Paula Deen in the crosshairs

Target cuts ties with celebrity chef; drugmaker distances
Associated Press
Jun 28, 2013


Paula Deen's multimillion-dollar merchandise and media empire continues to unravel following revelations that she used racial slurs in the past.

Target Corp., Home Depot Inc. and diabetes drug maker Novo Nordisk on Thursday became the latest companies to distance themselves from the Southern celebrity chef.

Home Depot, which sold Paula Deen-branded cookware and kitchen products only online, said it pulled the merchandise off its website on Wednesday. And Target said that it will phase out its Paula Deen-branded cookware and other items in stores and on its website.

"Once the merchandise is sold out, we will not be replenishing inventory," said Molly Snyder, a Target spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, Novo Nordisk said it and Deen have "mutually agreed to suspend our patient education activities for now." Deen, who specializes in Southern comfort food, had been promoting the company's drug Victoza since last year when she announced she had Type 2 diabetes.

These are the latest blows dealt to Deen since comments she made in a court deposition became public. Last week, the Food Network said that it would not renew her contract. On Monday, pork producer Smithfield Foods dropped her as a spokeswoman. Then, on Wednesday, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's biggest retailer, said it too was cutting ties with Deen following a tearful "Today" show interview in which she said she's not a racist.

On the same day, Caesars Entertainment announced that Paula Deen's name is being stripped from four buffet restaurants owned by the company. Caesars said that its decision to rebrand its restaurants in Joliet, Ill.; Tunica, Miss.; Cherokee, N.C.; and Elizabeth, Ind., was a mutual one with Deen.

The stakes are high for Deen, who Forbes magazine ranked as the fourth highest-earning celebrity chef last year, bringing in $17 million. She's behind Gordon Ramsay, Rachel Ray and Wolfgang Puck, according to Forbes.

Deen's empire, which spans from TV shows to furniture and cookware, generates total annual revenue of nearly $100 million, estimates Burt Flickinger III, president of retail consultancy Strategic Resource Group.

But Flickinger says that the controversy has cost her as much as half of that business. He also estimates that she could lose up to 80 percent by next year as suppliers extricate themselves from their agreements.

"The accelerating domino effect is commercially disastrous for Paula Deen's empire," he said.

It's a dramatic fall from a woman who overcame her humble Southern roots and personal hardships to build a merchandising and media empire.

Deen, who grew up in Albany, Ga., was grappling with a failed marriage, the death of her parents and a prolonged battle with agoraphobia when she started her home-based catering business called The Bag Lady in June 1989, according to her company website.

Then a mother of two teenage boys, Jamie and Bobby, and on the verge of homelessness, she used her last $200 to start the catering business. She describes the business as delivering "lunch-and-love-in-a-bag." Five years later, she opened her first restaurant called The Lady and Sons in Savannah, Ga. Her first cookbook, "The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cookbook," came out in 1998.

Soon after, she had her first TV appearance on QVC. But it was when "Paula's Home Cooking," began airing on the Food Network in 2002 that she started to hit stardom, according to her site. Deen now has two shows airing on the Food Network: In addition to "Paula's Home Cooking," there's "Paula's Best Dishes," which made its debut in 2008.

Deen's empire has continued to grow over the years as her brand has blossomed.

In addition to her The Lady and Sons restaurant, Deen owns with her brother, Bubba, a seafood restaurant in Savannah called Uncle Bubba's Oyster House. Deen is the author of 14 cookbooks that have sold more than 8 million copies and her bimonthly magazine "Cooking with Paula Deen" has a circulation of nearly 1 million, according to her website. And Deen's product lines span from a full line of cookware to assorted food items to furniture.

Not every company Deen does business with has severed ties with the celebrity chef. Among other stores that sell her products, Kohl's Corp. declined to comment, while Macy's Inc. and Sears Holdings Corp. said they're evaluating the situation. QVC, meanwhile, said it's reviewing its deal with Deen.

And book-buyers are so far standing by Deen. As of Thursday afternoon, "Paula Deen's New Testament: 250 Recipes, All Lightened Up," remained No. 1 on The book is scheduled for October. Another Deen book, "Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible," is now at No. 5, up from No. 13 earlier in the day. Several other Deen books were out of stock.


AP National Writer Hillel Italie contributed to this report from New York.

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Maybe a sale on her cookware?

2cents's picture

What I do not understand is why people buy stuff based on a person pitching it! I would much rather have a high quality product made by a company that did not need a pitch person to take a big chunk of the profits. These people did not design the stuff, they are offered it to use on shows and somehow everyone thinks it is soooooo great. If I get another flexible hose email I could puke!

So she says the N word because she is now rich and feels like she can, do you think that means shirt to the ASAIN SLAVES making the cookware for the company that is selling it to the big box retailers that just dropped the lady for saying the word? No, this is all about the almighty dollar and the perception that people will think of them selling something she never designed, never made, only profited on as they have profited on her ability to please people on television and other. It is all about sales and marketing my friends, it has nothing to do with the N word!


Re: "...why people buy stuff based on a person pitching it!"

That isn't ALWAYS the motivation.

Try the Emeril Lagasse cookware - spouse loves it!

2cents's picture

I personally have enjoyed a lifetime of cooking, my mother was kind enough to teach me in grade school. At one time I thought my All clad was all that but I did not like the handle design, not broad enough and difficult to turn or twist to dump. I did a lot of research and reviewed dimensions rather that someone saying this is good stuff. I found Demeyere Thermolon Granite and the handles seemed to be larger for my larger hands. When on business I found a store that had these and was able to try them for fit and function. These are a little heavy but a dream to cook with and I use SS utensils without the concern of scratching the nonstick surface.

I also personally prefer Wüsthof cutlery for the same fit and function reason.

There you go again


You are free to buy whatever you want. Obama has not changed that yet!

Personally, I looked forward to visiting Deen's restaurant. By shutting her down over "a word", Americans will lose jobs because we have to be politically correct and not appear racist. Now rappers can sing their songs about Paual Deen and continie to use the N word. Boy, that really makes sense.......


Good points!

I used to enjoy watching the Neelys (black couple) on the Food Network.

Got a great potato salad recipe:

Goes GREAT with barbeque!

The Big Dog's back

Do you have Black "friends" too winnie?


The Big Dog's back writes: "1st of all I like Paula Deen."

So let's see you defend her. :)

(Second request)

The Big Dog's back

I musta missed your 1st "request".


Perusal, you miss A LOT.

See: "Racial slur costs Paula Deen big time."

2cents's picture

Not entirely true, I find it difficult many times to buy what I want because the quality of many household items has been degraded for price purpose, one cannot even find the quality desired at any price!


Dang, K-Mart's gonna be back in business here pretty soon.


She is a 66 year old woman raised in the deep south. I can almost guarantee she has said that word 5000 times! Not that she is a bad person, but they use it as much as y'all.
Think about it....


Don't hear anyone bashing Travon Martin for calling white people "crackers" as he supposedly did multiple times on the phone according to the prosecutors witness. Reverse race bashing always seems to be alright.

sandtown born a...

I can't believe you are picking on poor little innocent Travon Martin for saying cracker, he obviously was talking about saltines while looking at a Caucasian person. LMAO ! TRUE is the fact that discrimination is different when the races are reversed and anyone who can't admit that is obviously part of the problem

The Big Dog's back

So our resident racists 1st bring Obama into it, then Trayvon. Is MLK next? How about Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton.

sandtown born a...

I know your not calling me racist???? Al and Jessie have put them selves in the racist boat .


All I am saying is that the media is not blowing this (Travon) out of proportion like the Deen thing.

Both Jackson and Sharpton are TWO of the biggest racists of white people haters that I know of! They continue to stir the race pot.

sandtown born a...

For more interesting reading google Tawana Brawley it's sad to see the way this went down. It's all about the whites being racists when obviously the whole thing is much more one sided leaning the other way.

The Big Dog's back



I don't blame Rev. Al for that. The girl flat out LIED! On the flip side, how many times have we heard "it was a black guy" or " black guys with guns"? People lie!


Thanks big dog. I was thinking the same thing


I remember when this first happened. She went into hiding and changed her name so she wouldn't have to pay up in a lawsuit against her. Well they have found her and are now trying to make her pay. Maybe the good Rev. Sharpton, who fueled this hatred, will help her pay this.


It was "creepy cracker". Zimmerman is latino I think! The kid is dead. What do you want to happen to him?


It is perfectly acceptable for Kayne to say it? or how about JayZ? They make $$MILLIONS$$ off of it. BUT heaven FORBID a 60 something WHITE woman admit to using it. H$11 I give her credit for admitting to using it instead of lying about it like everyone else. Get over it. She used it, and admitted it. MOVE ON. Noone has a problem with Kayne or JayZ. Noone should have a problem with Paula. It seems a little hypocritical.


I don't think it is "perfectly" acceptable but we all need to get over it. I like Paula but the plantation wedding thing baffles me!


It must be perfectly acceptable...people buy the music by the people and white people buy it! Sounds to me like that makes it acceptable.


The Big Dog's back writes: "1st of all I like Paula Deen."

So let's see you defend her. :)

(Third request)


The Big Dog's back writes:

"Robert Byrd apologized about his past but that didn't matter to right wingers."

In his eulogy for Sen. Byrd, Pres. Clinton DEFENDED his joining the KKK because he said Sen. Byrd wanted to get elected.

Join an extremist white supremacist org. JUST to get elected and then later apologize - guess that makes it all better huh?

Liberal racist hypocrites.

The Big Dog's back

Do you have Black friends too winnie?
(2nd request)


Re: "Do you have Black friends too,?"

I have a black nephew and a black grand niece and grand nephew.

So yes. :)

Your turn.

The Big Dog's back

Are they your friends?

The Big Dog's back

I like a lot of people. Doesn't mean I would defend them.


Sounds like jungle fever runs in the family. Obamacare can't cure that!

The Big Dog's back

LMAO. Poor winnie.


Target will distance itself from a person who used a word that the majority of white people have used and probably still use. She broke no laws. But, the will continue to work with a convicted felon.

The Good Doctor

The "majority of white people have used and probably still use"! And, you don't have a problem with this? Hmmmm.


What N-word did she use? Non-stick?


She should have lied about it. When asked if she ever used it, she should have said "no" and let it drop. No one wants to hear the truth. It was 20 years ago and what does that have to do with her cooking abilities? Funny how some can say "I DID NOT HAVE SEX WITH THAT WOMAN" and they are still thought of as a great man.


Agreed! However, if "eatin' ain't cheatin" a little "you know" is no big deal either.

The Good Doctor

She was under oath and could not lie about it. The truth is she has used the word all of her life.


These places that are distancing themselves from Paula Dean, make Me want to vomit! She made a statement several years ago and is being literally crucified!!! Yet people can sell and use drugs several times and are given break after break. What the hell is wrong with this country. Ms dean made these companies MILLIONS and now just like that.....she's gone????? Same ole story anyone anywhere can say ANYTHING about a white person and its a joke....but let ONE white person say anything that is even remotely racist and they pounded on!!! Well I was never a Paula dean fan but now, I will no longer shop or watch any thing that has fired her

The Good Doctor

You will not be missed.


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