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U.K. store sells out of canned reindeer after protest

Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP - Getty Images

Santa Claus may find reindeer helpful, but others find them downright tasty.

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, made a very tasty pâté ..." That's far from the traditional version of the song, but the prospect of turning Dasher or Dancer into a snack had animal-rights activists in the U.K. seeing red. The group Vegetarians International Voice for Animals launched a campaign against upscale department store Harvey Nichols for selling cans of reindeer pâté. 

VIVA's website urges supporters to "politely complain" to the store, claiming that the process of harvesting the venison is traumatic to the animals. Admittedly, the packaging of the pâté seems designed to tweak delicate sensibilities, claiming the product is a "farm-raised relative of Rudolph" and "an indulgent Christmas treat." The pâté includes cognac and spices as well as its signature ingredients, ground meat and fat. 

In a statement, the retailer defended the its choice to stock reindeer pâté, saying, "reindeer is growing in popularity in the U.K. … The reindeer we stock is farmed in Sweden and complies to EU legislation."

At £15 for 190 grams (around $23 for 6.7 ounces), it's a pricey snack. Even so, adventurous eaters are probably out of luck; it's listed as unavailable on Amazon.com and on the website of manufacturer Edible. It's also no longer available at Harvey Nichols stores or online — not because the retailer yanked it from its inventory at activists' request, according to a spokeswoman, but because the publicity led to a spike in sales. 

"[O]ur online stock has sold out due to the publicity and demand we've received," spokeswoman Constance Cooper said via email. "It's a seasonal product and stocks are limited so we will not be restocking prior to Christmas." Until next year, foodies with a taste for the wild side will have to content themselves with Harvey Nichols' other edible oddities like green curry crickets or toasted ants.