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Simon Dumenco

Yep, Gawker Has Declared War on Whole Foods

Or: Why the Natural Foods Chain Is the New American Apparel

By Published on . 3

A Whole Foods Market in Indianapolis, Indiana
A Whole Foods Market in Indianapolis, Indiana

On Monday, in a post titled "Has Whole Foods Really Become 'a Faux Hippy Wal-Mart'?" I directed everybody over to Gawker to check out its post titled "Read a Disgruntled Whole Foods Employee's Epic Resignation Letter." Originally published Sunday at 10:29 p.m. ET by Gawker's Seth Abramovitch, the letter was in the low hundreds of page views (according to Gawker's on-site counter) when I tweeted a link to it shortly after it went live. It had more than 70,000 views when my post at AdAge.com was published. Yesterday it hit a quarter million. As of this writing (early afternoon ET Thursday), it's at 446,690.

I called it "one of the most wildly entertaining bits of media you're likely to consume this week given that the ranting employee is so completely unhinged and often hilariously hyper-personal about the failings of specific Whole Foods managers." (Seriously, if you haven't read it yet, head over to Gawker right now!) In my post I also wondered if Gawker would turn Whole Foods into one of its endless obsessions, the way it's been pummeling American Apparel since last summer, mainly because Seth Abramovitch ended his post with "And I'll throw this out to Whole Foods employees -- is there a quinoa of truth to what he's saying? Email me."

Bingo! On Tuesday, Gawker published "The Whole Foods Experience: Part One." Abramovitch introduced it with:

We've received over 100 personal anecdotes and counting from Whole Foods employees past and present. The vast majority of them side with our quitter, but there were those who defended the company, some even passionately so.

And today at 1:24 a.m. ET, Gawker published "The Whole Foods Experience, Part Two: The Writer Speaks." Abramovitch quotes the writer of the original epic resignation letter (whom he tracked down by email) on the media storm he's kicked up -- and also serves up more anecdotes from past and present Whole Foods employees grouped under ominous subheads including "You're Sick, You're Fired," "Watch What You Eat" and "Union-Busting." They round out the Part One anecdotes, which came packaged under subheads including "The Toronto Quitter Is a Rich Brat" (he'd worked at a Toronto Whole Foods) and "We Had a Suicide This Year."

Gawker even created a TV-news-magazine-style graphic for the series: an empty, forlorn-looking shopping cart next to the headline "The Whole Truth" rendered in Whole-Foods-logo green. But will any of us truly be satisfied until Gawker posts video of Whole Foods CEO John Mackey walking in menacing slow-motion?

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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