Richmond, Va.—Country music star and sausage king Jimmy Dean died June 13 at the age of 81, but he left behind a priceless legacy that might soon save the Gulf of Mexico from ruin.
In his will, Dean left millions of tons of sausage grease to British Petroleum, the hapless oil company that can’t seem to stop an errant well from spewing up to 2.5 million gallons of raw petroleum a day into what was once one of the world’s most pristine marine environments.
“It was Jimmy’s dying wish that BP would use his sausage grease to plug the oil well, just as it’s been clogging American’s arteries for decades,” said his wife, Donna Meade Dean. “He told me that BP had tried using mud, old tires and even golf balls to stem the oil’s flow. But he firmly believed that was a crappy idea hatched by Euro-morons, and that nothing in heaven or earth is more effective at plugging pipes than pure-dee American pork lard.”
The grease is a by-product of the process used to manufacture Jimmy Dean brand products like Heat ‘N Serve Sausage Links, Griddle Cake Sandwiches and the incredibly tasty but probably deadly Blueberry Pancakes & Sausage On A Stick. The company donates some of its leftover grease to developing nations for use in fuel, machine lubricant and baby formula. But it creates more than it can legally get rid of, and has been forced to stockpile tens of millions of tons of it in 50-gallon barrels in Dean’s backyard.
BP officials welcomed the donation.
“We’ve tried everything else, so what the hell, let’s give grease a chance, as John Lennon might say,” BP’s affable CEO Tony Heyward said. “Although I continue to think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest, it’s worth a shot if it will allow me to get back to my regular life. Jimmy Dean certainly knew a thing or two about blocking pipes.”
BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg agreed.
“I hope this news heartens the small people who have been impacted most by this tragic event,” Svanberg said. “And by ‘small people,’ I don’t mean people who are short, or less important than mega-rich oil executives like myself. I mean the hard-working Americans who bitched and whined about the oil spill until we felt compelled to create a $20 billion relief fund for fishermen who’ve lost their jobs as a result of our mistakes. I mean our contractor’s mistakes. Not our mistakes. This is all their fault, you know. We’re just stepping in to give them a hand because we’re the environmental company with the happy green-and-yellow flower logo.”
U.S. President Barack Obama said he was heartened by the news of Dean’s donation.
“Only Americans like Jimmy Dean, using good old American ingenuity, can find a way to take a virtually useless product like pork lard and put it to use for the benefit of the American people,” Obama said. “Dean was an American hero, and I really liked his hit song Big Bad John, too. That was a real toe-tapper.”
Born in 1928, when nobody cared about the environment or their health, Dean was raised in poverty in Plainview, Texas, and dropped out of high school after the ninth grade. He went on to a successful entertainment career in the 1950s and ’60s that included the nationally televised The Jimmy Dean Show.
In 1969, Dean went into the sausage business, starting the Jimmy Dean Meat Co. in his hometown. He sold the company to Sara Lee Corp. in 1984.
Dean lived in semiretirement with his wife, who is a songwriter and recording artist, on their 200-acre estate just outside Richmond, where he enjoyed investing, boating and, after he got really, really old, watching the sun set over the James River.
In 2009, a fire gutted their home, but his Grammy for Big Bad John, a puppet made by Muppets creator Jim Henson, a clock that had belonged to Prince Charles and Princess Diana and other valuables were saved. Lost were a collection of celebrity-autographed books, posters of Dean with Elvis Presley and other prized possessions such as his collection of sausage links and his videotaped library of Star Trek episodes.