Homophobic pasta and Gay Pride Oreos

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

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.

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

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist, whose "Lez Miserable" column appears weekly on the New Statesman website.

Photo: Getty Images
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There are risks as well as opportunities ahead for George Osborne

The Chancellor is in a tight spot, but expect his political wiles to be on full display, says Spencer Thompson.

The most significant fiscal event of this parliament will take place in late November, when the Chancellor presents the spending review setting out his plans for funding government departments over the next four years. This week, across Whitehall and up and down the country, ministers, lobbyists, advocacy groups and town halls are busily finalising their pitches ahead of Friday’s deadline for submissions to the review

It is difficult to overstate the challenge faced by the Chancellor. Under his current spending forecast and planned protections for the NHS, schools, defence and international aid spending, other areas of government will need to be cut by 16.4 per cent in real terms between 2015/16 and 2019/20. Focusing on services spending outside of protected areas, the cumulative cut will reach 26.5 per cent. Despite this, the Chancellor nonetheless has significant room for manoeuvre.

Firstly, under plans unveiled at the budget, the government intends to expand capital investment significantly in both 2018-19 and 2019-20. Over the last parliament capital spending was cut by around a quarter, but between now and 2019-20 it will grow by almost 20 per cent. How this growth in spending should be distributed across departments and between investment projects should be at the heart of the spending review.

In a paper published on Monday, we highlighted three urgent priorities for any additional capital spending: re-balancing transport investment away from London and the greater South East towards the North of England, a £2bn per year boost in public spending on housebuilding, and £1bn of extra investment per year in energy efficiency improvements for fuel-poor households.

Secondly, despite the tough fiscal environment, the Chancellor has the scope to fund a range of areas of policy in dire need of extra resources. These include social care, where rising costs at a time of falling resources are set to generate a severe funding squeeze for local government, 16-19 education, where many 6th-form and FE colleges are at risk of great financial difficulty, and funding a guaranteed paid job for young people in long-term unemployment. Our paper suggests a range of options for how to put these and other areas of policy on a sustainable funding footing.

There is a political angle to this as well. The Conservatives are keen to be seen as a party representing all working people, as shown by the "blue-collar Conservatism" agenda. In addition, the spending review offers the Conservative party the opportunity to return to ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ as a going concern.  If they are truly serious about being seen in this light, this should be reflected in a social investment agenda pursued through the spending review that promotes employment and secures a future for public services outside the NHS and schools.

This will come at a cost, however. In our paper, we show how the Chancellor could fund our package of proposed policies without increasing the pain on other areas of government, while remaining consistent with the government’s fiscal rules that require him to reach a surplus on overall government borrowing by 2019-20. We do not agree that the Government needs to reach a surplus in that year. But given this target wont be scrapped ahead of the spending review, we suggest that he should target a slightly lower surplus in 2019/20 of £7bn, with the deficit the year before being £2bn higher. In addition, we propose several revenue-raising measures in line with recent government tax policy that together would unlock an additional £5bn of resource for government departments.

Make no mistake, this will be a tough settlement for government departments and for public services. But the Chancellor does have a range of options open as he plans the upcoming spending review. Expect his reputation as a highly political Chancellor to be on full display.

Spencer Thompson is economic analyst at IPPR