In announcing her Type 2 diabetes, Paula had two ways to go: she could say “Honey, I’m your cook not your doctor” or she could admit that copious amounts of butter and sugar and fat had done her wrong.
In fact, she’s done both. Her recipes remain, untouched, and Paula will continue to create and serve them. Yet she is also behind “Not my Mama’s Meals” on the Cooking Channel and her sons’ healthy reinvention of her artery-hardening southern favorites on her website.
The 65-year old sassy, beloved matriarch is keeping the business in the family. Rather than teaming up with an outsider—say, Dr. Oz—and ceding some of her brand and revenue, she has provided her sons with an income stream and brand to manage.
What’s at stake? Plenty. Estimates of her annual earnings hover around $10 million. Her website (before Bourdain started sniping), was drawing over 900,000 unique visitors. A second site, devoted to selling her products, netted over 200,000 in the same period.
My bet is on Paula emerging (mostly) unscathed. She’ll take some—deserved in my opinion—heat for her deal with a drugmaker. But in the end, her brand promise remains the same: tasty Southern traditional favorites, served up with warmth and laughter. She exudes down-home charisma and authenticity and I believe she’ll pull it off.
The take-home from Paula Deen? Not to let the Anthony Bourdains of the world throw us off our game.