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There's something morbidly fascinating about a brand meltdown, especially one that's entirely self-inflicted. We watch, chowing down on a big ol' plate of schadenfreude, as Paula Deen's food empire falls like a soufflé in a seismically active zone. It's not outside influences causing this slow-motion train wreck, though. Accusations of racist speech and revelations of creepy slavery re-enactments for a perfect Southern wedding aside, this meltdown began years ago, and involves much more sinister dealings.

In January 2012, announced that she had Type 2 diabetes. She had kept this diagnosis under wraps for several years, all the while pushing her sugar-rich, buttery, carb-a-licious recipes on television, in books, and in booming sales for her profitable culinary empire.

It gets better: during this time, Ms. Deen was cutting a deal with pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk to promote their diabetes drug, Victoza®. As usual, you have only to follow the money to figure this out. Paula Deen herself acknowledged::

“Talking about money is garish. It’s tacky,” she said. “But, of course, I’m being compensated for my time. That’s the way our world works.”
So true, Paula... so true. You don't want to do anything tacky that could jeopardize that ol' revenue stream. When your culinary lifestyle hands you lemons, you just pour another scoop of sugar into the lemonade. Like all the best long cons, there's money to be made on either side of the deal.
Deen, a paid spokeswoman for Novo Nordisk, says she was diagnosed three years ago, but kept quiet about her condition until she had advice to offer the public.
Having lived in the South for a while now, I've seen that things sometimes move very slowly by "up north" standards, but three years? Seriously? All this so that the ever-altruistic Ms. Deen could think and think and think until she had "advice to offer the public?!"

All that time, the money was rolling in, Ms. Deen's food was being served, millions responded with Pavlovian eagerness to her down-home invitations to pull up a [reinforced] chair and settle in for a high-calorie, butter-and-sugar infused comfort-food feast.

Paula Deen's long-delayed announcement of her diabetes diagnosis was timed to coincide with the press releases for her deal with Novo Nordisk for their diabetes injectable drug, Victoza. Better yet, her "teaming arrangement" with Novo Nordisk featured a "program" "Diabetes in a New Light". The web site enables you to get new recipes and input from Ms. Deen while you peruse the risks of Victoza® which include this cheery gem:

In animal studies, Victoza® caused thyroid tumors—including thyroid cancer—in some rats and mice. It is not known whether Victoza® causes thyroid tumors or a type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) in people, which may be fatal if not detected and treated early. Do not use Victoza® if you or any of your family members have a history of MTC or if you have Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2). While taking Victoza®, tell your doctor if you get a lump or swelling in your neck, hoarseness, trouble swallowing, or shortness of breath. These may be symptoms of thyroid cancer.
If you develop any of these symptoms, no worries. Paula Deen is probably already cutting a deal with a pharmaceutical firm that's in Stage II trials for a thyroid cancer drug.

How many of Paula Deen's adoring fans developed Type II diabetes from her unhealthy cuisine during the three years that she covered up the truth? We'll never know. If she's to be believed, she's changed her ways, and she and her sons are now offering much healthier recipes. Anything to keep the customers.

It's almost like your drug dealer telling you that all that crack and meth he sold you over the years might have been bad for you, but these cool new herbal supplements can reverse the damage. Trust me, he tells you, I'm taking them myself, and they really work! Stick with me, baby. I've got your back.

The emerging revelations of Paula Deen's racism don't really surprise me. Paula's all about the money. Like many successful commercial enterprises, PaulaWorld was all smoke and mirrors, image and the money. Eat like me, cook like me, and be happy. Get diabetes like me, and follow me to pharmaceutical salvation. It's all good, even the weepy apologies. I'm only human... just like y'all.

In a nation of obese pre-diabetic and diabetic foodies, Paula Deen was someone "relatable". Anyone who's ever tried and failed on a diet and exercise regimen can relate to someone who offers them a warm welcome and a slice of pie fresh from the oven with a big dollop of whipped cream. Food is our drug of choice in America. Food makes everything better. Well, everything except diabetes and a host of medical problems stemming from obesity.

One thing food can't fix is evil. When we pull back the curtain and see the ugliness, greed, corruption, and hypocrisy, we shouldn't be surprised. What Paula Deen's still-besotted fans need to grasp is that she was never really that into them. She was willing to risk their lives for her enrichment. In light of that, the racism is just icing on a big ol' buttery, sugary, chocolatey cake.

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