Penzeys facing firestorm after owner slams Trump
Penzeys, a Wauwatosa-based company famous for its spices, is in the middle of a political firestorm after its owner slammed President-elect Donald Trump and the voters who supported him.
"The open embrace of racism by the Republican Party in this election is now unleashing a wave of ugliness unseen in this country for decades," Bill Penzey Jr. wrote in a Tuesday night email to the company's mailing list. "The American people are taking notice."
Penzey followed up with a Facebook post titled "Cooking trumps Racism."
On Facebook, he praised Republicans who refused to back Trump but slammed those who voted for him.
"You just voted for an openly racist candidate for the presidency of the United States of America," Penzey wrote.
And he urged Trump voters to make amends by donating to civil liberties or anti-hate groups.
"You really are a good bunch, but you just committed the biggest act of racism in American history since Wallace stood in the schoolhouse doorway 53 years ago," he wrote. "Make this right. Take ownership for what you have done and begin the pathway forward."
His comments have caused a social media firestorm, with his Facebook posts drawing thousands of comments and shares.
In a follow-up email, Penzey told subscribers Tuesday's statement "made history for us as the most shared and most commented on email we ever sent."
"If you have not already read it, please do," he wrote Wednesday.
Some applauded Penzey's stance, while others said they would never shop at Penzeys again and called for a boycott.
Meanwhile, the owner of The Spice House sought to distance the store from its competitor.
"We are fielding many calls today from folks angry with another spice company. While I am related by family to that company's owner, our companies are not related in any way," read a post on the company's Facebook page. "My husband and I are very careful to never bring politics or personal opinions into our spice company, they have no business there. We value all of our customers so very much. Heck, I would not even want to get into a subjective debate over which cinnamon is the best!"
This isn't the first time Penzey has taken a strong political stance.
In 2013, Penzey weighed in on Indian mascots. Amid a debate over the issue, Penzeys mailed packages of "kind" spices and a letter to people in Mukwonago, home of the Mukwonago Indians.
"I know for you this issue really is about tradition and honoring those who came before," Penzey wrote in the letter. "But sometimes with greater understanding comes the knowledge that the path kindness best follows is a brand-new road."
He's also said in a past newsletter that Waukesha County is full of people who fled west to escape Milwaukee's diversity.