Karen is My Name

Email from the CEO of Penzey’s: “Choose Love for all the Karens, too. Be Kind!”

[This is part of an email sent out by Bill Penzey of Penzey’s Spices to all subscribers to the company mailing list on July 14, 2020. This website is non-partisan, and no offense is intended to any Republican readers, who will no doubt disagree with Mr Penzey’s characterization of Republican values; we’re sharing this solely because of the message of empathy for what the “Karen meme” is doing to women named Karen. Incidentally, the woman whose letter he quotes is not in contact with us; if you see this, we hope you’ll get in touch.]

Choose Love for all the Karens, too. Be Kind!

And tales of Dragons and Karens. One of the saddest parts to this time we are living through is that there is no way out of it without, on some level, fighting. There was a time when the question of: “Have you no decency” actually meant something to an out of control Republican because somewhere deep down they had some. In these days where unlimited political spending has seized control of the Republican Party, any decency has sadly departed. For any politician to allow trillions of dollars in damage to our environment, simply because it makes their donors billions, decency has long since left the building.

So fight we must. But we must also guard against all that fight sets in motion. There is the idea that in fighting dragons we put ourselves at risk of becoming what it is we set out to fight, and that if we fight long enough that outcome becomes inescapable. I get this, but I also believe that this is where we as Cooks have the strength to last a good bit longer before we become lost. It’s good to try and always remember that it’s not the voters of the Republican Party that we are fighting, it’s the inhumanity that has overtaken them.

To survive overturning this inhumanity that has overwhelmed seemingly 40% of American voters, now more than ever we need the daily connection to our own humanity that cooking brings. As humans nothing has shaped us more than the last million years spent together gathered around the fire cooking and sharing food with those we hold close. When we cook today, even if just for ourselves, every little step, every added ingredient reconnects us to this million-year tradition of kindness. And then there are the flavors, and the way those flavors tell the stories of our lives. Cooking is good stuff. Kindness matters.

Which brings us to this Karen meme. If you are unaware, there is this thing now where it’s become trendy to label people, mostly white women, who inflict Republican values on those around them with the name “Karen.” Can we as Cooks maybe work to help stop this? It’s not productive, but it is most certainly mean. Here is an email excerpt from a customer named Karen I received this weekend. She says it well:

“My name is Karen. Covid-19 has forced me to stay in California while my father is in New Jersey, dying of cancer. Like many people in similarly heart-breaking positions, I am barely holding it together. Last night I checked my email to find a local restaurant was boasting that they’d created a ‘Karen’ cocktail that would make you want to speak to the manager. I lost it. I wound up crying myself to sleep.”

Karen went on to share the stories of others named Karen also going through struggles while having to be regularly confronted by the cruelty of strangers. Karen asked me if I could try to help. So here I am. Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia all at their core have people facing cruelty for issues beyond their choosing. This Karen meme lives in the very same place. Nothing good will come of this.

Yes, people who intentionally voted a “textbook” racist in the White House despite him being bankrupt in most every sense of the word need to be called out for what they did. What makes this Black Lives Matters moment so transformative is that for the first time the cost of racism is no longer only being paid by those on the receiving end, but finally those creating the racism are finding themselves being canceled out for their actions. This is a very good thing. But as much as we have to call out Republican voters for their cruelty we also have to guard against that cruelty taking hold of us as well. This Karen meme is us losing that struggle. Please stop it.

Honestly with just who Cooks are I don’t see a lot of you calling people not named Karen, Karens. But the reality is that not all our allies in this struggle share the gifts that the kindness of cooking brings to our lives. As someone who does cook you have far more influence over those you interact with than you most likely imagine. A gentle yet firm reminder from you can help get the ball rolling here. The truth is 11.3.20 isn’t the finish line for the struggle we are in, but more like the starting gate. If we are already growing scales and breathing fire we will ourselves be dragons long before this fight is won. This all matters too much. Be Kind. Choose Love.

And we did extend this offer another day to end Wednesday instead of today which helped us keep pace with the orders coming in, but orders placed today at penzeys.com for delivery most likely still won’t start shipping for another ten days. If you have the option to place an order for touchless pickup in one of our stores, they are pretty much caught up. But if mail order works better for you, orders ship in the order received so there’s lots to be said for placing one today and beating the rush that tomorrow’s midnight deadline is sure to bring.

Either way be sure to enter Love in the apply code box at checkout. Choosing Love is what this time needs.

Be kind to Karens! Thanks,


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