Cotton Incorporated responded on Tuesday to a viral Facebook controversy surrounding a Hobby Lobby decoration that angered a customer.
The customer shared a photo of a cotton decoration on Sept. 14, 2017 on Facebook, and said it is reminiscent of slavery and those who were forced to pick cotton. She called for the retailer to remove the item from shelves.
"We were surprised at the initial post because cotton has been sold in craft stores and used as a botanical decoration for decades," a Cotton Incorporated spokesman said in a statement. "Based on the responses to the original post, it does not seem that most people conflate a decorative choice with a regrettable chapter in American history."
On Monday, Sept. 18, the "Cotton Stems in Glass Vase" item on Hobby Lobby's website was on sale for $15, marked down from $29.99. It is described as a natural decor with hints of the great outdoors, including large fluffs of white cotton finish on each stem.
Cotton Incorporated argues that the cotton industry has changed since the days before the Civil War.
"The U.S. cotton industry today bears little resemblance to that of the last century or the one before. Modern U.S. cotton is a socially and environmentally responsible industry that provides textile fiber, feed for animals and food for the growing world population," the spokesman added.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Hobby Lobby had responded to a request for comment on the controversy. Hobby Lobby has not yet responded to a request for comment. Scripps regrets the error.