Penzeys spent nearly $120,000 on Facebook advertisements addressing politics during those seven days, Facebook data showed. (That’s less than Democratic presidential candidates like Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Elizabeth Warren, but more than Pete Buttigieg.)
The company’s ads aren’t subtle. “This week the curtain was finally pulled back on how deeply un-American the Republican Party has become,” said one Facebook post on Oct. 3, referring to the impeachment inquiry against Mr. Trump. The same post encouraged readers to sign up for a cooking newsletter.
But Mr. Penzey has been politically outspoken for a while, and that’s no secret to his customers. Followers of the chain’s Facebook page regularly see long messages criticizing the latest Trump administration news, with spice-related content sprinkled in.
In May, the company advertised a spice called “Justice” — the ingredients include shallots, garlic, onion and green peppercorns — while soliciting donations for the news organization Mother Jones. In July, it promoted a spice called Tsardust Memories — it has salt, garlic, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg and marjoram — as a nod to Russian electoral interference, insisting in all caps that the issue was “NOT A NOTHING BURGER!!!!!”
In November, the company used Facebook to encourage people to vote in the midterm elections. “Don’t let history lump you in with the white hoods and robes crowd,” Mr. Penzey said in a Nov. 2 post. “History has its eyes on all of us, and history remembers.”
Facebook has been criticized for taking a hands-off approach to moderating political content — including paid ads — even when they include false information. But it has also been accused of censorship by conservative politicians, including Mr. Trump, who argue that the social network is more accommodating to liberal points of view.
Penzeys may use “season liberally” as a trademarked slogan, but its outspokenness is not just a reaction to the president.