Friday, while on Facebook, one of my friends posted this little item from the iPad newspaper, The Daily.
Paula “put a burger and bacon and a fried egg between two donuts” Deen rumored to have type 2 diabetes? It would have been more shocking if she didn’t. The cuisine featured at her restaurant in Savannah, The Lady and Sons, as well as her show on The Food Network, has staggeringly high amounts of fat, sugar, and salt. Come on, when my own mom, the queen of baked goods and goddess of buttercream, disdains Paula Deen’s dessert recipes as being too sweet, something is definitely wrong here.
So, I went on Twitter with this smartass Tweet:
ChristianeTrue Jan 13, 11:14am via HootSuite
Paul Deen: 1.Promote fatty, sugary cuisine to TV audience. 2.Promote Novartis diabetes Rx to same audience. 3.Profit! ow.ly/8stdN
A bunch of us (including Matthew Herper of Forbes, Brian Reid of WCG, and Sally Church of Icarus Consultants) started a frenzy of speculation about which Novartis drug it could be – and we quickly concluded that it couldn’t be Novartis, as their main diabetes drug is not approved in the United States. Novartis actually sent a correction to The Huffington Post, confirming that they were NOT working with Ms. Deen.
Eventually, we started to speculate that it could be Novo Nordisk. I sent an e-mail query to Novo Nordisk’s corporate communications people on Friday, but never heard back from them. Come on, folks, I am not that hard to find.
Now, today, Paula Deen has announced she has type 2 diabetes and she is working with Novo Nordisk, in a campaign called “Diabetes in a new light.” The Novo Nordisk Website copy is punctuated with Ms. Deen’s folksy patter – “ya’ll” and “ya” in abundance – and features lighter versions of her famous artery-clogging recipes. And there are tie-ins to her brands – the version of the Lady and Sons lasagna recipe features “Paula Deen’s House Seasoning” and “Paula Deen’s Seasoned Salt.”
The recipe itself is rather a horror – besides parmesan, nonfat ricotta, and reduced fat mozzarella, it includes low-fat cottage cheese, reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, Gruyere cheese, and reduced fat cream cheese. Oh, and bell peppers. And no garlic. If I offered this to my Italian relatives, they’d be insulted.
Back in August, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain took Ms. Deen to task over her cuisine, calling her the “most dangerous person to America.” But he says he is taking no pleasure from the news. But this quote is classic: “When your signature dish is a hamburger in between a doughnut, and you’ve been cheerfully selling this stuff knowing all along that you’ve got Type 2 Diabetes … It’s in bad taste if nothing else.”
And seriously, Novo Nordisk? Seriously? I know you have a great program going with race car driver Charlie Kimball, who has type 1 diabetes. And that you’ve extended that sponsorship program for another year, which is also really great news. Type 1 diabetes can be a devastating diagnosis, and for children and young teens, Charlie Kimball is a great example of success.
But Ms. Deen’s blatant disingenousness about her condition (that she may have been diagnosed as long ago as 2008) and that her own cuisine may have contributed to her condition, plus her recipes shilling her own spice mixtures…seriously? She is not the example I’d want to be holding up as a marketer.
The look on my face right now is the same as Jonah Hill’s as he’s offered a bite of her cheeseburger meatloaf. “I’m not eating that,” he declares.
Good for you, Jonah. I’m not eating that – or buying Ms. Deen’s transformation into an oracle of healthy eating, either.