Sweet Salvation: Little Debbie and Big Business
The interface between business and religion has been a hot topic in recent years, often in the context of health care responsibilities and ethical business practices. There are a number of other business concerns unique to Seventh-day Adventists, often centered around Sabbath issues; however, most Adventist businesses function mainly within the “Adventist Bubble” and are not well-known enough to warrant examination from the outside world.
However, one well-known business with a less-known connection to Adventism is Little Debbie, the famed creator of Zebra Cakes, Oatmeal Creme Pies, Nutty Bars and Cosmic Brownies. Little Debbie, and parent company McKee Foods, is owned by Seventh-day Adventists, and the company's headquarters is located in Collegedale, Tennessee, also home to Southern Adventist University. While the bakery often makes the surrounding area smell sweet, the connection between the church and the company has not been without controversy. While McKee Foods makes an effort to uphold their religious beliefs in their business practices, the very nature of a pre-packaged pastry company arguably conflicts with the Seventh-day Adventist health message.
Little Debbie’s factories and other facets of production are all closed during Sabbath hours, one of the main ways that the company observes Seventh-day Adventist beliefs in the business world. This even extends to their sponsorship of NASCAR teams, as the teams that Little Debbie sponsors are contractually obliged to cover or remove Little Debbie logos during Sabbath hours and the crew wears non-Little Debbie attire on Saturdays. Beyond this, the company has expressed a commitment to mitigating their environmental impact by using more solar panels and collecting aluminum cans in their break rooms in an effort to be better stewards of the environment.
In a church that so strongly emphasizes the health message, a sweet snack company may seem snackreligious--but not so hasty. While moderation is key in all aspects of health management, we might be witnessing the rise of a new role model for the world church. This plaid clad pinnacle of wholesomeness is as much a role model as she is a maker of tasty treats. So next time you enjoy a Cosmic Brownie (modern day manna), know that the company has comfortingly Adventist roots and business practices to match.
*An article from the April Fool's Issue. Don't take anything in this issue too seriously.