The Los Angeles Times raised some eyebrows on Wednesday over its report warning fans of Trader Joe’s that the chain store can “break your heart” over its decision to maintain its line of products that were deemed offensive by critics.
In the report headlined “If you’re in love with Trader Joe’s, its stances can also break your heart,” Los Angeles Times business reporter Samantha Masunaga addressed the company’s response to an online petition that called for the removal of “racist packaging” from its line of ethnic products like Trader Ming’s and Trader José’s. Trader Joe’s stood by its products, insisting its names aren’t racist and telling critics “we do not make decisions based on petitions.”
However, Masunaga suggested the company’s defense of its products could have an emotional impact on some of its customers.
“If shoppers embrace a brand because it resonates with them emotionally, then a difference of opinion can feel like a betrayal,” Masunaga wrote.
The Times reporter quoted Lupita Huerta, a once-loyal Trader Joe’s customer who stopped shopping at the store over the packaging controversy.
“The packaging is just the bottom of the barrel, the low-hanging fruit,” Huerta said. “This is really a time where companies need to reflect on what their goal is in this movement and how they can push forward racial justice in their day-to-day operations.”
Masunaga noted, however, that after the Times asked its readers to weigh in on the issue, “more than 80 of the 100-plus readers” said the labels don’t change their feelings about Trader Joe’s.
That didn’t stop critics from blasting the California newspaper for running such a story.
“The ‘stances’ of a grocery store can only break your heart if you’re a blithering idiot,” The Federalist political editor John Daniel Davidson reacted.
“Imagine the sort of privilege you have to live with to consider one piece of the culture not bending to your every stupid whim a heartbreaking event,” The Bulwulk culture editor Sonny Bunch wrote.
“Don’t fall in love with supermarkets. Good life lesson,” GOP strategist Liz Mair tweeted.
“Traitor Joe’s, amirite?” journalist Jeryl Bier quipped.