September 1, 2014

Medina
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Local food company backs Paula Deen

MEDINA — Locally owned Sandridge Food Corp. issued a news release Wednesday supporting celebrity chef Paula Deen after she publicly apologized on the “Today” show for admitting to the use of racial slurs and jokes in the past.

“We are very pleased with Paula Deen’s interview this morning offering her heartfelt apologies,” Mark D. Sandridge, founder and CEO of Sandridge Food Corp., said in the news release. “She reaffirmed what we already knew to be true — her genuine equality for everyone.”

In an interview Wednesday, Sandridge confirmed that his company and Deen have signed an endorsement deal for a line of prepared foods that the company plans to market starting Sept. 1.

Sandridge said an associate of Deen proposed the idea in June 2012.

Deen came under fire after allegations of racial remarks surfaced earlier this month.

In a deposition involved in a workplace discrimination lawsuit filed in Georgia against Deen and her brother, Earl “Bubba” Hiers, Deen admitted having engaged in anti-Semitic and racist jokes.

Asked if she had ever used the N-word herself, Deen replied, “Yes, of course.”

Deen also acknowledged wanting a “Southern plantation-style” wedding for her brother where black men would serve the guests.

Since the June 19 release of the transcript of the deposition, Deen has lost her television show on Food Network and endorsement contracts with Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

According to the news release, Sandridge will continue to work with Deen.

“Paula is a very caring person who has spent the majority of her life helping the less privileged and giving back,” Sandridge said in the news release. “As an organization, we believe she and her team are on the right track and we look forward to continuing to work together.”

Deen showed emotion on the “Today” show when host Matt Lauer asked her if her apology on national television was aimed at stopping the financial bleeding of her $17 million food empire.

“I’m here because I want people to know who I am,” she replied. “People I have never heard of are all of a sudden experts in who I am. And what hurts most is that their words are being given weight.”

“I believe that … every one of God’s creatures was created equal. I believe that everyone should be treated equal,” she said. “That’s the way I was raised and that’s the way I live my life.”

Contact reporter Andrew Davis at (330) 721-4050 or adavis@medina-gazette.com.