Cream cheese commentary

Jenny Drumgoole’s cream cheese art submission morphs into a representation of corporate America. Google “cream cheese recipes,” and one will be bombarded with recipes for cheesecake worthy to take to tea with grandma. Yet, Philadelphia-based

Jenny Drumgoole’s cream cheese art submission morphs into a representation of corporate America.

Google “cream cheese recipes,” and one will be bombarded with recipes for cheesecake worthy to take to tea with grandma. Yet, Philadelphia-based artist Jenny Drumgoole’s cream cheese creations befit the “Twilight Zone” better than granny’s kitchen.

Drumgoole, a nationally-known artist with a master’s in fine arts from Yale University, spoke at Moore College of Art & Design on Feb. 24 about the bizarre cream cheese performance art she created for the “Real Women of Philadelphia” contest, which was co-sponsored by Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese and celebrity chef Paula Deen.

NICKEE PLAKSEN TTN On Feb. 24, artist Jenny Drumgoole holds a discussion at Moore College of Art & Design about her cream cheese art. After experiencing the “Real Women of Philadelphia” contest, she aims to show the conspiracies of corporate America through her art.

Drumgoole took the opportunity to use the most innocuous condiment to unveil the deceptive conspiracy of cold-hearted corporate America.

The “Real Women of Philadelphia” contest required participants to post online video entries of their Philadelphia cream cheese recipes. The prize for the best recipes was the culinary Holy Grail – a chance to go to Savannah, Ga., to meet Deen. Drumgoole initially entered the contest to gratify her mother’s intense obsession with Deen and get her cookbooks signed.

Drumgoole’s nine video contest entries – on display at Moore until March 15 – portray her as a veritable Julia Childs on drugs. The videos she posted on YouTube show her surrealist concoctions of cream cheese heads shaped like John Rambo and cupcakes comprised of pickles and OLD BAY spice.

In her videos, she recalls scenes from “Rambo” movies by writhing around on the floor or being slapped in her lipstick-smeared face. She used the common theme of “Rambo” to symbolize her ultimate mission.

“I’ve always been interested in Rambo because he embodies over-the-top masculinity,” Drumgoole said.  “In this all-women contest, it would be interesting to see how they would respond to that. Also, all of Rambo’s missions were about recon, and my recon mission was to the get those cookbooks signed.”

The wide-eyed chef parodied celebrities by having comedic interludes with copious amounts of hair flips and conspicuous plugging of cream cheese. The seemingly bizarre behavior reflected the over-sexualization of women as selling points, as well as shameless product endorsement.

Dr. Johnathan Wallis, an assistant professor of art history at Moore and the liberal arts chair, described the power of Drumgoole’s videos.

“She engaged the community of women,” he said. “She created a collaborative byproduct which I think is testament to the idea of the potential of art when it is practiced outside of its traditional boundaries.”

Deen took notice as the videos were gaining popularity. After receiving ostensible praise from Deen via online comments, Drumgoole flew to Savannah to dine with her and the other contestants at Deen’s restaurant. When she got there, Deen was nowhere to be found. Instead, the contest producer greeted her.

“She took me aside and started talking trash about all these women,” Drumgoole said. “Then she said, ‘I’m Paula Deen. I was writing about the videos, not [the actual] Paula [and] if you tell anyone, I’ll ruin you.’”

“It was part tragic, part angering,” continued Drumgoole. “It’s a system set up to exploit individuals and entice them. The company has this idea of creating a fake persona to use it for marketing purposes.”

Drumgoole attributes much of this deception to the production company behind the contest, Eqal.

“I don’t think Kraft knew that Eqal was running it like this,” she said. “You don’t f— with people’s heroes to get them to buy cream cheese. It’s just dirty and gross to me.”

Drumgoole informed the other women about the truth behind the contest. They joined in her crusade by sending Drumgoole their own videos of hair flips, which Drumgoole pieced together into a hair flipping tribute she described as, “à la Tawny Kitaen from a Whitesnake video.” Drumgoole’s videos had then transformed into farcical social commentaries on the illusory policies of corporate charlatans and celebrity chefs.

In her final video entry, Drumgoole set out to finally expose the man behind the curtain. In the video, she and her mother traveled to Delaware to Deen’s book signing. Her mom talked to Deen about the specific comments she wrote about her daughter’s videos.

“She did all of those hair flips for you,” her mother said. “And the Rambo cheese head mould. Would you do a hair flip with us?”

Deen stared in blank confusion.

“What’s a hair flip?” she said.

In an act of ultimate triumph, Drumgoole stopped in front of Deen and flipped her vibrant red hair in the face of corporate America.

After the revelation at Dean’s uncaring insincerity, Drumgoole’s mom cried in disbelief.

“She was a mean b—-!” her mom said.

Drumgoole ended the final video by killing the illusion and lighting her “chef” wigs, Philadelphia cream cheese box and cookbook, signed by Deen, on fire. Drumgoole muses on the meaning behind the cream cheese, hair-flipping madness.

“Companies, corporations, marketers – they need to treat consumers with a little bit more respect because they, the consumers, are all viewed as dollar signs that they can manipulate in every way,” Drumgoole said. “They need to give people a little bit more respect.”

Jessica Herring can be reached at


  1. This is yet another reminder that social media is a double edged sword. We live in an age of “personal empowerment” and if the allegations are true you really cannot expect to get away with this type of behavior without someone online pointing it out. Of all the companies that should not have fallen into this trap it is Eqal.

    What were you thinking Miles?

  2. Most celebrities have someone who handles things like online comments or tweets. Celebrities these days are as much a brand and a company as they are a person.

    Newsflash: celebrities also have people who pick out their clothes and do their hair and makeup. There is a whole team of people these days propping up celebrities. Criticizing them for having a social media manager or whatever the title is called this week is tantamount to criticizing an actor for having a writer. Even the President of the United States has a speech writer.

    Of course, all of this is moot, because being upset about a celebrity not really interacting with a fan is not what this story is about. Drumgoole stated that she was out to show that ‘big evil corporations’ are cold-hearted. She started out with an agenda and seems to have been Hell bent on making the facts fit her template.

    It is quite telling that the one piece of evidence offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted came from an unidentified ‘producer’ without corroborating testimony. No one else witnessed the alleged exchange.

    Absent this incident, what remains is a person seeking attention with an agenda to prove corporations are uncaring entities becoming upset because a celebrity did not remember her.


  3. Matheias – That is how someone like YOU (an EMPLOYEE of Eqal) would think: to map out a plan to deceive people. The large percentage of the population doesn’t see deception as a means to an end. Jenny has nothing to gain by this, but Eqal has everything to lose by being exposed.

    Let’s start talking about the association of Eqal with LonelyGirl 15. The entire setup was mapped out. It was a PLAN of DECEPTION. Furthermore, it was sickening that grown men came up with an idea to have an underage girl share details of her life to gain a following. Talk about encouraging some strange behavior! This was a sensation? To make people believe a 15 year old girl was sharing details of her life (first kiss, etc). As an adult, I can’t even imagine thinking that putting an underage girl’s life up on youtube (fictitious or no) would be a wise decision. It makes a person wonder what’s going on in the minds of certain individuals.

    Furthermore, I think Kraft must’ve had a screw loose to hire these same characters to represent their product. What they got was what they hired: a company willing to deceive. Call it what you want, but deception and Eqal go hand in hand. This has been proven since the exposure of the whole Lonely Girl incident, and it appears that Jenny Drumgoole is a WHISTLE BLOWER. Obviously, a person of your position wouldn’t want anyone to believe Jenny’s story. I believe it! I COMPLETELY believe it!

    Eqal did NOT make it clear that they were PRETENDING to be Paula Deen. Eqal made it appear that Paula Deen was, in fact, an active participant on their website. Anyone can go to the website right now and SEE how things are being supposedly written BY Paula Deen and how people on that website are believing that Paula Deen HAS noticed them and HAS made comments to them.

    Matheias – I’m sure quite a few people on your website would be upset to find out about being fooled by Eqal. Why not go post it on the site now and tell them? Tell them that Paula Deen doesn’t even know about the things she’s saying to them. Tell them that they all should’ve known that you had a GHOST WRITER for her. Tell them right now. Oh, that’s right. You don’t need to tell them EVER because they should already know (unless they’re a bunch of idiots like all of you think, right?).

    Now, Matheias, you’re asking the general public to believe that once a person like Paula Deen is signed onto a product and once it is presented to them that the celebrity is participating in the site that the general public is SERIOUSLY supposed to KNOW that Paula Deen isn’t even AWARE of what is being written BY HER on your site? Let’s go over this: Paula Deen is involved with Philadelphia Cream Cheese. She is obviously being paid to have her name attached to it. She was at an event this summer to pick winners of your hostess contest. She acted as though she knew what was going on. There have been several postings on the site with Paula Deen’s name attached using her type of speech (Ya’ll), and directed at different people on the site. The people who are on the site are people who adore her. Eqal is PLAYING OFF OF THEIR DESIRE to want to KNOW her. Eqal is ACTIVELY deceiving the people on their website and KNOWS they have a following on that site BECAUSE people believe Paula Deen is involved. If this was not the case, Paula Deen wouldn’t have been signed on for another year.

    Who is the one who has an agenda? Eqal. Jenny has nothing to gain. Eqal has pockets to fill. In the process, people like Jenny get hurt.

  4. Amen to Nightingale,
    I was a RWOP and did videos for the contest. I own a restaurant and we have a small stage for entertaining. My husband entertains at times; being in the limelight comes very easily to him, but not for me.There are times I needed to join him on stage and I hated it. I did not do the contest to become a superstar for sure, however, I wanted to become more comfortable with a camera in my face,with being on stage, and get used to seeing and hearing myself on film,(which was SO HUMILIATING at first) My first few videos were so difficult, it took hours to complete, stopping, starting, redoing, I really felt like a complete idiot, my 12 year old daughter did most of the filming. I remember usually ending up completely frustrated,both of us near tears. I thought to myself several times, “why am I doing this, it’s suppose to be fun.” At one time there was a post on the RWOP from “Paula Deen” stating how she was so darn happy to see all us girls having so much fun, and how some of us even had our families and kids helping, and it was bringing her so much joy to see that… I felt like crap, thinking to myself, “if Paula Deen was in my kitchen seeing the way I am acting with my daughter she would be so disappointed. I really felt terrible that I was not one of those wonderful mamas enjoying all the quality time filming with the family! I often felt I was the only one feeling these things,and how could that really be “real.” However, once I started making friends on the site, I realized we were great women, many of us with the same insecurities and frustrations.I knew it didn’t matter if I did not receive the mother of the year award, I wanted to do this for myself,so I did just that. I really put myself out there, I actually did some acting(if you call it that!) as “Paula Deen” had posted a message to us girls to be more creative. I came up with this goofy scene where I received an award for my cooking show, then it switched to a dream, then went into my recipe. IT WAS SO HARD,(but apparently great material for some at Eqal to entertain themselves with) After doing a few videos, I gained more confidence, but most of all, I met AMAZING women…these women are REAL, as real life as they come. Jenny Drumgoole is one of them, she did not set out to destroy Eqal, they brought it on themselves. She just became like the mama bear protecting her cubs,as she started seeing through the whole darn thing. I went to Savannah to support the winners, I flew clear across the United States, not to meet Paula Deen, but to support all the winners. I hate flying, spent far too much money on a ticket and so many other things, but I did it out of the LOVE I felt and relationships I forged. There was a group of about 30 RWOP women who went to Savannah,and we also entertained at the Lucas Theater. We danced and sang to ALL YOU SINGLE LADIES, changed to ALL YOU PHILLY LADIES. Again, I’m not a dancer, I spent days learning the steps, had friends work with me, and in the end I nailed it! I danced in front of 1000 people, thankfully their eyes were on Paula Deen.I know it may seem kind of goofy, but here we were.. from all different walks of life, different ages, shapes and abilities, and we all danced and sang like no one was watching! When I returned home I was changed by the REAL gals I met,including OUR Jenny, and I knew I had a whole new group of friends for life. Unfortunetly, soon after returning home it was posted on the site that during the next phase of the contest(recipes) “professionals” could not participate. Seriously? I was welcomed into this group to do recipe videos and possibly become a host of the RWOP, but now I was booted. I went back into the site and found quotes from “Paula Deen” about how, “Ya’ll (you ALL) are going to be so excited for the next phase, wait till Ya’all(you ALL) see what’s in store for you.” Another corportate decision, that hurt people. I’m not the type to wallow in pity, and really, I didn’t know how many recipes I wanted to give up anyway, but it just seemed so weird how a big company such as Kraft, would get all these women pumped up, exploite the heck out of them, then change the rules mid stream. I still have the memories and connections with many of my girls, for this I am forever grateful. Jenny is an amazing talented women, she should be on SNL, many of us feel that, she is hilarious, and gutsy! I believe we should all be able to stand up for what we feel is honorable and right, few of us have those guts, but Jenny did it for us, her “cubs”. And to those of you at Eqal who made fun and laughed at ANY videos, I would love to see you try it. I’m glad I could contribute to your late night amusement.I have thick skin, but some I befriended do not, and you really exploited and screwed with them…shame on you for that, and you know what I’m talking about if you choose to read this LONG rant! Thanks Jenny, you did the right thing, not always the most popular, but the right thing. To all my RWOP friends, you will always be a part of me. I think we would all agree the contest for us ended up having very little to do with cooking,or cream cheese… it was about love for eachother, we’ve been there to support eachother through very difficult times. Can those in celebrity status or corporate America understand that? Sadly, I doubt it, (although I know there are great people in those positions, too) I end with the defintion of “real”…existing as or in fact actual, true. Authentic, genuine….We are indeed “REAL” women, perhaps this should be a learning experience for corporate America to be “real.”

  5. I’m sure “EVERYONE” did not allow this to happen. Perhaps, just a select few. Perhaps, management has no clue as to how the “others” are running the site. We could give Eqal the benefit of the doubt and assume they just hired some less than professional people to run the website for Kraft. However, let’s go back to how it was all founded on deception. It was a proven method for Eqal with LonelyGirl 15. A direct attempt to deceive the public in order to create a following. Again, used on the website. This is their marketing approach. Get a celebrity to sign on and use the celebrity’s name to manipulate people into believing the celebrity cares about his/her existence. Deception to sell and create a following.

    TJ – Walks like a duck. Talks like a duck. You’re another Eqal employee? Keep quacking.

  6. I’m Jenny’s mom. The reason Jenny entered the contest was because I encouraged her to. I was a “fan” of Paula Deen on facebook and recieved information about The Real Women O Philadelphia cooking contest. Jenny’s a really good cook and she is a genius with a video camera. She and her husband had just bought a home they were remodeling it and thought if she won something the money could help out. At first she told me no…she was too busy with work. I kept calling her and finally she said okay. We talked about recipes and week one came. I shared the video with all my friends and we all got a good laugh. We never thought they would accept the video because she broke so many rules. Week 2 came and she did the Rambo cheese head and everyone loved it! That week she called me and said Paula Deen had made a comment on the site about how Jenny Drumgoole had her “howling in Savannah”. I couldn’t wait to share the page with all my friends. Friends and family all loved Jenny’s videos so she kept making them and flipping her hair. Her hair flipping video was chosen as one the of top creative videos. She said she was going to get my cookbooks signed by Paula Deen for me. That’s why she made the videos. When she came back from Savannah she told me what had happened and that the cookbook never got signed. Then we got the idea to go to the Delaware State Fair and get it signed. I kept thinking……okay Kraft is in it to make money but I really thought if we got there that I could ask Paula Deen to do a hair flip with us and that would be a great way to end it. But that never happened. I’m so very proud of my daughter….she’s the best!

  7. Unfortunately, what Jenny revealed is absolutely true. I “seriously” participated in the RWOP contest and was an integral part of the Savannah “unofficial” participation (e.g., the stage dance of the RWOP community). I have made many friends via the RWOP contest and know these women to be sincere in their motives — all due to their dedication and love of Paula Deen. Many of these women spent their family’s annual vacation funds to come to Savannah to MEET Paula Deen (and didn’t)…Many of these women spent hundreds of dollars on groceries to make recipes for the contest to MEET Paula Deen. Paula Deen had NOTHING to do with the women who came to the contest finale. She didn’t even make a token appearance when the women came to her and her brother’s restaurants and spent hundreds of dollars. I asked for signed cookbooks for all of those women and ended up being online crucified for that…It didn’t mean that much to me — but I know it would have meant the WORLD to a lot of these women to have been recognized for their time, effort and investment. I did and still do think it is shameful for the level of exploitation and manipulation of this “contest.” I applaud Jenny for her efforts. It was only at the end of the contest that she realized all were being manipulated. I don’t think her initial intentions were to “expose” anything…I think she entered this contest to entertain and demonstrate her art – and to get a signed cookbook for her mom. We all loved what she did! It was only at the end where she (and the rest of us) realized that we’d been duped and that Paula Deen really had nothing to do with the contest except at the end.

    I understand celebrity. I understand endorsement deals.

    But at the end of the day, I also undersatnd that the celebrity and the cause should recognize the people who make the movement possible. EQAL should have made sure that Paula Deen was more accessible to the “little people”…sad to think that 50 signed cookbooks could have made a world of difference to a very large community!

    Jenny – you are a brilliant artist — and I know you love your mom!

    I do think the EQAL and Kraft marketing idea will go down in history as an incredible example of the power of social media and viral marketing. It was well done. But somehow the corporate engine lost sight of the actual people who made it happen…I hope Round 2 shows that they learned something from the mistakes they made in Round 1.

  8. I hear EQAL choking on good old American Apple Pie. Hope it happens over on Boardwalk and Park Place where Kraft and Company live. Even your OWN PRODUCT is holding you accountable. Don’t mess with “Rambo Cheese Head.” Your ingratitude toward your fan base ends up in a Hair Flip. You can’t restore credibility when it didn’t exist in the first place. Put those ingredients in your relationship with EQAL and Kraft, Paula Deen. And get busy on a recipe for Humble Pie to serve to whatever fans you have left. You might want to offer Jenny Drumgoole and her Mom the first two slices.

  9. Jenny was overwhelmed by the love and support she found from the ladies on the RWOP website. She kept telling me that the women reminded her of me. When she discovered the truth in Savannah she was outraged at the way they had been used and taken advantage of. I’m so proud she was able to expose the way Eqal treated them.

  10. I would be shocked if Jenny didn’t know what she was getting into, her brand of art would seem to require that level of awareness, and they don’t let dummies into Yale.

    I come to this having watched EQAL from its lonelygirl15 origins until now. I have been very critical of EQAL many times. (BTW, investigating TJ Marsh is not worth anyone’s time, he’s not an official spokesperson, he’s an enigmatic super fan.)

    what EQAL is doing is nothing new. I’m reminded of the scene in Christmas Story, which is set in the 1940s, where Ralphie get his secret decoder ring, sure he is now part of the inside clique and about to get some special information. And the information is “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.” He was duped! All adults watching the movie laugh at his naivete, of course, because we have learned from experience that advertising is a simulated reality.

    I guess some of the RWOP women fell into the same trap that Ralphie did, and it no better now than it was then. But its nothing new. Sure, the medium is new to some of the participants, and the tactics therefore not immediately recognized, but its not different in substance.

  11. If you feel this campaign was handled improperly and would like next season’s contestants handled differently, you can contact Kraft Foods directly:

    Kraft USA Corporate Office Headquarters HQ Address
    Three Lakes Drive
    Northfield, IL 60093
    Corporate Phone Number:1-847-646-2000
    Fax Number:1-847-646-6005
    Email Address:

    Kraft Foods Global, Inc.
    Global Consumer Relations
    1 Kraft Court
    Glenview, IL 60025

    Twitter: @kraftfoods

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