Paula Deen empire crumbles: Target, drug firm part ways with cook

<i>This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.</i>

Paula Deen awoke to more bad news Thursday: Target and a Danish pharmaceutical company are curtailing their financial relationships with the celebrity cook.

Target Corp. said Thursday it will phase out its Paula Deen-branded cookware and other items, according to the Associated Press: “Once the merchandise is sold out, we will not be replenishing inventory,” Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said.

Meanwhile, a statement released Thursday morning by a Danish pharmaceutical company that markets medication for Type 2 diabetes said: “Novo Nordisk and Paula Deen have mutually agreed to suspend our patient education activities for now, while she takes time to focus her attention where it is needed.”


PHOTOS: The Paula Deen scandal

A spokesman for Novo Nordisk underscored the word “suspend” and said many news outlets were inaccurately reporting that Deen was “dumped” or “dropped.” He said it is unclear when, or if, a working relationship with Deen would resume. “It’s too early to tell. We haven’t made a decision on timing.”

The official statement appears to hedge the company’s bets, as well as recognize the work Deen has done:

“Novo Nordisk would like to acknowledge Paula’s involvement in our Diabetes in a New Light campaign, where she has helped make many people aware of Type 2 diabetes and the lifestyle changes needed to control this serious disease.”

Target and Novo Nordisk are the latest brands to distance themselves from the Queen of Southern Cooking after an uproar that erupted last week when she was portrayed in court documents and the media as a somewhat casual user of a racial slur. Deen says that portrayal is part of a cruel smear campaign and does not reflect who she truly is, and what she truly believes.

Deen went on the “Today” show Wednesday to address the allegations, with mixed results. She insisted that she had used the slur in olny one instance -- after she was held up at gunpoint about 30 years ago by an black man who robbed the bank where Deen was working at the time.

Although many have rushed to Deen’s defense, others questioned the 66-year-old chef’s sincerity. Still others felt that Matt Lauer treated Deen too harshly, and never gave her a chance to fully express herself.

In the wake of the allegations, Food Network also parted ways with Deen, along with a string of other companies including Smithfield Foods, Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Caesars casinos.

[For the Record, 12:47 p.m. PDT July 27: An earlier version of this post stated that Novo Nordisk was ending its financial relationship with Deen. Company spokesman Ken Inchausti said it continues to have a business relationship with Deen, but that it will no longer use her at the center of its marketing and educational campaigns.]


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