From curry gate to Hawaii criticism
New sensitivity to food names

Only recently it was about the sausage, the curry sausage, which should be banned in some places because it is “unhealthy”. But it’s also about chocolate kisses, paprika sauce, Hawaiian pizza. More and more dishes and their names are being questioned. Hardly anything indignant some people like food names. Why is that?

There is little that gets the Internet going as much as alleged “woke madness” that hits cherished dishes. “Woke” is used to describe people who claim an “awakened” awareness of justice, climate protection, discriminatory language or even racism. That showed once again the excitement about a future vegetarian restaurant at VW in Wolfsburg. In the course of the so-called “Currywurst Gate”, in which former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder also interfered when he protested against vegetarian food for “workers” (#RettetDieCurrywurst), there was also fundamental criticism of the term “curry”. Is the word that is often used an abbreviation of Asian cuisine? Is the term even racist?

When it comes to nutrition, it is well known that the fun has stopped for a long time. A rift has long been running through society that often causes heated debates about food. It is about climate protection and meat consumption or racist chocolate labels. Most recently, a little curry debate spilled over to Germany with a delay. In summary: The Californian food blogger Chaheti Bansal has been criticized for having raised the issue months ago that all sorts of things are called “curry” in the West, although in India, for example, regional specialties change every 100 kilometers and the name curry probably refers to colonial masters -Convenience go back. In debates of this kind, the assertion quickly arises that activists wanted to ban everything and that the accusation of racism is being handled too carelessly.

Racism in connection with food was known in Germany primarily from the well-known chocolate kisses and their formerly common name as well as from a schnitzel type and sauces of the same name. We remember: in 2020 brands such as Knorr, Homann and Bautz’ner announced that they would rename their so-called Z sauces, for example into “Hungarian style paprika sauce”.

The Central Council of German Sinti and Roma welcomed this step. The term “Gypsies” is an old collective term for ethnic groups, “a foreign term superimposed by clichés of the majority society, which is rejected as discriminatory by most members of the minority”. He was always negative and associated with exclusion. The admiring hit “Gypsy Boy” from 1967 could be played with benevolence, but many see it as romanticization and kitsch from above.

“Pizza Hawaii” not explicitly racist, but “colonial stereotype”

While the Wiener Schnitzel actually comes from Vienna and Peking ducks have a real Chinese history of origin, when questioning other dishes and their names, it is primarily about the aspect that they are unreflected foreign names. More and more dishes and products seem to come into focus and are problematized. And many people then feel threatened or even robbed of their childhood memories.

For example, the name “Pizza Hawaii” for a baked flatbread with boiled ham and pineapple is questioned. The name is associated with a “history of colonialism and appropriation,” according to the PoC / Migrantifa group. The name is supposed to give an exotic touch, but has nothing to do with Hawaiian cuisine or culture. The islands of Hawaii had been annexed by the United States by war. The population was exploited by white settlers for growing pineapples. “Pizza Hawaii” is not explicitly racist, but shows “many colonial stereotypes”. So it might be better to say “pizza with pineapple”.

Is pizza generally fascist?

Speaking of pizza: the classic pizza with tomato, mozzarella and basil is named after the former Italian Queen Margarethe. She lived from 1851 to 1926 and was anti-parliamentary. She was considered a supporter of the later dictator Benito Mussolini. So is “Pizza Margherita” a fascist dish? To many such debates seem absurd and know-it-all. The health and nutritional psychologist Cristoph Klotter told the “Welt”: “Unfortunately, there is sometimes a tendency that socially better-off people literally rise above other people.” The new awareness also affects some brand names: Pepsico put an end to its brand “Aunt Jemima” (Aunt Jemima) last year. For decades, the logo of a plump black woman with a headscarf was used to advertise breakfast pancakes and syrup. “Uncle Ben’s Reis” will also soon become “Ben’s Original”. The picture of the black “uncle” who advertised the rice should disappear. Like “Aunt Jemima”, “Uncle Ben” is seen as a degrading slave cliché.

“We understood the injustices associated with the name and face of the brand and decided to change that,” said a spokeswoman for Mars Food in Germany. After the decision to renew the global brand, they wanted to make sure that they were doing everything right. There are therefore different timetables in the countries. In Germany, however, the time has come soon.


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