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Frozen custard company apologizes for promoting 'National Pro-Life Cupcake Day'

“It was never our intention to get political and appear as though we have taken a side in this ongoing debate," Kopp's Frozen Custard said in a statement Monday.
Image: Anti-abortion activists Protest Outside Planned Parenthood
Anti-abortion rights activists protest outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Washington on Jan. 20.Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

A frozen custard company has apologized after it promoted its cupcake-themed custard flavor in honor of the upcoming "National Pro-Life Cupcake Day."

Kopp's Frozen Custard, which has three restaurants in the Milwaukee area, apologized Monday for promoting its "Hey Cupcake" custard flavor in connection with the day on Oct. 9, which was founded by an anti-abortion rights group called Cupcakes for Life.

"Linking 'National Pro-Life Cupcake Day' with our long-running flavor 'Hey Cupcake,' was an oversight on our part and an honest mistake," Kopp's said in a statement on Twitter. "It was never our intention to get political and appear as though we have taken a side in this ongoing debate."

Kopp’s issued the apology after angry customers called it to complain, according to Jeff Feist, the general manager of Kopp's Greenfield, Wisconsin, location.

In the statement, Kopp’s pledged to “be more diligent in reviewing ... any flavors we may link to a national holiday.”

The company has removed the mention of "National Pro-Life Cupcake Day" and the "Hey Cupcake" flavor from its website, where a monthly "flavor preview" highlights two new "flavors of the day," in addition to vanilla and chocolate.

Feist told NBC News that the restaurant chain has long promoted custard flavors linked to celebrated days, such as National Chocolate Day on Oct. 28, when Kopp’s will promote its Swiss chocolate flavor, and Halloween, when its jack-o-lantern flavor will be one of the flavors of the day.

In this instance, he said, the person putting together this month’s flavor list saw “National Pro-Life Cupcake Day” and “the pro-life part went apparently right over their head,” Feist said.

“We’d never tie a flavor flippantly in with ... something that’s a national political question like that,” he added. “We’re just a family-run restaurant.”

Rebekah Flippin, the spokesperson for Cupcakes For Life, said the group's goal is to use the annual “National Pro-Life Cupcake Day” to "create a more positive message" about the anti-abortion rights movement.

Typically, Flippin said, anti-abortion rights activists across the country bake and distribute free cupcakes on Oct. 9, along with information about so-called crisis pregnancy centers, which dissuade women from having abortions and typically provide free pregnancy tests and other services. Some centers have also been found to spread medical misinformation to people seeking abortions.

"We just want to demonstrate, really, that not every baby gets a birthday," Flippin said of the annual cupcake day, which she said she has been involved with since 2011.

A search of the hashtag #ProlifeCupcakeDay shows years' worth of Twitter and Instagram posts featuring photos of cupcakes and efforts to distribute them.

Flippin said it was "unfortunate" that Kopp's apologized.

"I think that any opportunity [to discuss] pro-life or abortion should be open and welcome," said Flippin, 33, who lives near Cincinnati. "I think that's the primary effort of Pro-Life Cupcake Day, is to create conversations."