The Gumbas sauce and salsa brand, which was pulled from the shelves at the family-owned chain of Karns Food stores earlier this month, has likewise been removed by the Giant Foods and Stauffers of Kissel Hill chains.
The Gumbas line is made by Michael Mangano, who’s also family spokesman for the Taste of Sicily eatery in Palmyra. Mangano, who is a vocal opponent of pandemic restrictions on restaurants and other businesses, has been criticized for his personal attacks on state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine.
“We cannot and will not support intolerance toward any person regardless of gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation,” Andrea K. Karns, vice president of sales and marketing, said in an email to LebTown after pulling Mangano’s products in early September.
Now, Giant and SKH have followed suit.
At Giant, according to a statement provided by public relations manager Ashley Flowers, “we are committed to being an inclusive place to work and shop, reflective of the diverse communities we are honored to serve. We are dedicated to providing a culture of inclusion and belonging for all team members, supplier partners, customers and neighbors where everyone is respected, valued, heard and welcomed just the way they are. We firmly believe that diverse people, ideas and experiences make us a better place to work and better able to serve our customers in every community.
“Accordingly, we have decided to part ways with this vendor and are in the process of removing the company’s products from stores.”
Taste of Sicily has been feuding with Levine and Gov. Tom Wolf since mid-May, when the restaurant defied a statewide ban on eat-in service to combat the spread of COVID-19 and refused to require customers to wear masks.
Restaurants were told to shut down in April, but Taste of Sicily reopened its dining room on May 15. Its operating license was suspended June 3, and the restaurant has racked up at least $10,000 in fines for the violations.
Since then, Mangano and his family have been vocal in their attacks on Wolf and Levine and their support for President Trump. In many of his Facebook videos, Mangano mockingly calls Levine “Richard,” which is the transgendered doctor’s former name, and says Levine is “confused.”
In recent weeks, Mangano has doubled down on the insults, although he says it’s not an indication of intolerance towards the LGBTQ community as a whole.
His rhetoric has gotten a lot of traction among his supporters online, with one fan writing that Levine’s “god given name is Richard” and another saying “people just need to grow up and suck it up buttercup.”
Mangano did not respond to a request for comment from LebTown.
On his public Facebook page for the Gumbas line, Mangano criticized the stores “that have decided to drop my Gumbas products because they were so thin skinned and easily offended about the comments that I made to Richard Levine, I don’t care that they removed Gumbas just because I addressed Richard as Richard and not Rachel. It’s my belief, conviction, and it’s the truth.”
He specifically targeted Giant Foods, noting that “I actually never liked them too much anyway” and saying the chain is “not small business friendly.” He also suggested that the founders of SKH “are rolling over in their graves” because of the local chain’s stance.
“Stauffers did the same thing that Karns and Giant did to me, they definitely went back on their principles that were built on standing for what was right,” Mangano wrote.
Mangano said previously he isn’t too worried about the impact on profits, and he said his direct online sales are booming.
“I may not have always said certain things in the best way, but anyone who knows me well enough knows that my heart and mind are in the right place as well as my principles,” he wrote on Sept. 14.
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