By Kelly Tyko
Brian Henry, the founder of Palmetto Cheese and mayor of Pawleys Island, made a public Facebook post on Aug. 25 saying he was “sickened by the senseless killings in Georgetown.”
Screenshots of his now-deleted post circulated on social media and called on shoppers to #BoycottPalmetto.
“2 innocent people murdered. Not 2 thugs or people wanted on multiple warrants. 2 white people defenselessly gunned down by a black man,” Henry wrote. “So why do we stand by and allow BLM to lawlessly destroy great American cities and threaten their citizens on a daily basis … This BLM and Antifa movement must be treated like the terror organizations they are.”
Two people were shot after a vehicle crash in August. Ty Sheem Ha Sheem Walters III, 23, of Moncks Corner, is charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.
A Costco representative said they had no comment at the time when USA Today reached out last week. Henry didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Henry told the Georgetown Times that Costco rotates the product in and out during the course of the year.
“They will occasionally add and drop products as a matter of normal business,” Henry told the paper. “We remain optimistic that Palmetto Cheese will be back on the shelves in the not too distant future.”
According to The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, Henry apologized at a news conference and called his comments “hurtful and insensitive.” He also asked people calling for a boycott of Palmetto to reconsider.
“There is a concerted effort to boycott Palmetto cheese,” Henry said. “Please consider the hundreds of South Carolina jobs that depend on its success. We humbly ask for your support.”
The Palmetto Cheese website says it is the top-selling pimento cheese in the U.S. and sold at 9,100-plus stores in 44 states and Washington, D.C. The website also talks about how the company is “evolving and listening to its community.”
The brand has begun rebranding to remove the image of Vertrella Brown, a Black cook who popularized the product, from the packaging.
“We understand action is necessary to embrace change within our organization and we are committed to making an impact internally and within the community,” a statement on the website says.
Palmetto Cheese isn’t the first to begin a rebranding effort in recent months amid Black Lives Matter protests after the death of George Floyd. Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s, Cream of Wheat, Mrs. Butterworth’s and Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream — the makers of Eskimo Pie — have said they plan to rebrand away from names that are rooted in a more racially divided era of America’s history.
The century-old Dixie Brewing Co. also is looking for the community to help choose its new name.
Dalvin Brown of USA Today contributed to this report. Follow USA Today reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter @KellyTyko.C