From May 22 to May 31, I traveled across country, from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco, California. Here's a snippet from that week. --Erin Zimmer
Paula Deen's restaurant The Lady and Sons has a first-come, first-served priority seating policy, which makes access to her Southern buffet of fried chicken and fixin's complicated. So if you're out of luck, just mosey on next door to simulate the experience at her merchandise headquarters. Like a Disneyland gift shop, it's full of hyperactive tourists pointing at Paula's poofy hair and grin slapped onto salad dressing labels, stationary and mugs. While inside last week, here were some of my favorite finds.
1. The Cheese Biscuit Postcard
For under a dollar, you can send a loved one Paula's ecstatic face wedged between real cheese biscuits. Yes, real. The cashier told me they were so real, Deen "reeked of cheddar for weeks after the photo shoot." She's posed on the card with her two sons, who are also grinning eerily.
More collectibles after the jump.
2. The T-Shirts
Full of slightly risqué undertones, the phrases on her stack of cotton tees declare things like, "Real Men Shuck with Both Hands," "Momma Loves it When Daddy Eats Oysters," and "Our Hoes Are Complimentary."
3. The Aprons
Same idea. One says, "I'm Still a Hot Babe, It Just Comes in Hot Flashes." (Oh, dear)
4. The Memoir
Near the register, the deep-fried, melted butter silliness dissipates. Deen's memoir, which delves into her agoraphobia and parent's early death, is serious stuff. On the cover, Paula nurses a coffee mug with a non-giggly face, reminding you that "It Ain't All About the Cookin'." For $25, it's pretty tempting to skip the sob fest and go for her plate of crabcakes nextdoor.
5. The Wall of Old Issues Fame
A shrine to her print publication, "Cooking with Paula Deen," this museum-like wall display includes throw-back issues from her early days, as in the inaugural edition from November of 2005. These "collector's issues" cost $7.99 and are placed higher (harder to reach for your smudgy fingers) than the less valuable, more recent issues. Middle-aged women walked by and studied, treating these issues like baseball trading cards.
6. The Bottle Opener
It has all the features of a normal bottle opener, except it says "PAULA DEEN" on it. You need it. Totally. Maybe it will make your beer taste like butter juice.
The Paula Deen Store
102 W Congress Street, Savannah GA 31401 (map)