Mil­wau­kee’s spice king per­fects the meld­ing of busi­ness with pol­i­tics.

Milwaukee Magazine - - Content -

Pen­zey’s spicy Trump-era voice

PEN­ZEY’S SPICES has worn its left-lean­ing pol­i­tics on its sweet-smelling sleeve for years, but only re­cently has CEO Bill Pen­zey

Jr. found his voice in the Trump era. Start­ing in early July, the busi­ness leader un­loaded on the pres­i­dent in com­pany e-news­let­ters and on so­cial me­dia, while ex­pertly pair­ing the in­vec­tive with free prod­ucts, to avoid the ap­pear­ance of prof­i­teer­ing on our sup­posed na­tional de­cline. July 6 was the dam-break­ing day, when Pen­zey called the two-year an­niver­sary of Trump’s cam­paign an­nounce­ment speech “a good day to apol­o­gize to the peo­ple of Mex­ico and Latin Amer­ica. That form of in­ten­tional racism de­signed to stoke fear and anger among vot­ers should have raised huge red flags as to why this was not a can­di­date for the high­est of­fice in the land.”

Pen­zey of­fered free Mex­i­can vanilla ex­tract (an $8.29 value) both on­line and in stores. And sales spiked 1,600 per­cent for that day, he says, beat­ing past hol­i­day records to make it the com­pany’s big­gest sales day ever. Shortly there­after, the com­pany posted a recipe for a “Tsar­dust Noth­ing­burger” us­ing its “Tsar­dust Mem­o­ries Rus­sian Style Sea­son­ing” – a warm patty topped with sour cream and beet slices, in­tended to poke fun at Repub­li­cans’ po­si­tion that the spe­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion into col­lu­sion be­tween the Trump cam­paign and the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment is like two slices of bread sur­round­ing a void.

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