Crock-Pot responds to This Is Us complaints.

We’ve seen lots of brands doing unusual things on social media over the years, from Wendy’s to Adidas to Drip Doctors. But the flip side of this is established brands that seemed just fine without a significant social media presence, then had to suddenly establish one because of people discussing their products for unexpected reasons. And what’s happened this week with Crock-Pot and NBC’s This Is Us drama is maybe the most remarkable example of this.

(Full **spoilers** for the Jan. 23 episode of This Is Us follow.)

Okay, so a long-running question on This Is Us, NBC’s hit series that blends present-day storylines with things that happened decades ago in the lives of the central family has been how the father, Jack Pearson (played by Milo Ventimiglia) dies. He isn’t around in the present, and there’s been a lot of on-show discussion about his death has impacted the kids as they’ve grown, but the manner of his death hasn’t been specified. In fact, there’s been a lot of criticism of the show for how long it’s dragged that out, especially with this second season repeatedly focusing on Jack’s death while still being cagey about it.

Well, Tuesday’s episode, the last episode before the hotly-anticipated post-Super Bowl one that’s supposed to actually reveal Jack’s death, was titled “That’ll Be the Day,” an appropriate Buddy Holly reference for an episode telling the story of Jack’s last day. And it revealed what looks to be the actual manner of Jack’s death, with an old electric crockpot the family was given turning itself on overnight and sparking, igniting a nearby towel and then the kitchen. And it should be noted that “crockpot” is not just a term for a slow-cooker, but also one particular brand, Crock-Pot.

Crock-Pot itself has an interesting history, as it was first made by Naxon Utilities Corp. and dubbed “The Naxon Beanery All-Purpose Cooker.” The Rival Company, which made things like the Juice-O-Mat juicer, Can-O-Mat can opener, and Broil-O-Mat broiler, acquired Naxon in 1970 and renamed the pot “Crock-Pot,” relaunching it in 1971 to great success. The Rival Company is now part of the much larger Newell Brands, which has everything from Coleman to Rubbermaid. But back to This Is Us and the presumably-fatal crock pot; other slow cookers may have existed first, and others certainly sprung up afterwards, and it’s not clear that the pot in the episode is actually a Crock-Pot (no brand appears to be shown), but Crock-Pot was the immediate association for many. And just takes on crockpots and slow cookers in general could be bad for the brand, given their significant share of the market.

So, there was a lot of social media outrage about Crock-Pot on Facebook and Twitter., with many saying they were even going to throw away crock pots over this. So the company decided to respond. And they don’t even appear to have had a Twitter account before this, but started a @CrockPotCares account (its first tweet was Wednesday morning) to reply to people tweeting about This Is Us, including some saying they were throwing their slow cooker away thanks to the show:

And on Facebook, where Crock-Pot has actually had a presence for a while, their page was soon overrun with people questioning their brand thanks to This Is Us. Here’s a screenshot from Mashable:

How Crock-Pot responded on Facebook.

But hey, even This Is Us creator and showrunner Dan Fogelman jumped to the brand’s defense:

What I wouldn’t have given to be a fly on the wall in the meeting where someone had to break news to a major executive of “People are yelling about our product over a fictional fire that killed a fictional character on a TV show,” and where someone else was tasked to “Tell people we liked the character, we’re sad too and our product is safe.”

Whether those kinds of responses actually do much is debatable, but maybe they reinforce the belief that slow cookers are safe? Or maybe they just show that brands are going to interject themselves into conversations about their products, regardless of if those conversations are about reality or television? At any rate, this does appear to be more proof 2018 is a bizarre land. The Crock-Pot corporate siblings at Juice-O-Mat had better be prepared in case they wind up on TV too.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.