Because You Can’t Have Too Much Butter, Paula Deen’s “Comeback”

Paula Deen had been digging her own grave for quite a while. It started with unprecedented usage of butter, deepened to an ironic case of diabetes (and an even more ironic endorsement deal with a diabetes drug company), and she finally dug herself to China when a legal dispute with a former employee led to revelations that she had used racial slurs in the past, after which her millions of dollars in endorsements and book deals and contracts crumbled like a shortbread cookie.

But just when we thought she had finally lay herself down in the bed she’d made (although not without tearful apologies) she decided to come back from the grave in a self-proclaimed “comeback.”

Now nearly a year after the hullabaloo, Deen made a reappearance at the South Beach Food and Wine Festival where she drank some tequila, apologized some more, made chicken and dumplings, and then rode off stage on the Food Network Star, Robert Irvine’s (host of Dinner Impossible) back. Either Paula Deen is really aware of her internet presence or she was just too tired by the unrelenting press to walk off stage on her own.

On the time between her downfall and her now apparent comeback, Deen was quoted on CNN saying “If it wasn’t for my fans’ love, I’d be home breathing into a paper bag,” Deen says. “When I woke up each morning, it was like my world was crashing down again. … I’m fighting to get my name back.” She is actually physically and emotionally struggling to get out of the metaphorical bed she’s made for herself and it seems there a few who are willing to help her out.

But even if she hasn’t got much moral support, she certainly has the monetary support. Deen has founded a new company, Paula Deen Ventures, with a reported $75 million to $100 million in funding from a private equity company called Najafi Cos. who “seeks to make strategic investments in undervalued assets.” So instead of Paula Deen the celebrity chef, we may be dealing with Paula Deen the relentless business shark.

When everyone loved Deen she licensed her name to whichever company wanted it on things: muffin toasters, spatulas, and Serta mattresses. Then the love stopped, and so did the money. Now, Deen is consolidating the business in the hopes that if she pays people enough money to figure it out she can sell profitable amounts of finishing butter (now available at your local Walmart). Even though she has millions to her name again, it is unlikely she will be starring on Food Network any time soon.

And yet despite all the hate, subscriptions to her magazine have increased by 40% in the last year and she still has loyal fans, both the Wall Street Journal and CBS have reported. Perhaps the idea of a comeback and a “back in the saddle” Deen is not so absurd after all. Who’s going to justify the mass consumption of butter if not Ms. Booter and Owl?

Deen’s life was hard until fame made it easier. She was a divorced 18 year old mother of two with $200 to her name, who suffered agoraphobic anxiety attacks that confined her to the house. Now, she’s gone from a Food Network Star with book deals and millions of dollars in endorsements to being the hated diabetic racist old lady who wears too much eyeliner.

It takes some spirit, or a few shots of tequila, to even attempt a chance of crawling out of a grave so deep. Then again, she claimed to identify with that “black gay football player [Michael Sam]” in an interview with People so this comeback may not go as smoothly as she’d hoped. As @JayBaklava eloquently tweeted: “Paula Deen crashing and burning before she rises from the ashes like a Phoenix.”

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3 Comments

  • Jean Suitor
    March 6, 2014

    Almost everyone can forgive stupidity of word choices. But for Christ sake,stop with the dirty sexual jokes and “riding”. Worse than a woman acting like a tramp in public? OLD woman acting like a tramp in public. Lost me years ago with that DIRTY MOUTH, so I have LOVED watching the fall. As we say in the south “White Trash!”

  • Jane Kashmiri
    March 7, 2014

    Being A Racist Or Using The Word Nigger Is Often Not Only A Hate Crime, But Also An Attempt Not To Be Bullied By A Member Of A Minority Racial Group. She Felt Bullied By Her Former African American Woman Employee. It Is A Sign That She Has A Childlike, Dependent Personality That She Struck Back With A Vulgar Racist Epithet When A Former Employee Was Trying To Splash Mud On Her TV Reputation.

  • hunter whittingham
    March 7, 2014

    I have watched and loved paula for as long she was on the food network I own a small bbq catering company and use 14 different paula deen recipes in my business I am glad she is on the rise again let the past be the past life is too short to dwell on the negative

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