Paula Deen Business Partners Write Letters of Support
UPDATED: Several companies are standing by the former Food Network chef during her darkest hour.
Hours after Paula Deen tearfully denied accusations of racism on Today, several of the former Food Network personality's business partners are stepping forward with letters of support.
On Wednesday, seven companies and brands partnered with Paula Deen Foods, including Epicurean Butter and Landies Candies, issued statements standing by the embattled celebrity chef, who was dropped by the Food Network as well as from her endorsement deal with pork company Smithfield in the wake of her admission to having used a racial slur.
"Count Epicurean Butter as a partner that supports Paula Deen," stated the company, which produces her "Southern Grillin' Butter," among other spreads. "Her appearance on the Today show clearly proved her authentic belief that all people should be treated equal. Paula is due equal treatment as well, as a person that made a mistake, apologized for it and should be allowed to move on. Actions speak louder than words, let's focus on the good that Paula Deen does for the extended community of loyal followers."
Larry Szrama, the president of The Landies Candies company, which makes Deen's sugar-free chocolates and other sweets, wrote: "Paula, from all of us at Landies Candies, we admire your honesty, strength, and most of all who you are as person. Your interview this morning reaffirms who you really are and what you believe. We count it a privilege to be your friend and business partner and look forward to sweet success in the future."
Other businesses providing letters were: IQ Craft, Club Marketing Services, Harvest NA, Sandridge Food Corporation and Tasty Blend Foods.
Meanwhile, Caesars Entertainment Corporation, which houses Deen-branded restaurants in four of its casinos in Indiana, Illinois, North Carolina and Mississippi, has cut ties with Deen, CNN reports. In a statement Wednesday, the company said: "While we appreciate Paula's sincere apologies for statements she made in her past ... we have mutually decided that it is in the best interests of both parties to part ways at this time."
The status of her business relationships with companies that carry her cookware line and other products -- such as Target, Sears, Walmart and QVC -- remains up in the air. As for her bimonthly magazine, Cooking With Paula Deen, Hoffman Media remains mum on whether it will continue the publication and has maintained it does not condone "discrimination of any kind." And although Deen is set to release a new book, Paula Deen's New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up, in mid-October, Random House says it's "closely monitoring the situation" surrounding the comfort-food icon.
The 66-year-old Deen, who's embroiled in a discrimination lawsuit brought by a former restaurant employee, fervently dismissed charges of racism when grilled by Matt Lauer while in the Today show hot seat, saying: "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. Please. I want to meet you." She added: "I'm not changing -- there's someone evil out there who saw what I worked for and wanted it."
When asked whether she knew "the n-word" was offensive to black people, Deen -- seemingly unaware of the historical significance of the word -- responded: "I don't know. I have asked myself that so many times. It's very distressing for me to go into kitchens and hear what these young people are calling each other. ... I think for this problem to be worked on, these young people are gonna have to take control and start showing respect for each other."