On 23 September 2016 Facebook user Taylor Wilkes published a post reporting that her “buddy’s sister” went to a WalMart store in Georgia to order a “thin blue line” cake for her police officer father’s retirement party, but workers there refused her order on the grounds that it was “racist”:

#BOYCOTTWALMART: So my buddy’s sister went to Walmart in McDonough, GA to have a cake made for their father’s retirement party. He’s retiring from being a police officer. She asked Walmart to make a “thin blue line” cake to commemorate his extensive and honorable service as a dedicated police officer. Walmart refused to honor her request due to it being “racist.” Three separate people in management denied her request for this reason. To me, this is appalling. There is nothing racist about the symbolism behind the “thin blue line,” yet people CHOOSE to make EVERYTHING about race. I’m so tired of it. It’s literally exhausting for me to think about now. It’s only ignorant people who continue to spread this negativity. People need to educate themselves. Bottom line. I’m just waiting for the day that our American flag is deemed “racist” by ignorant instigators who are just looking for attention and for something to be upset about. It’s really getting ridiculous.

But a few days later, Fox News opinion columnist Todd Starnes published an article on the subject, reporting what the (unnamed) officer’s daughter told him:

She showed the bakers a photograph of the police officer’s flag — the black and white version of Old Glory with a blue line.

“One of the bakers told me the design could be perceived as racist and nobody feels comfortable decorating the cake,” the police officer’s daughter told me.

As an alternative, she suggested a chocolate-frosted cake with a horizontal, frosted blue line.

But that design was also rejected by Walmart’s cake decorator.

“She said, ‘I don’t feel comfortable doing this,’” the cop’s daughter told me. “I asked her, ‘Is there something wrong with cops?’”

After being rejected for a third time, the 21-year-old told the bakers, “I’ll find another bakery, thank you.”

This is where the story gets confusing. Reportedly a Walmart manager stepped in and produced the cake requested himself, and although his efforts were less than satisfactory, they had to do because there was no time to obtain a replacement cake:

The manager offered to make and decorate a new cake. But there was just one problem — the cake decorators refused to comply.

“So the manager told me that he would decorate it — but it looked terrible,” the police officer’s daughter said. “It doesn’t look professional.”

I’ve attached photographs of Walmart’s handiwork — it’s absolutely embarrassing and unacceptable.

Unfortunately, her father’s retirement party is Sunday night — so there’s no time to go elsewhere.

The cake depicted in an attendant photograph was a simple black cake divided in half by a blue horizontal stripe, with the words “Blue Lives Matter” rendered in frosting above and below the stripe. The cake did not include any inscription or decoration featuring the name of the retiring officer, or any reference to retirement:

bluelives

On 24 September 2016 (the date of the putative party) Tyler Wilkes published an update about Walmart’s response to the controversy, confusingly reporting that the Walmart manager’s offer to step in and make the cake had been turned down because a cake had already been obtained from Kroger, which contradicted the Fox News account stating that the manager had already produced a cake that looked “terrible” but had to be used because “there’s no time to go elsewhere” [for a replacement cake]:

Update on the Walmart situation: The manager at Walmart met with my friend’s sister and offered to make the cake (which had already been taken care of by Kroger) and apologized for the mistake. He stated that Walmart fully supports law enforcement and donated some extra stuff for the retirement party along with a gift card in lieu of the cake.

If you ask me, I think he just did that because, thanks to you all, this got so much attention, and he didn’t want it to go farther than it did. The way the meeting was described to me was that it was very scripted and not very sincere. So, although the mistake was “made right,” I will still not be shopping at Walmart due to the “quality” of employees they hire. But that’s just me. Please share this post just like you shared the other one so that people may get the update and form their own opinion … Myself as well as my friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, thank you for your continued support in this matter, as well as your unwavering support for law enforcement! #ThinBlueLine #BoycottWalmart

Starnes’ account claimed that “Walmart has confessed that most of [the daughter’s] allegations are true” but merely quoted the same Walmart statement we received, which confirmed only that the customer had been contacted and offered an apology but not any of the details of the issue:

Our goal is to always take care of customers. But, sometimes we misstep … We have addressed this issue with everyone involved and are taking steps to make sure no other customers have this kind of experience in our stores. We’re glad we were able to connect with the family to apologize and make this right.

Even more confusingly, a Walmart spokesperson told us that the woman had originally ordered a cake with a blue line alone, not a cake bearing the words “Blue Lives Matter” or any other inscribed phrase, and added that the cake seen above was “not the cake” that left the store — as requested, Walmart said, the customer received a cake that simply featured a “thin blue line” and bore no inscription. 

In the aftermath of the controversy, the McDonough, Georgia, Walmart’s Facebook page was inundated with one-star reviews and angry comments, similar to outrage expressed during a similar controversy over an “ISIS cake.”