Putnam brand announces it supports Paula Deen
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- While several national companies are severing ties with Paula Deen, one local food manufacturer has stepped up to support the embattled celebrity chef.
Tasty Blend Foods was one of nine companies to release statements of support for Deen following her tearful interview on NBC's "Today" show Wednesday morning.
"We appreciate her commitment and how she stepped up and apologized to her viewers, fans and the nation," the company said in a statement.
The Putnam County company is known locally for its Teays Valley brand biscuit and gravy mixes. But the company also manufactures biscuit, cornbread and muffin dry mixes sold under the Paula Deen brand.
Deen has come under fire over the last week after admitting in a deposition that she had used the "n-word," though she testified it was "a very long time ago."
Specifically, Deen admitted to using the racial slur in 1987 after an African-American customer attempted to rob the bank she was working in and held a gun to her head.
She also said at one point she wanted to hire black men dressed like slaves to work at a wedding, according to a copy of the deposition.
Her testimony was the result of a discrimination lawsuit filed against Deen by former employee Lisa Jackson, who claims sexual and racial discrimination at the hands of Deen and her brother, Earl "Bubba" Heirs.
National companies, including the Food Network, Walmart, Target, Smithfield Foods and Home Depot, have severed ties with Deen following the release of her testimony. The deposition was first reported on by the National Enquirer.
Deen spoke with NBC's Matt Lauer Wednesday in her first public interview following the revelations. She said she has no tolerance for prejudice.
"I believe that every creature on this earth, every one of God's creatures was created equal," Deen said.
She said the day she used the racial epithet "was a world ago" and said it was the only time she used it.
"If there's anyone out there that has never said something that they wish they could take back, if you're out there, please pick up that stone and throw it so hard at my head that it kills me," Deen said during the interview. "I want to meet you. I want to meet you."
Following the Today show broadcast, Tasty Blend, through Deen's public relations team, released their statement of support.
The company said it was "very pleased" with the interview and will continue to partner with her.
"We personally endorse Paula Deen and what she stands for," the statement said.
"We are very saddened that she is being judged by her past, everyone has made a mistake sometime in their lives," the company said. "We look forward to our continued partnership with her."
Visitors to the company's Facebook page have left messages both supporting and criticizing the company's support of Deen.
"So impressed with the professionalism of how your company responded to Paula Deen ...You have a new loyal customer," one supporter wrote.
However, one critic said, "your (sic) disgusting for keeping Paula Deen says a lot about where you come from. Carry on jokers."
Tasty Blend officials did not return requests to comment further on the matter Thursday.
Contact writer Jared Hunt at email@example.com or 304-348-4836.