Pennsylvania is at the center of the political universe this year, with open-seat races for governor and U.S. Senate. So maybe it was only a matter of time until a political boycott came to the Keystone State.
Federal Donuts, the Philadelphia-based doughnut and fried chicken store, said this week that it was cutting ties with the supplier of its chicken sandwich buns, Chambersburg-based Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe Inc.
One of Martin’s owners has contributed more than $100,000 to Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, and Federal Donuts had faced pressure from customers and others. Federal Donuts’ new vendor is Baltimore-based Schmidt Baking Co., according to Billy Penn.
Mastriano has attracted national attention over his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Pennsylvania and his presence outside the U.S. Capitol on the day of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. Scholars say he embodies the rise of a resurgent Christian nationalist movement whose followers believe America has a divine mission.
James Martin, the company’s executive chair, has donated $110,000 to Mastriano’s campaign, records show. That’s a sizable chunk for the Republican, who during the GOP primary relied on small-dollar donors more than his competitors did.
Mastriano had about $400,000 on hand as of June 6, compared with $13.5 million for his opponent, Democrat Josh Shapiro.
There’s a long history of boycotts in politics.
Most recently, the Capitol attack prompted much of corporate America to halt political contributions to the Republican members of Congress who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s victory — though that pause proved short-lived in many cases. And Major League Baseball moved the All-Star Game from Atlanta last year after Georgia enacted a new voting law that civil rights groups called overly restrictive.
But the targeting of one specific business over its owner’s political views is a bit different — more akin, perhaps, to periodic protests over the years of Chick-fil-A related to the restaurant chain’s foundation’s donations to anti-LGBTQ organizations.
Federal Donuts didn’t explain the decision. “Federal Donuts sandwiches are served on a Schmidt Old Tyme potato roll,” the company said in a statement.
It’s not the only company in the crosshairs. The burger chain Shake Shack has so far resisted calls to ditch Martin’s, saying the political contributions “do not express the values of Shake Shack.”
“We continue to be in active conversations with Martin’s to express our concern,” Shake Shack told PennLive.
Some Philadelphia sandwich-makers have said they have stopped using Martin’s, according to Billy Penn, as have some San Francisco restaurants.
Among those urging boycotts at Federal Donuts and Shake Shack is chef J. Kenji López-Alt, who criticized Martin’s in a June 1 Instagram post that got more than 25,000 likes. It linked to a Billy Penn article.
“As a longtime fan of the products @potatorolls makes, the news that the Martin family is heavily backing an election-denying, far-right PA gubernatorial candidate is disheartening,” López-Alt wrote.
Martin’s said in a May 17 tweet: “Just like our country as a whole, Martin’s company is made up of a diverse group of employees and stockholders, all of whom are free to support and vote for whomever they choose.”