MYRTLE BEACH — With calls for a boycott in recent weeks due to the owner’s public Facebook post that likened Black Lives Matter to a “terror organization,” the popular pimento cheese brand, Palmetto Cheese, will no longer be carried at 120 Costco Wholesale locations nationwide.
Owner Brian Henry, who is also the mayor of the Town of Pawleys Island, confirmed that his product was in the process of being taken off the shelves.
“Costco rotates items in and out during the course of the year. They will occasionally add and drop products as a matter of normal business,” Henry told The Post and Courier. “We remain optimistic that Palmetto Cheese will be back on the shelves in the not too distant future.”
A sign in front of the remaining Palmetto Cheese products at the Myrtle Beach Costco location seemingly indicated otherwise:
“The * (asterisk) on this sign means that these 2 items are discontinued and will not be re-ordered by Costco. Over 120 Costco’s throughout the US are no longer carrying this item.”
Costco’s corporate headquarters declined to confirm whether the removal was temporary or permanent. A search of costco.com returned no results for "Palmetto Cheese."
Entangled in multiple calls for him to resign from his seat as mayor in Pawleys Island, Henry has been forced to mix his two worlds, as the community has taken to social media to call for a boycott of the popular pimento cheese brand — one that sold 15.2 million containers in 2019, while being found in 4,100 stores across the U.S.
In a Sept. 3 press conference, Henry read from a prepared statement for a handful of media members, addressing his pointed comments toward Black Lives Matter, but also indicating that the potential boycott would only hurt his employees.
“Please consider the hundreds of South Carolinians' jobs that depend on its success,” he said.
The focus on Palmetto Cheese also brought to the forefront the woman’s face used on the brand’s packaging — Vertrella Brown, an African American who worked for Henry.
He spent part of his Sept. 3 press conference defending himself and his wife, Sassy, after some had claimed they had stolen the pimento cheese recipe from Brown.
“Unfortunately, there have been comments on social media and news outlets falsely suggesting that Vertrella Brown created the recipe for Palmetto Cheese,” Henry said. “However, that is simply not true. The recipe for Palmetto Cheese is, and always has been, Sassy Henry’s recipe. And that is the same recipe on grocery shelves today.”
Henry also committed to creating a foundation in Brown’s name — whom he called a “dear friend” — focused on aiding race relations in the community, something that was called into question during a Sept. 14 protest by the NAACP.
“First, I suggest that before he names a scholarship after the late, great Ms. Brown, that he go talk to the family,” said Marilyn Hemingway, a member of the NAACP.
According to Henry, a re-branding effort is underway, looking to “be more sensitive to cultural diversity.”
This is a developing story, please check back for updates