Paula Deen is back—and she’s working hard to reclaim her title as the queen of Southern cuisine.
Last fall, Deen premiered her subscription-based, digital platform, the Paula Deen Network and just last month released a mobile game Paula Deen’s Recipe Quest. She's even returned to TV after being dropped from the Food Network in 2013, debuting her own show on Evine Live, a broadcast shopping network, where she's offering her own line of branded food products.
Up against big names like QVC and the Home Shopping Network (HSN), Deen now has a slimmer, (35 lbs to be exact) healthier image, but hasn't given up the Southern comforts.
“Deen’s camp approached us with a new idea and it took us less than five minutes to jump on board,” Mark Bozek, the CEO of Evine, told FoxNews.com. “She has a large loyal fan base that is definitely excited to see back.”
Among Deen’s new food line are two versions of her popular Ooey Gooey Cake—in both butter and chocolate flavors, two types of smoked sausages, holiday hams and savory glazes. She also has a line of chocolate candies which come in a sugar free version, a nod to Deen’s struggle with Type 2 diabetes.
We tried out her original Ooey Gooey Cake mixes in the butter flavor and were happy with how easy it was to replicate an authentic Deen recipe. It was really sweet, but that’s to be expected. But the finished cake came out looking just like the box.
One of the wackiest items in Deen’s new food collection is chocolate shaped like the ingredient Deen is most known for —butter. It comes in three flavors, milk, dark and white chocolate.
Initially, we weren’t sure if these were chocolate flavored butters or a Deen original recipe. But a quick clarification from the Evine team set the record straight. They're not considered a baker’s chocolate, though they can be added to recipes, used as shavings or melted to drizzle on top of treats. But really, they’re just a funny shaped Hershey bar.
So how do they taste?
Sweet. Very sweet. The dark chocolate, though pleasantly smooth, lacked the cocoa punch we’re used to with deeper chocolates. The milk and white were nicely creamy but lack any complexity. Our biggest gripe with the product is how difficult it is to cut or bite. At about an inch around, biting into a cube of chocolate is no easy feat. We had to melt ours to get a little chunk to nibble. So as a snack this might be too much work but works as a novelty item—the package even says “Hey Y’all” with a smiling picture of Deen.
And for Evine, which also sells a line of seafood caught by the fisherman on “Deadliest Catch,” having items that get people talking is a good thing. Deen’s appeal reaches way beyond what she bring to the table.
“Part of what she does is just have fun—there’s no question about it,” Bozek says. “We’re in the business of entertaining customers and having that kind of personality—that puts a smile on your face—just goes with what we do.”