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Papa John's pizza controversy: Another fast-food chain embroiled in culture war

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Ross Dettman/AP/File

(Read caption) Papa John's founder, chairman, and CEO John Schnatter signs a crew hat for Deondre Jones in Burbank, Ill., last year to celebrate the opening of the chain's 3,000th restaurant in North America. His comments early this month about Obamacare are raising hackles.

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What is it about fast food and politics? Maybe it’s the super-charged presidential election or shoot-from-the-hip company executives. For whatever reason, fast-food companies are developing a knack for parachuting into the middle of political minefields.

First it was Chick-fil-A, whose president disparaged gay marriage in print and on the air, igniting a new battle in the culture war over chicken sandwiches.

Now, Papa John’s chief executive John Schnatter has criticized President Obama’s health-care law and said it will raise costs by 15 to 20 cents a pizza.

The blow-back has been fierce:

Papa John’s pizza extortion,” ran the headline for a story Wednesday from Salon, a news website.

 

Vote for Romney or we'll raise our prices” was how Daily Kos, a liberal news site, topped its story , which went on to illustrate Mr. Schnatter’s links to the GOP presidential candidate..

Some Twitter users are urging a boycott of the Kentucky-based pizza chain.

But such reactions may be overdone. Was Mr. Schnatter making a political threat – or simply explaining the economics of the pizza business? You be the judge.

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