Whole Foods, Half Truths

By: Mollie Wilson

“Rahodeb was an online pseudonym of John Mackey, co-founder and chief executive of Whole Foods Market Inc….For about eight years until last August, the company confirms, Mr. Mackey posted numerous messages on Yahoo Finance stock forums as Rahodeb. It’s an anagram of Deborah, Mr. Mackey’s wife’s name….Rahodeb expressed pride in the CEO’s work. ‘While I’m not a “Mackey groupie,”‘ he wrote in 2000, ‘I do admire what the man has accomplished.'” — The Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2007

No official reaction has been issued by the Unauthorized John Mackey Fan Club or its officers (president Jonathan McKey, vice-president Mack Johnny and treasurer Johnny Mack Brown). The issue has not been raised in the club’s very active online discussion forums (most popular thread: “What Do You Love Most About John Mackey?”).

Fact-checkers are advised not to rely on Mackey’s personal Wikipedia entry (currently locked to prevent further editing), which has, on various occasions and without citation, described the CEO as “handsome,” “too smart for MENSA,” “really good at Monopoly” and “consistently underestimated and underpraised by family, friends and competitors.”

Amateur investors may want to reevaluate their reliance on the “Supermarket Spotlight” blog — updated daily by “produce enthusiast” Deb Raho — which has named Whole Foods Market its “Retailer of the Week” for the past 93 consecutive weeks.

Readers should not be excessively influenced by comments posted to the “Supermarket Spotlight” blog by “R.H. Adobe” (the site’s only commenter), including, “UR so right about Whole Foods!” “Waiting in line is just part of the experience!” and “I’d rather shop at Whole Foods than do just about anything, except eat the delicious food I buy there!”

Customers have flagged as “unhelpful” a number of product reviews on Amazon.com, written by “Top 1000 Reviewer” B.D. O’Hare, that mention Whole Foods or its products favorably (e.g., “Justin Timberlake and Timbaland are a delightful team, as fruitful as the partnership between Whole Foods and Jamba Juice!”).

Local authorities are investigating a series of pizzas ordered over the telephone by “Herb Ado” and delivered to the home of former Wild Oats Markets Inc. CEO Perry Odak on several Friday nights this past winter (always with a topping of locally-grown wheatgrass, at an additional $6.50 per pie).

Human Resources departments at several major corporations are questioning the authenticity of a reference letter from Professor Jack Yame, recommending Mackey “in the strongest possible terms” for “any job for which he might apply” — despite Mackey’s failure to complete his college degree, which Professor Yame says “would have been an empty formality, in this case.”

Journalists have called attention to several comments on Mackey’s MySpace profile, complimenting his facial hair (“Nice ‘stache, bro! Wish I had one!” from “HoleFudsboy”), “Books” selections (“I luv The Little Prince too OMG its so amaaazing,” from “Deb Rules”) and management style (“You are the best boss to work for! I tell everybody! They are so jealous they don’t work for you too! But I tell them they should move to Denver where your store is hiring part-time employees! I tell them interviews are held between 9 and 11, Monday thru Wednesday! And they should bring 2 copies of their résumé! Whole Foods is an EEO that does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion or sexual orientation! TTYL!” from “Mack the Knife”). Further investigation reveals that all of these comments come from users whose profiles list “Whole Foods CEO John Mackey!!!” under “Who I’d like to meet.”

High school classmates of Mackey’s cannot vouch for images in his “Prom Memories” photo album — including those captioned “Posing with my date,” “Crowned King and Queen!”” and “One at a time, ladies, one at a time!” — which closer inspection reveals to be composites created using craft paste, an X-Acto knife and back issues of Seventeen magazine.

Permanent record files at Mackey’s grade school offer no explanation for a third-grade report card on which someone, reportedly Mackey’s teacher, wrote “Grate job this year!” in suspiciously amateurish cursive.

The members of Whole Foods Market, Inc.’s board of directors have been asked to disregard an anonymous letter sent to their homes, signed “A Concerned Silent Partner” and insisting that Mackey’s actions are “probably not illegal,” “really quite shrewd, when you think about it,” and “certainly not the sort of thing that should inspire a vote of no confidence on your part.”


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