Hurricane Irma was ranked as one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in recorded history. It left Florida, the third most populous state in the US, in tatters, submerging towns and cities and rendering entire regions barren.
State residents who didn’t evacuate saw themselves left without any power, and were left to stock up on survival essentials provided by the sporadic amount of stores still open. You would think it would just be the basics: canned food, bottles of water etc, but stores like Publix went above and beyond in the face of this deadly natural disaster.
Publix, a regional grocery store in the state of Florida, have courted controversy this week after they stocked up on Hurricane Irma themed cakes in their bakery. Primally selling Irma themed cakes, the grocers had ‘Weather It Out’ and ‘Go Away Irma’ etched into the icing of their baked goods.
Photos of the cakes quickly circulated around twitter and they really split opinion.
We’re all asking the same questions; who the hell is buying these in the middle of a potentially disastrous emergency? Surely you should be using this time to evacuate or be doing more critical things with your time?
Tom Sandberg, the photographer of the above cake, was with his wife at the time when they were evacuating West Palm Beach and explains his reasoning.
“[There’s] Lots of great conversation with other store customers about the cakes. It helped to keep the mood light as these storms always bring a lil anxiety to all.”
Sandberg said the store is his wife’s second home, and they rarely turn down a Publix cake because they’re “very good” cakes.
” It had a mix of chocolate and vanilla and like virtually all the cakes we buy was delicious”
You can hopefully assume the stores’ only intention was to lighten the mood in the face of impending doom, even if it only helps a little.
The Five Daughters Bakery in Santa Rosa FL posted Irma-inspired doughnuts to their Instagram. The bakery was quickly criticized for posting seemingly insensitive content but they did not apologize.
Their first Irma-themed post read: “Sending our thoughts and prayers to all those affected by Hurricane Irma. Safe travels to everyone seeking refuge. We’d love to see you in the panhandle at @seaside_newtownoldways or in Nashville, TN! 🍩🍩🍩🍩🍩 #stayawayirma #fivedaughtersbakery 📷: @mollywatkinsfrazier”
Whilst there was some crafty and inspired use of the boomerang tool, not everyone enjoyed the post. Negative comments and backlash quickly followed and the post was considered in bad taste.
The bakery however took it in their stride and posted another Irma doughnut in response with the caption: “If you found our post stating we are sending thought and prayers ‘tasteless’ (pun intended) and offensive, we invite you to UNfollow us and put your energies towards helping the world.”
A seemingly dignified response, undermined very quickly with the hashtags “#hatersgonnahate and #bakersgonnabake”.
Cinotti’s Bakery in Jacksonville also made Irma doughnuts, opting for a more literal, surprisingly easy on the eye interpretation. They dipped their doughnuts in white frosting and airbrushed them to resemble what the hurricane looks like on radar.
Cinotti’s owner, Michelle Cinotti Vining, explained in an email: “I believe it was a couple of our employees that wanted to come up with something fun related to the hurricane.”
“A few places did an Irma-related cake so they sorta played off that. Being a family business we just kind of roll with what sounds good.”
Before the hurricane properly hit Jacksonville, word spread about the bakery’s themed doughnuts. Cinotti Vining and her employees arrived at the bakery last Saturday, assuming it would be a slow day but were met with lines out the door throughout the day. Customers apparently couldn’t get enough of the hurricane themed goods.
Cinotti Vining and her employees arrived at the bakery last Saturday, assuming it would be a slow day but were met with lines out the door throughout the day. Customers apparently couldn’t get enough of the hurricane themed doughnuts.
“We kept frying doughnuts for a solid seven hours just to try and keep up with the demand. It was crazy!”
They had prepped about a dozen doughnuts in advance of the rush but were only able to make another 24 or so over the course of the day. They didn’t try to over stock because on the storm heading their way, but they said if they could have made 100 of them they would have sold them all.
No one seemed to be offended by the doughnuts in real life, and a lot of the rage came from the internet. If anything, the general consensus seemed to be that customers were only annoyed that there weren’t more to go around.
Cinotti’s bakery offered their opinion on the controversy, saying: “We don’t do things for attention or plugs. We just try to do the right things, be there when the community needs us and do what we do with quality and integrity.”
Cinotti’s Bakey has donated money toward feeding the Jacksonville first responders and Publix have donated $1 million to the American Red Cross and United Way to aid relief efforts. Hurricane Irma has been thankfully downgraded to a tropical storm as it pushes inland. In the wake of the storm, we hope other outlets who have followed the trend to use the money made from the themed goods to help the relief effort.