Berenstain Bears Authors Keep Their Distance from Chick-fil-A Controversy

After the Jim Henson Company cut their ties with Chick-fil-A due to the chicken chain's anti-gay attitude, the chain decided to hand out Berenstain Bears books with kids' meals instead.

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Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

A Chick-fil-A logo on a take out bag at one of its restaurants on July 28, 2012 in Bethesda, Maryland.

Politicians, customers, the Muppets, and now the Berenstain Bears are roasting Chick-fil-A because of its president’s stance on gay marriage. After the Jim Henson Company cut its ties with the fast food chain last week—and its Muppet finger puppets were coincidentally removed from Chick-fil-A kids’ meals due to “potential safety concerns”—the toys were replaced with the Berenstain Bears books series, featuring the furry cartoon family that has been teaching kids lessons like “the golden rule” for decades.

The Berenstain family, who owns the copyrights to the series, distanced themselves from the controversy, posting a note on their official site:

Our publisher, HarperCollins, is marketing several of their Berenstain Bears titles through a kids’ meal promotion at Chick-fil-A scheduled for August. This program was in development for over a year. We were unaware of any controversy involving Chick-fil-A until July 25.

The Berenstain family does not at this time have control over whether this program proceeds or not. We hope those concerned about this issue will direct their comments toward HarperCollins and Chick-fil-A.

The authors of the books, Jan and Stanley Berenstain, created the series in 1962. Both have since passed away.

Chick-fil-A’s president, Dan Cathy, confirmed last week that he was against same-sex marriage, saying in a radio interview, “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes marriage.’ I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”

Since, politicians, customers and corporations have all responded. Three mayors — in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco — all publicly voiced that they hoped the chain would stay away from their cities. Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum declared August 1 “Chick-fil-A Day,” encouraging supporters of the “traditional family unit” to stop by the restaurant on Wednesday to show their support. Protestors staged kiss-ins at branches across the country. Sarah Palin even tweeted and posted to Facebook a photo of herself and her husband, Todd, patronizing a Chick-fil-A on Monday.

(MORE: Boston Mayor Blocks Chick-fil-A Franchise from City over Homophobic Attitude)

Amidst the protests and the political soapboxing, the Jim Henson Company took the most direct swing at the fast food chain’s potential sales by cutting their ties with Chick-fil-A last week. In an announcement on Facebook on July 20, the company said they would no longer be involved with the fast food chain’s future marketing missions and (perhaps in rebuttal to the millions of dollars Chick-fil-A has given to anti-gay marriage causes) would donate payments they already received from Chick-fil-A to a charity that supports gay rights.

The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and he have notified Chick-fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO, is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-fil-A to GLAAD.

READ: Politicians Coast-to-Coast Take Sides on Chick-fil-A’s Gay Marriage Controversy