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Hail to the Ch-Ch-Ch-Chief
RUMFORD -- If you've been in the Rite-Aid on Congress Street anytime in the past month, you've likely walked past the "I'm Proud to be a Chia collection" display, filled with packages of Presidents Obama, Lincoln and Washington, along with the Statue of Liberty.
However, you will no longer find the one for President Obama for your last-minute Christmas list, not because it sold out but because they've been pulled from the display.
Last Thursday morning, as Jerry Clark, the store's manager, was assisting a customer in the photo department, he received an email from Rite-Aid corporate to remove the five $14.99 Obamas from the display.
"Maybe they thought it was in poor taste," surmised Clark as he gathered up the items. "Presidents Washington and Lincoln were okay. Maybe because they're no longer living...I think they did one for President Carter though. He's still alive."
Clark indicated that no reason was given for the removal and he indicated that it's likely he will not be provided with an explanation.
According to online The News Tribune blog, Ashley Flowers, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania-based drug store chain, said the Obama Chia's had been removed due to customer complaints.
Chia Obama is a Chia Pet resembling our president -- which sprouts to give him a little green afro.
The package says "Barack Obama 44th President USA" on the front of the pedestal and "Yes We Can" on the side. The box includes this message: "Hail to the Ch-Ch-Ch-Chief."
The question persists, did the company think it was promoting the president or was it offensive?
The website TMZ argues that "Obama's 'do' is caricature-like and, standing on its own, makes the Prez look like someone from 'What's Happening!'"
However, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln have also been made into Chia pets, and their hair more or less grows into "afros," too.
In April of 2009, Walgreens pulled the product after receiving a few complaints.
At any rate, the recall could make the Chia Obamas a collector's item. At this time, the entire "I'm Proud to be a Chia collection" continues to be available at K-Mart and and online at Amazon.