UPDATE: Treeper Tourets writes –
I wrote to Spice House to suggest that some of Mr. Penzy’s customers were unhappy about his behavior. She wrote:
“No kidding. What business owner who really likes his customers would care so little about losing them? On the plus side for us, we have had lots of people jump ship to us, so I kind of hope he keeps writing those wacky newsletters! My parents, Ruth and Bill Penzey, Sr. started our business, The Spice House, in 1957 and we own the original company. We are all about the top quality spices and the freshest hand ground and mixed seasonings. Our politics are very different than Bills, but that is irrelevant as our opinions about anything other than food, have no part in our business. We would never use our company as soap box. So please give us a try and encourage your friends to do the same.
Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/thespicehouse
This week I placed an order with Penzey’s Spices, a company headquartered in Milwaukee, WI. Penzey also has retail stores in various locations, including the town where my daughter lives (which is where I first became aware of the company) and a place not far from where I live, so I have occasionally patronized their business.
They also have a catalog that they mail out periodically. Lately it has come to my attention that the owner of the company, Bill Penzey Jr., includes a “newsletter” in his catalog, which is his soapbox to lecture his customers about diversity and other topics close to the hearts of progressives.
Last year, Charlie Sykes wrote about it for AM Radio, WTMJ – Bill Penzey’s Idea Of Diversity: Lots of White People in Volkswagens:
We know that the owner of Penzey’s Spices is concerned about diversity, because he says he does… repeatedly. Make that obsessively. In recent company catalogues that purport to sell spices, Penzey has lashed out at white racist suburbanites who vote for racist Republicans. He knows that they are racists, because of the lack of “diversity.”
In the last year, Bill Penzey has offered letters denouncing the use of Indian mascots at Mukwonago High School and bizarre letter in May that denigrated the citizens of Waukesha for their ‘different way of thinking” and “race-based politics.”
Segregation is no longer some grim-faced governor standing on the steps of the Capitol shouting, “Segregation now-tomorrow-forever!” Segregation today has grown into a multi-step process. It starts with the new, more polished leaders who, with a smile, send ever-so-subtle messages that America is a whites-first nation. Next, AM radio personalities turn that smile to a sneer and pass it on to their listeners, who turn that sneer into anger. That anger does an amazing job of producing lopsided vote totals in places with little diversity, but it’s poison to everything that is good in our lives and a roadblock across the path of Kindness that leads to cooking.
Well, speaking of little diversity, local blogger Tom McMahon decided to take a deeper look at Penzey-land. He emails:
Bill Penzey mentioned “places with little diversity” in his firm’s Summer of Love 2014 catalog. But I went through all 64 pages of that catalog and could not find a single photo of an African-American in the whole thing. Sure, I found lots and lots of photos of white folks doing white people stuff, but no African-Americans. Why? Is he afraid they might scare off his lily-white clientele?
Wow. Wisconsin politics is really brutal.
Back to me and my recent order with Penzey Spices. Last night I received an email from Bill Penzey regarding his company’s celebration of Earth Day (it’s also available at their website). Most companies do celebrate holidays, Earth Day being just one of them. I also received one from America’s Test Kitchen regarding eco-friendly gadgets, for example. Bill Penzey takes it a step further, as you will see. Some text is bolded by me for emphasis:
Earth Day 2015 is exciting. We really are at the point where there are few obstacles left in our path before we start dealing with climate change in earnest. For the Earth Day issues of science and conservation, there are other websites that can speak better about the obstacles in those fields. As a website that promotes all the good things set in motion through cooking, the obstacle we think we can help with is anger. From the responses to the email we sent out asking for Earth Day help a couple weeks ago, we can say there is a fair amount of anger out there and it’s getting in the way of what needs to be done.
Some of the anger is at those still dismissing the science and instead believing the doubt. Some of the anger is at those working to maintain the profits of the old fossil fuel industry by promoting that doubt. But mostly the anger is at the politicians who know the science is real and still stand in the way of what needs to be done. It’s easy to justify the anger if the question we are asking is “What kind of person is willing to risk destroying the future of our environment to advance their political career?” Still this anger does little more than fuel their supporters. Maybe the kinder question might be, “What events in their lives left them willing to place their own political gains in front of everyone else’s needs?”
So for today and for Earth Day we are highlighting some stories and recipes from cooks who are facing situations that are all too often met with anger. Through their kindness and compassion these cooks are setting in motion a very different future.One of the interesting things we found in the emails we received after our call for Earth Day stories (that also mentioned Indiana’s controversial religious freedom bill), is that for many, these issues are really one and the same. For this group there is that sense that if people who look like them aren’t going to be the majority in the future, there is no point in there even being a future. It’s no coincidence that the media outlets that broadcast the stories of climate doubt are the very same ones that regularly try to make it seem scary that at some point in the future no one skin tone will hold a majority in this country.
We can’t wait for science to convince the deniers/skeptics because their problem is not with the science. Yet while we have no other choice but to move forward without them, there is no kindness in simply leaving them behind. We all must work to show that goodness is not found in just one skin tone, one religion, or even one country.
So for Earth Day we have included a great story from our archives that tells of kindness found on the other side of the world. It’s a good read. And somewhere in our emails we also found a very kind woman whose wedding anniversary falls on Earth Day and who has a really tasty Deep Dark Chocolate Cake recipe and a Bacon Bomb that really is the Bomb.
This Earth Day the kindness of cooking really can set something good in motion. Goodness truly is universal and we must reach out from our shared goodness to solve the issues our Earth and our Climate faces. We can make a difference. And I’m sure Deep Dark Chocolate Cake has a role to play in this somewhere.Heal the World
I don’t know if this guy believes that everyone thinks the way he does, so he’s using his corporate bully pulpit to press his political point of view. I’ll let you decide for yourself.
As for me – I sent a return email:
My reaction is that I will never buy products from Penzey again. I placed my last order this week.Thanks for being open and honest about your position on “Climate Change” (it’s always changing).Sincerely,
Thinking about it further, my main objection is that I know my ideas wouldn’t be welcome at his company. Why would I do business with someone who thinks I am either evil or stupid?