Otter Pops, the classic children's snack brand, is being hit with calls for a boycott after walking back a statement of support for the Black Lives Matter movement and reneging on an offer to provide popsicles to protesters in Portland.
On Monday, Twitter user @PDXCarMedic—a disabled Air Force veteran who requested to be referred by his initials, D.C.—tweeted at the company, asking if it supports Black Lives Matter and would be willing to donate ice pops for him to hand out at the protests. D.C. regularly attends Portland's anti-police brutality demonstrations, distributing food, water and medical supplies to protesters.
"With how hot it's been the past week," he tells WW, "I decided to do lots of popsicles, too."
The Otter Pops account initially responded enthusiastically to the request: "We 100% do. Send us a DM and we will see how we can help!"
But the next morning, the account deleted the response and appeared to retract the statement, blaming it on a contracted social media "consultant."
"We regret that an individual consultant hired by Otter Pops recently commented on a social media post that appeared to align the brand with a political movement," read the tweet. "We apologize if anyone was offended by that comment, which was not representative of our brand."
The tweet was met with backlash from Black Lives Matter supporters and spawned the hashtag #boycottotterpops.
"When I get home from this beach trip. I'm gonna kick off my shoes. Turn on the AC. And throw a box of @OtterPops in the trash," read one response.
Another asked, "When does your boot flavor come out?"
D.C. had not responded to the original offer before the message was deleted, and had no further correspondence with representatives from Otter Pops. He believes the retraction was spurred by right-wing agitator Andy Ngo, who tweeted that the company was "offering to donate ice pops to the Portland antifa rioters." (Ngo later claimed that D.C. is part of "an antifa pop-up group" that gave out lacrosse sticks "so rioters could fight officers." D.C. says the sticks were meant for self-defense, so protesters could deflect tear gas canisters and other munitions.)
In a statement to WW, the company says its response "was not a reaction to complaints or tweets from outside parties, it was made because Otter Pops does not align with any political group or organization."
"Otter Pops supports the rights and freedoms granted to Americans," the company writes. "Our core mission is to serve children and families."
The company would not comment on whether the social media consultant was reprimanded or removed from their position.
D.C. says he's been the subject of harassment over the past two days, including death threats—"all because I wanted to give free Otter Pops," he says.
But he's already moving on: He recently reached out to Ben & Jerry's asking for ice cream donations.