Today, the Route 66 Candy Shoppe in Waynesville, Mo., will give free fudge to any customer who weighs 300 pounds to mark Fat Tuesday.
KSPR-TV in Springfield, Mo., (video is at the link) reported it as a stunt — and reported a bit of a controversy:
The owners say it’s a fun, light hearted way to market themselves but some say it’s offensive and wrong to make fun of what they call an obesity epidemic.
“We are not trying to make a statement or offend anybody. We are just inviting them to come in and have a good laugh,” said candy shop owner Charley Dill.
“It may be a joke to them but to other viewers they can’t help it, some will die because of obesity, no one should ever make fun of it,” said Deb Czuprynski.
The owners — including one, Charley Dill, who acknowledges he looks like hefty comedy actor Dom DeLuise — have stayed out of arguments over their campaign, except to thank media outlets that have reported the story.
And the candy shop says it is considering other stunts, such as free candy to pregnant women on Labor Day.
In a lot of ways, this is much like crazy stunts other Route 66 businesses have pulled over the decades. Do you think the Big Texan Steak Ranch would be as prominent today without its “Free 72-Oz. Steak” offer?
Well played, Route 66 Candy Shoppe. Well played.
UPDATE 3/5/2014: Fat Tuesday is over, but the story still is bouncing all over the Internet. The number of “likes” the shop has on Facebook has quadrupled (to more than 1,800), and several customers said the business was “packed” all day Tuesday. And Dill has been profusely thanking Debra Czuprynski, the woman who thought the stunt was in bad taste.
(Route 66 Candy Shoppe co-owner Charley Dill with a chocolate cheesecake truffle)