Food by VICE

Texans Are Very Upset That This Food Truck Wants to Burn Confederate Flags

Odessa-based food truck PoBoys and Rich Chic's is now struggling to cope with a social media backlash after its Fourth of July offer of free food in exchange for Confederate flags.

by Alex Swerdloff
Jun 29 2015, 7:00pm

Photo via Flickr user bellatrix6

We all heard about the overzealous officer who shuttered two little girls' lemonade stand earlier this month, but a new development in the Texas culinary landscape is ensuring that summer in The Lone Star State is turning into a real glummer, with Seussian levels of melancholy.

What began as a playful summer promotion in Odessa, Texas—meant to capitalize on a groundswell taking hold across the nation—rapidly turned sour with death threats galore.

One Texas food truck is learning the hard way that there are no sure things concerning race relations in this country after the truck, its owner, and his family have all received numerous threats in retaliation for a promotion offering free Po' boy's in exchange for Confederate flags.

Rob Jenkins, owner of the Odessa-based food truck PoBoys and Rich Chic's is now struggling to cope with a veritable shit storm of backlash after his Fourth of July promotion attracted a spate of malicious social media attacks that he perceives as wholly unjustified.

"We realized that we were going to lose some customers over this. We were OK with it," said Jenkins to the New York Daily News last Friday.

Following June 17th's racially instigated massacre in South Carolina's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church, which left nine people dead, calls to take down the Confederate flag on government property and elsewhere have exploded.

In fact, as The New York Times reported, many vehement supporters of the Southern Cross—at least those based on South Carolina—just don't seem to have it in them to protest the calls to take it down this time. "The stunningly quick collapse of support for the Confederate flag" in that state, the Times says, can be traced to changing demographics, Christian compassion, and horror at the tragedy that happened in the heart of the state's historic city.

In short, in South Carolina, defenses appear to be drying up faster than you can say, "I'd like an order of shrimp and grits, y'all." National retailers, toy manufacturers, and the US Parks Service have also joined the ban-the-Confederate-Flag bandwagon.

Texas, however, does not seem to have gotten the memo. And ground zero is Rob Jenkins' food truck.

Jenkins told a local Odessa newspaper that he grew up in Louisiana and saw a lot of racism: "I saw it all the time … a lot of racism from white people and from black people towards white people." And so Jenkins devised a plan: he would start taking donations on July 4th and would burn all items bearing the Confederate flag insignia. In exchange, he would give out free food.

"Everything we get, we are going to destroy," he said at the time.

But not so fast, sugar. Texans reacted badly—really badly—to Jenkins' idea once they got wind of it.

"We've gotten 'burn the business down.' We've gotten that a few times," he told the New York Daily News. Death threats followed.

And so the backtracking begins: "WE ARE NOT BURNING ANYTHING," is now posted on the Facebook page of PoBoys and Rich Chics. "We are donating it all to a museum in Dallas."

Jenkins went on to say that his trade-in-your-flags idea "wasn't meant to disrespect anyone and maybe our way about going about it was a little insensitive to people." Seriously? Who's being insensitive to whom, exactly? Next, the gummermint will be telling me I can't feed my chickens scrambled eggs!

Anyway, this military veteran—who says he has a wife and numerous friends who are minorities—has been swatted down. There will be no burning of the Confederate memorabilia that Jenkins gathers.

But his free food offer stands.

In his own words: "It's so deeply rooted and it's time we all come together and realize we were fighting for the wrong things."