TEAPOT SCANDAL: The now-infamous Michael Graves Design Bells and Whistles Tea Kettle, which created a social media uproar over the Memorial Day weekend after a Reddit user noticed it on a J.C. Penney billboard along the 405 Interstate in Culver City, Calif., and thought it resembled Adolf Hitler, has disappeared from the Penney’s Web site. On Wednesday, the retailer’s Web site said, “We are sorry, but this product is not available at this time.” The $40 teapots are still available at Penney’s stores. A call to a J.C. Penney store in West Nyack, N.Y., confirmed that the Michael Graves teapot was still in stock. A spokeswoman for J.C. Penney didn’t return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment.
The Reddit user contended the swoop of the teapot’s handle and its black-topped cover resembled the Nazi leader. As these things can, the comment caused an Internet sensation, and the billboard ad went viral, prompting tweets such as “I’m a little Nazi, short and stout, here is my handle, here is my spout” from @hypervocal. The billboard has since been taken down. J.C. Penney took to Twitter to defend itself: “Totally unintentional. If we’d designed the kettle to look like something, we would’ve gone w/a snowman:).”
This story first appeared in the May 30, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
A spokeswoman for Graves, said, “Michael is not commenting on this situation.” What could he possibly say?