Stanley and Janice Berenstain, the couple behind the classic children's book series "The Berenstain Bears," issued a statement Monday distancing their company from controversial restaurant chain Chick-fil-A while explaining they are obligated to continue their current partnership for the time being.
The Berenstain Bears thus become the latest in a growing line of brands and public figures publicly disavowing Chick-fil-A following the company's president Dan Cathy's anti-gay marriage remarks over two weeks ago — a list that includes everyone from Boston city Mayor Thomas Menino to puppet designer and Muppets creator Jim Henson's heirs.
The Berenstains stated on their website: "Our publisher, Harper Collins, is marketing several of the Berenstain Bears titles through a kids' meal promotion at Chick-fil-A scheduled for August," making a point of saying the new books may not even be entirely their work. "This program was in development for over a year. We were unaware of any controversy involving Chick-fil-A until July 25."
The family makes it clear that the current contract is beyond their reach and entirely within the hands of their publishers, adding, "The Berenstain family does not at this time have control over whether this program proceeds or not," finally recommending that "those concerned about this issue will direct their comments toward Harper Collins and Chick-fil-A."
The Berenstain statement comes shortly after the Jim Henson Co. abruptly ended a similar plan with the restaurant, citing Cathy's anti-gay statement as the reason behind severing the kid's meal partnership. "The Jim Henson Co. has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over 50 years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors," a representative wrote on the company's Facebook page. "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," the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
Chick-fil-A responded by withdrawing the Jim Henson-produced "Creature Shop Puppet" kids' meal toys, claiming that they were recalled due to safety issues. Speaking to Business Insider, a spokeswoman for the restaurant chain maintained that the company's recall decision was completely separate from Henson's announcement.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's "National Chick-fil-A" appreciation day, meanwhile, is still set to take place on Wednesay. The counter-movement has gained its own set of powerful public allies, including former Pennsylvania senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum.