The outrage against Cracker Barrel's plant-based sausage is giving the...

The outrage against Cracker Barrel's plant-based sausage is giving the company plenty of exposure. Credit: For The Washington Post/Deb Lindsey

It wasn’t so long ago that a company like Cracker Barrel, if it wanted to publicize adding a new menu item to its delicious, dietarily disastrous offerings, would have advertised the change.

Despite social media, the restaurant/retailer with over 600 locations would still have had to pony up for television ads and radio spots if it was adding old favorites like Biscuit Beignets. This deep-fried buttermilk biscuit dough tossed in cinnamon sugar with butter pecan sauce could sell itself once word got out, but it can't advertise itself.

Ditto the Loaded Hashbrown Casserole Tater Tots, and the Stuffed Cheesecake Pancake Breakfast, notable because those four words work equally well in nearly all of their 24 possible combinations. Cheesecake Stuffed Pancake Breakfast? Why not! Breakfast Pancake Stuffed Cheesecake? OK, but with a Diet Coke!

But when Cracker Barrel wanted the world to learn of its new offering Monday morning, the company simply posted this on Facebook: “Discover new meat frontiers. Experience the out of this world flavor of Impossible™ Sausage Made From Plants next time you Build Your Own Breakfast.”

Plant-based protein? In that temple of animal fats, rocking chairs, penny candy, and whatever the country slang for tchotchkes is? Release the hounds, and unleash the free publicity!

The outrage machine against what conservative posters seemed to perceive as breakfast-meat communism, and the 10-times larger blowback against the grassroots supporters of the “Hog Hunks Only” sausage faction, are giving the company plenty of exposure.

By Wednesday, Cracker Barrel’s Facebook post had received over 4,000 reactions, nearly 7,000 comments and 1,000 shares, and the contentious conversation over serving Impossible breakfast sausages was attracting growing, priceless media coverage.

Some of the anti-plant sausage posts are so silly you have to check the person’s profile to see whether they’re being ironic or moronic. But the page of the man who posted “Send them back to (Bill) Gates. We don't eat in an old country store for woke burgers” makes it clear that the only way he could be more anti-woke is by sleeping 24/7. Ditto the fellow who posted: “Not in a billion years am I eating this. The only thing impossible will be how to recover from this mess.”

What’s brilliant about the marketing, besides being free, is that the haters are doing all the work, creating a buzz with their anti-Impossible screeds that’s been counteracted by far more respondents writing, essentially, “What the heck do you care if they serve something you don’t like?”

Politicizing goods and services and hobbies is the very height of tribalism. Defining what kinds of vehicles and clothes and foods and drinks and music and body adornments “we” support goes seamlessly with defining the goods and art and transportation “they” support … and “we” thus hate.

And then everyone scurries to get mad … or to act as if they are.

It’s destructive to hate over politics, but it’s even more corrosive to revile over assumed political signaling that may not accurately reflect beliefs or lifestyles.

Long Island doesn’t have a Cracker Barrel, though many locals have craved one loudly for decades. Hopefully they still do, even with the vegetarian sausages, because while Islanders can be as politically judgmental and tribal as anyone on Earth, they generally support unlimited diversity … in dining options.

Columnist Lane Filler's opinions are his own.