With a coupon giveaway for a free KFC grilled chicken meal on her website, Oprah Winfrey has unwittingly unleashed a firestorm.
On the one hand, the giveaway was so popular that it appears to have created a run on grilled chicken at some of the fast food chain's outlets, angering free food seekers. KFC has denied reports that any riots occurred, but has acknowledged that it had to turn away disgruntled coupon-holders: "Some customers were upset because they couldn't get their chicken, but there was no riot," said Laurie Schalow, a KFC spokesperson.
Interestingly, Oprah's move is also earning the ire of those who wouldn't likely dine at KFC under any condition, coupon or not. This group of critics, opponents of factory farming, say that Oprah was wrong to endorse a fast food chain that buys its meat from Tyson, the giant chicken processor.
"Oprah needs to get serious ball-busting for giving away KFC!" tweeted Paula Crossfield, managing editor of the website Civil Eats.
She further called Winfrey "hypocritical" for embracing KFC:
Perhaps it was all just too much, too kind and too ahead of the curve, all that work she had done recently to expose what truly goes on for chickens and other animals in the factory farm setting. Because now Oprah has decided to bolster one of America’s worst offenders when it comes to support for factory farming, KFC, by giving away two pieces of chicken to every human in America.
"It may seem harmless: a mass market “they want it, so I’m giving it to them” kind of campaign. But because Oprah has marketed herself as one who cares about animals, even getting a “Person of the Year” award last year from PETA, this KFC campaign is a serious disappointment to say the least."
It ws a call to arms, as like-minded critics quickly started voicing their opposition to Winfrey using the Twitter hashtag #oprahkfc.
Stepping back from the fracas, New York Times food reporter Kim Severson tweeted this observation about the KFC kerfuffle: "How many people crawling up Oprah's pantsuit about the KFC grilled chicken have tasted it? It's contempt without investigation, friends."