The 13th Floor

The Fascinating Urban Legend of Proctor & Gamble & the Church of Satan

It’s easy to see how some urban legends get their start. The story of razor blades in Halloween candy, for example, was blown out of proportion after a father killed his son with poison-laced Halloween candy. But some urban legends seem to come out of nowhere, with no basis in anything. Such is the urban legend that Procter & Gamble donates money to the Church of Satan.

Procter & Gamble is one of the biggest corporations in the world. Formed in 1830, the company owns dozens of brands specializing in health, beauty, and home care products. Bounty, Charmin, Crest, Pampers, Swiffer, Pantene, Gillette, Tide, and Tampax are just some of the companies under the P&G brand. If you clean anything, you have a P&G product in your house. 

The urban legend states that the president of P&G went onto a TV talk show and said that, due to the openness of society, he was “coming out” about his association with the Church of Satan, and that a “large portion of profits” go to the Church of Satan. When asked if this would hurt business, the president said that “there are not enough Christians in the United States to make a difference.” The supposed TV talk show varied over the years, including THE PHIL DONAHUE SHOW, THE JENNY JONES SHOW, and THE SALLY JESSE RAFAEL SHOW. Sally actually had to address the rumor on the show’s website FAQ, as late as 2003. No executives from P&G have ever appeared on any of the three shows, or any TV talk show of the 1980s. It was just an urban legend. Though that didn’t stop people from trying to show how the Proctor & Gamble symbol was supposedly satanic. 

This rumor seems to have started somewhere in 1980, though the exact source has never been found. A similar rumor started in 1977, but this one was about Ray Kroc, the owner of McDonald’s. The other details remain the same: Kroc appeared on a TV talk show and announced that he gave profits to the Church of Satan. The McDonald’s rumor seems to have spread from Akron, Ohio, where a parishioner claimed she heard Kroc on TV and asked her minister about it. The rumor spread from church to church across the country until, finally, McDonald’s was forced to address the rumors. Restaurant sales were falling, and there were reports that children were leaving Little League teams sponsored by McDonald’s. Eventually, Reverend John McFarland, who started the rumor, retracted it, and McDonald’s executives spoke to church groups to quell the fears. The McDonald’s rumors faded away, and no one seems to remember it anymore.