The backlash began in August, when Cider Flats Apple Orchard posted an update to its Facebook page regarding postponed operations at the orchard. The author of the post said the new changes and restrictions were "due to the utter chaos with the China Virus."
A flood of thousands of angry comments followed, including ones from customers who quipped, "Aaaaaand the announcement next will be that they are fully shutting down for ignorance. Way to kill your own business." Another commenter opined, "I think a sharp drop in sales can be expected."
Several other commenters tried to point out that, although Covid-19 was first reported in China, the virus has spread in nearly every other country in the world, and referring to it as Chinese only encourages discrimination toward Asian people. Furthermore, some clever commenters reminded the orchard that Kazakhstan, a country in Central Asia that borders China, is known as the birthplace of the apple.
Rather than apologise or walk back its comments, however, the orchard doubled down in a Facebook post published the next day.
"Yes, I called it the China Virus," the second post reads. "No, I am not ignorant or racist. No, I am not disrespectful. No, I will not change it. No, I will not apologize for it. Did I show my political bias, possibly. If Kazakhstan is the origin of apples, that's good to know."
The saga didn't end there. In a third post, the orchard held its stance, writing, "In regards to the China Virus, I take full responsibility for my thoughts, words, and actions but will never let anyone ever try to put another's thoughts, words, or actions on my shoulders." The orchard also insisted that "until this cancel culture stops," it will continue to use the phrase "China Virus" in every future post.
"Yes, I will go the distance on this," they wrote.
True to their word, a 3 September post ended with another racist rant: "Okay, I'll surrender and never call it China Virus again," the post read. "I have decided to call it what it really is, the CCP Virus! The Communist Chinese Party Virus so we never forget exactly where it originated."
Like every post before it, thousands of commenters turned up yet again, with many vowing to boycott the orchard.
As of this week, the Cider Flats Apple Orchard has continued to consistently post on Facebook, though none of its recent posts address the controversy or mention "China Virus." The phrase does, however, appear in a blog post on the orchard's website.
President Donald Trump has previously defended using the term "China virus" to refer to the coronavirus, despite the recommendations of health officials who pointed out that the disease has become a global pandemic.
On Thursday, The House voted to condemn racism against Asian Americans tied to the coronavirus outbreak. The resolution calls on all public officials to condemn anti-Asian sentiment and to investigate hate crimes after a rise in violence from those blaming people of Asian descent for the pandemic.