WAHPETON, N.D. – A sunflower seed company says it has shipped nearly 6,000 bags of its salty snacks to USA Network to try to save a science fiction show. And the actor whose seed-spitting character inspired the campaign is loving every minute of it.
Fans of "The 4400" asked Wahpeton-based Giants Snacks LLC to help with the campaign after the cable network dumped the show in December. Many of the sales of Giants Sunflower Seeds are international orders, which the company does not normally accept.
"I'm sure by Monday afternoon, the mailroom at USA Network will be getting somewhat full," said Tom Schuler, who handles Internet sales for Giants.
The campaign, modeled after one by fans who sent peanuts to keep the CBS show "Jericho" alive, has the support of 4400 actor Jeffrey Combs. His character, Dr. Kevin Burkhoff, was the inspiration for the sunflower send-off.
"There's nothing better than an avid fan," Combs said. "The `4400' fans have taken their loss with grace and dignity and, with this campaign, quite a bit of ironic humor.
"Love it. Love them for doing this," he said.
The show tells the story of 4,400 people who were abducted at various times but returned at the same time near Seattle. They have not aged since their abduction and remember nothing about the time they were gone.
Network spokeswoman Kristin Schulman said its New York offices had received about 30 pounds of seeds by Wednesday, before Giants sent its first shipment. The company has since shipped about 650 pounds of seeds, with orders from about 30 states and a dozen countries, Schuler said.
"We love hearing from our viewers and appreciate their enthusiasm for `The 4400,' a series we're extremely proud of, but it would be very difficult logistically to bring the show back," network officials said in a statement.
Renee Cuddahy, 32, a "4400" fan from Philadelphia, was optimistic the sunflower seed campaign would work. The bags sell for $5 apiece or $20 for a case of 24.
"I didn't realize there were so many places in the world where the show was so popular," Cuddahy said. "This is so wacky it just might get their attention."
Combs said he has chewed sunflower seeds all his life, but has yet to try the Giants brand.
"They probably have quite a few of them over at the network right now," he said. "Maybe I can get a sampling from them."