Eleanor Margolis: sapphic cynic at large

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Homophobic pasta and Gay Pride Oreos

The definitive list of foodie friends and foes of the gays.

New Statesman
Maccy D's is one of the gay foodie foes. Image: Getty

Last week, homophobic pasta became a thing. The spaghetti mogul Guido Barilla, announced in an interview that he’d never use a gay couple in an ad, and that if the gays had a problem with this, they should switch to another pasta brand. After calls to boycott Barilla, combined with rightful internet outrage, Mr. Barilla came out with a slightly dubious video apology. Meanwhile, Barilla’s number one competitor, Bertolli, released an ad featuring an anthropomorphic lesbian farfalle couple with a penne baby. But the 2013 Gay Pasta Wars aren’t the first queer-themed food fight. Here’s a guide to the foodie friends and foes of the gays.

Foes:

Chick-fil-A

In 2011, the Atlanta-based chicken joints were found to be pumping millions of dollars into everything from traditional marriage campaigns to Christian groups offering gay conversion therapy. The LGBT community responded with protests and kiss-ins aplenty. Yet Chick-fil-A stood their bigoted ground and remain bastards to this day. 

McDonalds

Earlier this month, staff at a UK McDonalds threatened to kick out two teenage boys who staged a romantic gay dinner date at the restaurant. And back in June, a lesbian couple were attacked in a Philadelphia Maccy D’s when they were discovered having sex in a toilet cubicle. In all fairness, the violence came from other customers rather than staff (the manager simply asked them to leave). You can’t blame the amorous twosome for getting handsy in one of those cubicles though; the UV lights they install to prevent junkies from shooting up always put me in the mood. 

Guy Fieri

2011 was a big year for homophobic nosh. While the Chicken Wars raged, American restaurateur and junk food behemoth, Guy Fieri, was reported to have done a great big acid reflux burp of gay hate. A former producer of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” (Fieri’s TV programme) told a Minneapolis newspaper that the star had said, amongst other slurs, that gay people “weird him out”. While homophobes come in all shapes and sizes, if I had to describe what the average one looks like, I’d probably come up with something like this. Incidentally, according to this eviscerating New York Times review, you should probably steer clear of Fieri’s Times Square restaurant no matter what your sexuality.

Flora

The Unilever-owned margarine brand was recently slated for an advert that likened a son coming out as gay to a bullet in the heart. Although Unilever withdrew the South African ad immediately and issued a public apology, you still have to wonder why it happened in the first place. Then again, I’m not sure whether I was more shocked by Flora’s flagrant homophobia or the fact that anyone has eaten margarine since about 1992.  

Friends:

Oreo

Last year’s rainbow layer Gay Pride Oreo quickly achieved meme status. The Kraft-produced cookie became an instant LGBT ally when the company revealed the picture to millions of fans on their Facebook page. I can’t say I’ve ever taken gay friendly credentials into consideration when deciding what to dunk in my tea. Then again, I’m all for biscuits coming out (I’m looking at you, Custard Cream).

KFC

Chick-fil-A competitor, KFC responded to their rival’s homophobia by buddying up to queers, big time. The archetypal old-fashioned Southern gentleman, you probably wouldn’t have caught Colonel Sanders downing something fruity in a gay bar during his lifetime. So, good on KFC for making their, uhh, spiritual figurehead a posthumous friend o’gays. Funny or Die produced a parody video, starring John Goodman as Colonel Sanders, called “KFC Loves Gays”. Although the video wasn’t made by KFC directly, it’s rumoured that they had something to do with it. Plus, signs like this confirmed that KFC was taking a pro-gay stance.

Ben & Jerry’s

In 2009, the Vermont-based company renamed their “Chubby Hubby” ice cream “Hubby Hubby”, in support of gay marriage. Last year, the ice cream giants reinforced their pro-equal marriage position when they released a limited edition ice cream flavour called “Apple-y Ever After”, with two bridegrooms depicted on the tub. Although Ben and Jerry both seem to have forgotten that lesbians exist (either that or we just don’t look good on tubs) it’s still nice that I can dig my way through a pint of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough without worrying about funding homophobes.

Absolut Vodka

OK, unless you happen to be Patsy from Ab Fab, vodka isn’t food. But Absolut deserves a mention here for being one of the first ever companies to appeal openly to gays. In 2011, Absolut celebrated 30 years of marketing to gay consumers. The Swedish vodka’s unashamedly camp ad campaigns began in the 80s and are still going strong. Yay for Absolut. Let’s get drunk.