Here is Megan Boehnke’s full (and maybe final?) update on the Joe Armstrong mint matter:
In Knoxville, hundreds of calls and email have flooded into the University of Tennessee bookstore.
In Brooklyn, N.Y., the company behind the satirical mints has sold out until the end of the month.
And on eBay, the tiny tin cans of mints are going for $30 and higher.
On Tuesday, the UT bookstore pulled mints poking fun at President Barack Obama off shelves after state Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, told the director he was offended by the message on the candies. After a story ran in the News Sentinel on Wednesday, reports of the incident landed in national publications, on blogs, and on radio and television shows.
For the Unemployed Philosophers Guild, the small company in New York that produces the candies, the incident has led to record sales.
“It’s the best thing that could have happened,” said Jay Stern, an official at the company. “He made them a hit.”
Though it’s sold out of the Obama “Disappointmints,” the company has done a mock-up of a tin can in honor of Armstrong.
“Joe Armstrong Strong Arm Censored Mints,” the tin reads. The company posted it to its Facebook page.
In the meantime, a handful of employees at the company have been working tirelessly to fill back orders, Stern said.
“It’s been stressful,” said Stern. “It’s kind of like that episode of ‘I Love Lucy’ were she’s got the conveyor belt and it’s going too fast. Every five minutes we do a Web import and we have 30 new orders.”
As of Wednesday at 9 a.m., the company had enough mints to last through Christmas, Stern said. Now, they are back-ordered two to three weeks. The company has also upped the price from $3 to $5 to pay to have 8,000 new tins air-shipped to Seattle. From there, they’ll head to a Johnson City fulfillment center, Stern said.
The drought in the marketplace has driven up prices on eBay.com, where the tin cans are going for more than $30.
Unemployed Philosophers Guild is a typically left-leaning company, said Stern, but decided to manufacture the “Disappointmints” to cater to liberals who were frustrated with the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts.
In the past, it has mostly made tins mocking former President George W. Bush, entitled “National Embarrassmints” and “Impeachmints.”
Those tins were carried at the UT bookstore during the Bush presidency without complaint, said David Kent, the director of the bookstore who made the decision to pull the mints on Tuesday.
Now, the bookstore has decided to pull all politically-minded mints and cancel any outstanding orders.
“We’ve gotten hundreds and hundreds of calls and emails. My assistant and receptionist have been busy all day yesterday and all day today,” said Kent. “Overall, I think, people are just expressing their views, which is great, one way or the other.”
Kent said he’s fielded calls from California, Texas, New York, Washington, Florida “and every state in between.”
The ruckus has been distracting for the store, which is embarking on its busiest time of the year as it stocks shelves with textbooks for the fall semester and prepares for the tax-free weekend.
“The unfortunate part of all that is we’re very much in the (middle) of processing books and getting them on the shelves and ready to go,” he said.