|Cracker Barrel Flipflops on Nixing 'Duck Dynasty' Items|
|By LIZ FIELDS (@lianzifields)||Dec 22, 2013, 10:38 AM|
Less than 48 hours after Cracker Barrel announced plans to pull Duck Dynasty items off its shelves in the wake of cast member Phil Robertson's anti-gay comments, the Southern country store and restaurant chain has reversed its decision.
Cracker Barrel's reversal of its former position was posted this morning to Facebook, following a flurry of negative responses from customers and fans who showed support to the patriarch of the "Duck Dynasty" family.
"When we made the decision to remove and evaluate certain Duck Dynasty items, we offended many of our loyal customers. Our intent was to avoid offending, but that's just what we've done," the company wrote. "You flat out told us we were wrong. We listened."
"People weren't shy. They wrote, called and took to social media," company spokesman Jeff Eller told ABC News about the company's decision to go back on its original pledge to ax "selected products" from its stores.
The restaurant was the first major retailer to announce its stance on the Robertson scandal since his remarks went public.
A statement posted on the company's Facebook page on Friday read:
"Cracker Barrel's mission is pleasing people. We operate within the ideals of fairness, mutual respect and equal treatment of all people. These ideals are the core of our corporate culture."
The Facebook post indicated the company would continue to sell some Duck Commander products in stores, but would continue to "evaluate the products we offer."
The announcement today confirmed the company will be reinstating all Duck Dynasty products back into its stores.
Robertson, 67, star of the hit A&E reality series "Duck Dynasty," has been put on hiatus by the network after he made inflammatory remarks about homosexuality in an interview with GQ magazine.
In the GQ interview, Robertson said that, in his eyes, homosexual behavior -– along with bestiality -– is sinful.
"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there," he said. "Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."
Still, "We never, ever judge someone on who's going to heaven, hell. That's the Almighty's job," he added. "We just love 'em, give 'em the good news about Jesus, whether they're homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort 'em out later, you see what I'm saying?"
Robertson's comments received mixed reactions from the show's millions of fans, with politicians and gay rights groups also weighing in on the issue.
Hours after the GQ interview went public and Robertson was suspended, a Facebook page popped up encouraging fans to boycott the show until Robertson returned. The page now has over 1.7 million likes.
Robertson's suspension has also prompted an outcry from conservative Republican politicians, including Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal.
"Free speech is an endangered species. Those 'intolerants' hatin' and taking on the 'Duck Dynasty' patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us," Palin wrote on Facebook Wednesday night in a post featuring a photo of her with the cast of "Duck Dynasty."
Cruz also took to Facebook, writing, "The reason that so many Americans love 'Duck Dynasty' is because it represents the America usually ignored or mocked by liberal elites: a family that loves and cares for each other, believes in God, and speaks openly about their faith."
Meanwhile, there has been a large wave of support of his suspension.
Gay rights advocate group GLAAD released a statement calling Robertson's sentiments "some of the vilest and most extreme statements uttered against LGBT people in a mainstream publication."
"Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil's lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe," GLAAD spokesman Wilson Cruz said. "He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans -– and Americans –- who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. Phil's decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors, who now need to re-examine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families."
"Duck Dynasty" is the highest-rated non-scripted series on television. The show recently aired a Christmas special that drew more than 9 million viewers. It is set to return for the rest of its fourth season run in January.
The Robertson family released a statement Friday night in support of their patriarch and threatening to walk away from the reality TV show.
"We cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm," the family said, adding they "are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future."
ABC News' Kevin Dolak, Lesley Messer, Michael Rothman and the AP contributed to this report.