By John M. Simpson.
Last fall, we reported on a situation in Baltimore, Maryland, in which a local, family-owned seafood restaurant decided to resist a campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) against steamed crabs. PETA purchased a billboard advertisement in which a Maryland crab proclaimed “I’m ME, not MEAT. See the individual. Go Vegan.” PETA believes that crabs feel pain and that the method of boiling them alive is inhumane. Since crabs are invertebrates, whether they feel pain or just demonstrate a reflex action is debatable. The science is not conclusive on this point.
Seeing PETA’s move as an assault on the entire Maryland crab industry, a local establishment which has sold steamed crabs for decades decided enough was enough, stood up and took the animal rights group on.
Jimmy’s Famous Seafood responded with its own billboard asserting: “SteaMEd crabs. Here to stay. Get Famous.” In addition, Jimmy’s trolled PETA on Twitter with humorous effect with hashtags like “#SteamThemAll.”
As reported recently in the Washington Post, PETA’s attack on Jimmy’s backfired. The attention generated by the kerfuffle simply enhanced the company’s business. Jimmy’s followers on Twitter have evidently swelled to more than 100,000. The company’s online business also has apparently tripled over this time last year. The parking lot outside the establishment had to be expanded to accommodate the extra staff needed to handle the increase in orders. Jimmy’s has reported that the public response to its stiff-arm of PETA was overwhelmingly supportive. As its owner was quoted as remarking:
Every sales email we get, every cold call, people say, “keep kicking PETA’s ass.” … They changed our life.
In the meantime, PETA’s billboard has apparently come down, and the sound of pounding crab mallets continues all across Maryland.