It's not unusual for companies to become embroiled in scandal. Just ask the powers-that-be at Papa John's (via Reader's Digest) or Subway (as reported by The Indianapolis Star). So although Entenmann's peddles only the sweetest of fresh-baked goods, even they haven't been able to avoid the occasional bitter fiasco. Who can forget their ill-advised Casey Anthony tweet, as noted by The Hollywood Reporter?
Entenmann's' problems date back to the late 1970s, almost immediately after the company was bought by pharmaceutical giant Warner-Lambert, according to The New York Times. A rumor started that the company was sending money to — and was possibly even owned by — the Unification Church, helmed by self-proclaimed messiah Reverend Sun Myung Moon. The controversial religious figure was eventually sent to prison for tax fraud, but not before damaging the company's reputation simply by association, per Mental Floss. Nuns allegedly warned children not to let their parents buy Entenmann's products, a delivery driver was shoved, and sales in certain areas languished.
Despite a total lack of connection, the rumor persists to some degree even today, decades later.
Possibly the most confounding part of this PR headache is that no one really knows how the rumor came about. All that is known for sure is that the rumored association between the baked goods company and the Unification Church had a negative effect on sales (via The New York Times). The company initially thought the rumor would fizzle. When it didn't, they retained a public relations firm to quell fears and dispel falsehoods.
In 1979, Entenmann's resorted to drastic measures, disseminating more than 10,000 letters to clergy around the country, noting that any association is, "absolutely, completely, unequivocally false, untrue and unfounded," according to Mental Floss. The Unification Church itself has even publicly denied the rumors and any connections. In 1981, Kaye Cullen, the church's assistant director of legal affairs, told the Times that no one from the church had started the rumor, adding, ”Oh, I wish we did own them, but we don't own or have any interest in them.”
So, if you don't want to eat Entenmann's because it isn't the most nutritious option, you do you. But don't perpetuate unfounded rumors that should have been put to rest a long time ago.