Celebrities are foodies, too: they Instagram their meals, write cookbooks, get excited for new restaurants, and try all kinds of crazy diets. But being a food lover in the public eye can be a double-edged sword that, occasionally, lands those stars in hot water. Check out a few of the best examples below and be glad public food scandals aren't a part of your daily life.
1. Oprah Has Beef With Big Beef
Back in 1996, Oprah’s word was law. (Truthfully it probably still is, but late '90s Oprah was really a tour de force when it came to influencing national opinion). If she said a book was great—boom, bestseller. If she thought everyone in her audience deserved a car—boom, keys under the seat. So when she aired a segment about mad cow disease on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show and declared it “just stopped me cold from eating another burger,” it’s no surprise that beef prices dropped to a 10-year low. Naturally, ranchers and members of the beef industry blamed the queen of daytime talk for the tailspin—and they took her to court. Two years and a 5-week trial later, Oprah’s right to free speech was vindicated, and the beef came to an end.
2. Kim Kardashian Sued Over the Cookie Diet
Ah yes, remember the cookie diet? It was that fabulous diet that claimed that by eating five specially pre-packaged “diet” cookies during the day, and a low-cal dinner at night, you could lose up to 10 pounds a month. Creator Dr. Siegal has been selling the cookies since 1975, but the mania around it really peaked circa 2009, when Kim Kardashian took to Twitter to blast the diet, saying it was falsely claiming her endorsement. Dr. Siegal then filed his own countersuit, claiming Kardashian’s bashing of the cookies was strategic because of her commercial work with competing weight loss program QuikTrim. Eventually the cookie crumbled, and Dr. Siegal withdrew the lawsuit.
3. 50 Cent Does Not Want To Taco 'Bout It
It started innocently enough. Taco Bell ran a print ad, that doubled as a public plea to the rapper, asking 50 Cent to change his name to 79 Cent, 89 Cent, or 99 Cent (corresponding to prices on Taco Bell’s value menu) and rap an order at a Taco Bell in exchange for a $10,000 donation to the charity of his choice. The only problem? They never asked 50 Cent about it first. What Taco Bell did do was send a bogus letter to media outlets in an apparent effort to coerce the rapper into participation. Instead, he opted to sue the chain, seeking $4 million in damages and claiming in a federal lawsuit that the business had used his name and likeness without permission. Taco Bell eventually settled the lawsuit, though the terms of the payout remain confidential.
4. Gwyneth Paltrow Fails Her Food Challenge
After being challenged by Mario Batali to complete the #FoodBankNYCChallenge, noted foodie Gwyneth Paltrow agreed to attempt to live on just $29 worth of food for a week—the same amount the average person on food stamps receives. She shared a photo of her shopping basket, which included eggs, black beans, brown rice, some vegetables, and seven limes...to fight off scurvy? (“A lime a day?”) The GOOP founder only lasted four days before she broke, enjoying some chicken, vegetables, and half a bag of licorice. But don’t worry, she still shared a recipe for how to turn those ingredients into a brown rice, kale, and roasted sweet potato sauté with poached eggs. So there’s that.
5. Ariana Grande's Donut-Licking Scandal
Next time you want to make people mad, just go into your local donut shop, lick a bunch of donuts, and talk about how much you hate America. That’s what Ariana Grande did and the world pretty much exploded. Video taken at Wolfee Donuts in California showed the singer with then-boyfriend Ricky Alvarez licking donuts sitting on the counter, before pointing to another tray of donuts and asking “What the f*** is that? I hate Americans. I hate America.” She eventually issued an apology explaining that of course she loves America, she just said she hates it because she wants to help in the fight against obesity.
(Sounds really legit and not at all like the best a very frazzled PR team could manage to come up with.)
6. Scarlett Johansson's SodaStream Debacle
Like Middle Eastern politics, celebrity endorsements can be tricky. (Hang with us; we’ll get there). So when Scarlett Johansson decided to accept a role as the celebrity face of SodaStream, an Israeli soda company with factories located in the West Bank, she found herself in a bit of a sticky situation with humanitarian group Oxfam. Though she had spent eight years as an ambassador with the group, their “fundamental difference of opinion” over whether or not Israeli settlements, and trade, in the West Bank should be legal caused her to step down from her role at Oxfam to stay on as a SodaStream spokesperson. During an interview with the Guuardian she said, “Until someone has a solution to the closing of that factory…leaving all those people destitute, that doesn’t seem like the solution to the problem.”
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