Chick-fil-A: ‘Only a Fruitcake’ Wouldn’t Eat Here

And you thought Chick-fil-A was done with the anti-gay slip-ups.

Towleroad recently posted this picture, sent in by a Twitter follower, showing a sign at an Atlanta area Chick-fil-A claiming “Only a fruitcake wouldn’t love our party trays!”

Given the restaurant’s widely publicized track record of blatant homophobia in recent months, this understandably rubbed some people the wrong way.

But the chain claims the word choice was a harmless coincidence, according to The Advocate:

“This is an advertisement that a locally owned and operated restaurant has been using for the past five years to promote Chick-fil-A’s catering options during the holidays,” Steve Robinson, the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said in a statement to The Advocate Tuesday afternoon. “It was simply a play on words referring to the traditional holiday food, and the restaurant had no intention of offending anyone whatsoever. We regret the flier may have been taken out of context.”

Either Chick-fil-A is playing dumb about this offensive jab, or they really need a new advertising manager.

About Camille Beredjick

Camille is a twentysomething working in the LGBT nonprofit industry. She runs an LGBT news blog at gaywrites.org.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Well,  the local  Chick-fil-A that uses the anti-Fruitcake slogan has, on the very same advertisement, very clearly shown their phone number, so I guess they want us to (politely of course) call them to ask for clarification about whether this is anti-gay or not.

    It seems to read: 770-457-1679

  • Pseudonym

    Given that this is all the evidence we have, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one.

    Just because Dan Cathy is a moronic homophobe does not automatically imply that every franchisee is. I can easily see how someone could easily use the word “fruitcake” to refer to the traditional solstice foodstuff and implying that you’d have to be crazy not to like this product, without thinking of homosexual people at all.  Indeed, it seems more likely that a non-homophobe would do it, since they are precisely the sort of people who don’t think about homosexual people all the damn time.

    According to the statement, this advertisement has been used for five years. If it wasn’t for recent events, probably nobody would have detected any potential homophobic subtext, including those who came up with it in the first place.

  • http://profiles.google.com/sfjetland Serge Fjetland

    is fruitcake a homophobic slur i havnt heard before or something?

    • Question Everything

      They are often called ‘fruits’ or some variation on that, yes, including fruitcake.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruit_(slang)

      • http://profiles.google.com/sfjetland Serge Fjetland

        hmm, only “fruitcake” i had heard of was when you are accusing someone of being.. insane.

        • Question Everything

          Yeah, when I was younger, I mostly heard fruitcake as insane, too, but in the past 10 or 15 or so years, it was more implying gay.   Maybe it’s a location-based thing?

  • Arapahoe

    Fruitcake means crazy, not gay. As in “Nuttier than a fruitcake”

    • MichaelD

      Oh their not taking a pot shot at the gays it’s a pot shot at the mentally ill! Glad we cleared that up ;p

      • Pseudonym

        Don’t get me started on Crazy Eddie.

    • TiltedHorizon

      Gay used to mean lighthearted and carefree. Fag is a British colloquialism for cigarette. A ‘Faggot’ is actually a tightly bound bundle of sticks used in lighting fires. And fruitcake use to mean a cake made out of fruit, nuts and spices.

      Nothing means what is should anymore.

      • Donalbain

        I blame the shift away from proto-IndoEuropean!

  • http://twitter.com/GentleChainsaw Gentle Chainsaw

    I say much ado about nothing.  My southern parents and grandparents have always used the term “fruitcake” as a silly slur to insult someone’s intelligence (a la “nutty as a fruitcake”).  With this being an Atlanta franchisee, I say it’s innocent.

  • Nunya Bidness

    Come on people, aren’t there enough actual bigoted comments out there without having to manufacture them?

    When you conjure up faux outrage like this, you weaken the impact of legitimate outrage over legitimate slurs.

    • http://emilyhasbooks.com/ Emily Dietle

      While it may not be on the extreme end of the spectrum, given CFA’s history & GA’s notorious homophobia, this is a good find and a simple way to remind us that slurs are slippery & sneak in local shops.

      • Pseudonym

        It’s also a good reminder that not all slurs are intentional, in case you needed another.

      • http://www.suburbansweetheart.com/ Suburban Sweetheart

        So would they have to go all the way & write “Only a faggot wouldn’t love our party trays!” for you to find this legitimate, or…?

        • http://www.facebook.com/billhaines.net Bill Haines

          I boycott CFA, but really doubt the slogan was intended as a slur, especially if it’s been in use for years, and this post also reminded me of what ‘Pseudonym’ linked above.

          • Pseudonym

            Incidentally, it looks like one link, but it’s actually three links; each word is a different link to a different story with the same theme.

    • http://www.suburbansweetheart.com/ Suburban Sweetheart

      So would they have to go all the way & write “Only a faggot wouldn’t love our party trays!” for you to find this legitimate, or…?

      • Pseudonym

        I’m not Nunya Bidness, but speaking only for myself, it’s a matter of weighing up evidence. For example, if the “apology” had some sign that it was insincere or disingenuous, was a notpology, or they didn’t even apologise, then that would indicate that outrage was justified.

        FWIW, I’m not saying that it isn’t news. I’m personally glad of the reminder that the word “fruitcake” could be taken the wrong way, because it never would have occurred to me had it not been pointed out.

        That is, after all, one of the traps of privilege. You often don’t know that a word or phrase that you think is inoffensive might have an unintended meaning.

        I can totally empathise with Chick-fil-A here. And that’s something I never thought I’d hear myself say.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=700851737 Sam Kay

    I like how they shift the blame to the reader in their apology: “we regret the flier may have been taken out of context.” How about “we regret the poor word choice.”

    As for your last sentence, it sounds like this was an individual store’s sign/flier, not a chain-wide thing. Do they franchise?

    • Pseudonym

      It might just be me, but I don’t see their apology as assigning “blame” to anyone at all.

      FWIW, I do understand that it’s part of American culture that whenever anything unfortunate happens, it’s automatically assumed that somebody is to blame for it, so you “know whose ass to kick”. But not everyone thinks that way.

      • Coyotenose

         It does assign blame. It’s a typical tactic in a “notpology” to claim that the reader or listener interpreted things wrong. “I’m sorry that you misunderstood me” is not an actual apology. They’d have done better than that if they had not tried to apologize at all and had just said something like “There was no offense intended to any group from our advertising.”

  • http://emilyhasbooks.com/ Emily Dietle

    I must agree with Urban Dictionary’s first take on fruitcake : A derogatory term for a homosexual man. In Texas, ‘fruitcake’ is synonymous with gay males & insulting them; considering this is from GA, I’d assume the assumed slur here, folks.

    • Pseudonym

      According to Urban Dictionary (though I knew this already; I like Queen, so sue me) “chicken” is slang for a young gay male.

      Pretty much everything is slang for something. As Sigmund Freud pointed out, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

      • Elerena

        If that’s the phrase you want to attribute to a word choice like this, then I’d have to point out that I bet rocks and slime molds probably don’t love their party trays either.

        • Pseudonym

          True enough, but “slime mold” is not slang for someone who is crazy.

          Yes, I did check on Urban Dictionary. Knowing Urban Dictionary, somebody has already coined a slang term for it, and posted it there.

          • Elerena

            Kind of the point, really.  Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes it isn’t.

            • Pseudonym

              Quite.

              • Elerena

                Indeed.

                • Baal

                  Just so.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Harrison/23417637 Michael Harrison

         An amusing choice of reference, considering Freud said it in response to someone asking him if his smoking habit was a reflection of subconscious sexual desires.

    • Patrick Sharp

       As a lifelong Texan, I’ve never heard the term fruitcake used to describe a gay male.  Fruit, yes, but not fruitcake.  Fruitcake has always been used for someone who’s a little bonkers.  I’m quite sure it has been used that way, just because I haven’t heard it doesn’t mean it hasn’t, but I think the majority of people would associate it the other way.  Based on the context of the ad, it seems pretty clear you’re supposed to read it as “Only a crazy person wouldn’t like our party trays”.  Especially in the context of the holiday season. 

  • Seankmckenzie25

    Sounds like someone is a little too sensitive… give me a break!

  • ChristinaTrin

    Fruitcake has only ever been used to insinuate someone is crazy, in my book. I’ve heard a lot of gay slurs, and fruity of course is one of them, but fruity and fruitcake are not the same. Determining what is and what isn’t a legitimate insult is important to maintaining that… well…
    we atheists aren’t just a bunch of fruitcakes.

    • Michael

      The problem appears to be that this took place in a locale where the term more commonly means a gay man and the marketroid who signed off on it ought to have known that.

      I also have never heard the term used to mean gay, but nor have I ever been near Texas.

  • mobathome

    According to Wikipedia, “fruitcake” is or was slang for gay starting at least in the 1930s.

    Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruit_(slang)#Fruitcake

    Mind you, so was “fruit”:Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruit_(slang)#As_gay_slang

    I had heard the last in British TV shows in the 1970s, though not always as a slur.

    Though I’d never heard “fruitcake” used in the same way, either in the U.S. or in British TV shows, Wikipedia ties it to the medical persecution of gays and lesbians in mental hospitals.

  • Octoberfurst

     I have heard the word “fruitcake” used as both a term meaning that someone is crazy and I have heard it used as a anti-gay slur.  Granted it usually means the former but given Chick-Fil-A’s homophobia I’m going to bet they meant the latter.

    • Elerena

      And given that being gay was considered a mental illness for a long time, it’s not really surprising it’s been used for both, is it?

    • Pseudonym

       You say “Chick-Fil-A” as if it’s a monolithic entity, which it clearly isn’t.

      Dan Cathy is a confirmed homophobe. The people who run the local franchise which put out the advertisement five years ago probably are not.

  • Elerena

    I think they misunderstand what “taken out of context” means.  The context is that they’ve been in a huge media problem with homophobia pointed straight at them.  With that given as context, it is *entirely believable* that this was intentional.  The claim that it ISN’T is what’s utterly divorced from context.

  • https://sites.google.com/site/ferulebezelssite/ Ferule Bezel

    Did you read the text you quoted.  It was the action of a franchisee.  Secondly, people should use a proper dictionary before going to a quasi-wiki edited by twenty-somethings for definitions.  From the OED:

    fruitcake n.
     (a) a cake containing fruit;
     (b) (see quot. 1885);
     (c) slang (orig. U.S.) a crazy or eccentric person; one who is insane; also in similative phr. nutty as a fruitcake

    • Elerena

      You know, it’s possible that a quasi-wiki edited by twenty-somethings is far, far more up to date on actual slang than a “real” dictionary.  Tell me, what does the OED say about “Santorum”?

      • Elerena

        In addition to which, as someone that spent six years of my life *being called* a fruitcake (among various other things) specifically to imply that I was gay, I’d say you can take your ‘proper’ definition and do something impolite with it.

        • Coyotenose

           Well that was asinine and misdirected.

      • Coyotenose

         It’s possible, yes. But the Urban Dictionary is loaded with definitions made up by one or two people trying to be funny. A great many of the entries are just jabs at the posters’ friends or enemies.

  • http://poder5.blogspot.com Prometeo

    Where’s the homophobia there? It’s just an ad that is using reverse psychology to attract people. There is something worse than homophobia and that is paranoia and that is a psychological ailment. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/pwguitarded Perry Winters

    I think people might be reading into this a bit too much…

  • Patterrssonn

    Whether or not it was intended as a homophobic slur, considering their history I don’t think it’s a bad idea to bust their balls for a while.

    And by balls I mean erm… balls.

  • JWH

    When I hear “fruitcake,” I don’t think “gay.”  I think “crazy.”  As far as I recall, the epithet for gays wasn’t “fruitcake,” but simply “fruit.”  Am I wrong?

  • Baal

    The open question is whether or not Chic-fil-a has really reformed it’s views on LGBT or not.  As such, it’s subject to heightened scrutiny.  Were this ad from some other company and the OP was complaining, i’d think it was too much sensitivity.  But Chic-fil-a isn’t another company and they still have the same bigot in charge that they did during the dust up.  It seems negligent of their marketing department to have allowed “fruitcake”.  While not true everywhere, it is (was?  my memory has it in the 80′s)  a gay slur.

  • SimonPure

    I don’t think we atheists really need to have our offense detectors tuned to the highest sensitivity. There’s plenty of real offense to be found.

    Also, the “fruitcake” issue is really one for gay-rights groups, not atheists. While I support gay rights, I wonder how much do gay groups support atheist rights?

  • Coyotenose

    This doesn’t look like even a subconscious slur. It’s actually decent wordplay. One could make an argument that they should be more careful, but I don’t think it’s a strong one.

  • Geocatherder

    As someone with a mental illness (well-controlled with meds, but still…) I’m offended by the ad.  As someone who makes a delicious non-traditional fruitcake (none of this weird “candied” stuff) I’m doubly offended.  I’m offended enough even without the notion that it might be a gay slur in some quarters.


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