tons of peanuts to CBS when it announced the cancellation of “Jericho” in 2007, which gave him the idea to launch a similar campaign. “And now I guess I'm doing some planning,” he said. “The last Christmas gift my mother gave to me before she died was a set of Paula Deen cookware. There’s a nostalgia for me. Somebody needs to step up and say something.”