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5 Celebrities Who Shill For Pathetic Junk Food and Drinks

Beyoncé for Pepsi, Jennifer Aniston for Smartwater: Many celebrities shill for products that are worthless, or worse.

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3. Rachael Ray for Dunkin Donuts

It’s sort of hilarious -- and telling of our culture -- that the big controversy surrounding a 2008 Dunkin Donuts commercial featuring TV chef Rachel Ray centered on the “jihad scarf” she was wearing. (It was a keffiyeh.)

Actually, people should’ve been much more concerned about Ray endorsing a company that sells processed sugar-laden crap while putting local coffeehouses out of business, to boot. This is especially true since one of Ray’s big focuses is teaching home cooks how to prepare healthy meals.

Her choice of accessories could not have mattered less, but her choice of an endorsement deal should matter to Rachael Ray fans, who look to her for healthy recipes. Indeed, some critics did pick up on her hypocrisy; celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain (who is admittedly no fan of Ray’s) called the deal “evil” and likened it to “peddling crack to kids.”

For her part, Ray admitted after the “keffiyeh kerfuffle” that the Dunkin Donuts endorsement wasn’t the best PR move but said “she respected the company's attempt to make donuts healthier by removing trans fats, and said she doesn't regret her decision.”

4. Venus and Serena Williams for Double Stuf Oreos

The Williams sisters are in many ways great role models for young women, especially young tennis players who don’t have too many other elite players of color to look up to. And we certainly don’t begrudge them their financial success, which for athletes almost always involves a number of product endorsements. But there is one endorsement deal that we have to question: Double Stuf Oreos? Really?

In 2009, along with football stars Peyton and Eli Manning, the Williams sisters were part of the "Oreo Double Stuf Racing League," a campaign launched by Nabisco to see which of the siblings could twist, lick and dunk their cookies the fastest, and ultimately, of course, sell more Oreos.

The Williams sisters promote all kinds of great things, from childhood athleticism to women’s rights in Nigeria. Double Stuf Oreos just isn’t one of them.

5. Padma Lakshmi (and yes, Paris Hilton) for Carl’s Jr.

By now, everyone is familiar with Paris Hilton’s ridiculously sexual ad for Carl’s Jr. No one was the least bit surprised that she would do such a thing, so for the purposes of this article, we don’t really care.

But a Carl’s Jr. commercial featuring model and Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi flew more under the radar. The ad is less sexually explicit than Hilton’s – Lakshmi hikes up her skirt and licks her wrist provocatively, but at least she’s fully clothed. And anyway, the overt sexuality of the commercial isn’t even its biggest problem (Lakshmi is a model, after all). What’s disappointing is that Lakshmi has made a second career for herself by promoting good food, and in one of her cookbooks, low-fat food. Fast-food burgers and fries don’t quite jibe with that persona.

You also have to wonder if Lakshmi was aware that Carl’s Jr. was founded by an anti-gay and anti-abortion activist (Carl Karcher, who was ousted from the company in 1993 and died in 2008).

Lauren Kelley is the activism and gender editor at AlterNet and a freelance journalist based in New York City. Her work has appeared in Salon, Time Out New York, the L Magazine, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter.