Sales skyrocketed after the giveaway, which fell on the two-year anniversary of Trump's remarks calling Mexican immigrants a "disease."
Photo by Getty Images/Mikhail Metzel, slightly modified by author with photo from Penzeys Spices.
On July 6, 2015, Donald Trump announced his bid for the presidency, infamously declaring, among other bombastic things, that a "tremendous infectious disease is pouring across the border" and that the United States had become "a dumping ground for Mexico and, in fact, for many other parts of the world."
Exactly two years later, Wisconsin-based Penzeys Spice commemorated this soundbite by giving away Mexican vanilla extract.
In a strongly worded Facebook post, Penzeys CEO Bill Penzey said that July 6 was a perfect date to "apologize" to the people of Mexico and Latin America for Trump's "intentional racism" during his speech two years ago.
"Vanilla, native to Mexico, may well be the greatest of all gifts from nature, and due to the world-wide shortage going on right now, one of the most expensive gifts as well," he wrote, adding, "Mexican Vanilla Extract also seems to be just the right reminder of how lucky we are to share a border with a country that has added so much goodness to all our lives."
Penzey also dropped the minimum spending amount for free shipping on their website and shared a recipe for Monarch Butterfly Cookies, in order to maximize the good vibes. "'I'm sorry' is an amazingly good starting point. 'I'm sorry,' plus a batch of tasty cookies is probably even better. Thanks for cooking."
The post ended up getting more than 34,000 reactions and 5,000 shares on Facebook; not surprisingly, sales followed suit.
In a follow-up post one week later, Penzey said that the anti-Trump promotion led to a 1,600-percent growth in orders. In fact, the promotion was so successful that Penzeys had to hit the brakes a little bit.
"While our amazing people work to grind, blend and package the Spices needed to replenish inventory levels, we are putting our previously planned promotions on a short delay," Penzey said. So today, instead of us offering you something we think you might like to try, we are giving you the chance to get what you already want, with any $5 purchase."
Within hours, this second post got more than twice as many reactions and shares as last week's, suggesting that Facebook users were in no way deterred by the temporary lack of spice supply.
This isn't the first time that Penzey has gotten attention for trashing Trump. In November, he called out the "open embrace of racism by the Republican Party" during election season in an e-mail to the Penzeys Spice mailing list—and received 35,000 "mostly positive" replies. MUNCHIES reached out to Penzey for further comment on the matter but has not yet received a response.
"The old methods of marketing are coming to an end," he told Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "and this is the new marketing."