Another serving of “Eat your words” is the special of the day as Guido Barilla struggles above boiling water. He joins the ranks of celebrities, politicians and sports figures when it comes to saying “Sorry.” His comments about gay families have drawn attention from the gay community and their supporters. Embracing traditional family values, the Barilla Group eats out in the dining room, while mama slaves away in the kitchen. There may be no dinner for awhile as the last batch of pasta has burned the flavors of diversity.
The Barilla Group produces many varieties of pasta and sauces, but is limited in offering jobs to gay actors. According to Barilla, gays do not seem to have the ingredients to represent the company in ads and commercials. Mr. Barilla stated that his company would not ever have a gay family appear in their ads, as the pasta maker keeps the woman of the household cooking up the next feast. The last dinner has been reheated and modified, as The Barilla Group eats out of its own dish of humble pie. Apologies are designed to make things better, but that remains to be seen as the backlash of the mess is cleaned up.
Their idea of family is the stereotypical Italian woman running the kitchen like a master chef. Barilla seems to forget that many of the world’s greatest cooks and chefs are gay men, have gay friends, serve gays and actually eat pasta. Several other companies have learned their lesson in recent years and are catching up with the times of same-sex marriage. Many European nations have advanced to making gay marriage legal, as well. The Barilla Group needs to learn some new recipes for success if they are to keep a place on the menu. The grocery shelves are lined with their brand, which is usually double the cost of the store brand. Up unto now, Barilla has been a trusted name people around the world have enjoyed. Saying one thing, then apologizing the next day is confusing. Serving up an individual response to keep everyone happy may demote the Barilla Group to short order cooks.
One of their latest products is the gluten-free pasta. It is produced in such a way as to remove the sticky, glue like compound, gluten, from the grain that is used to make pasta. Gluten in the digestive system can cause many health issues including inflammation and pain. The gluten-free diet is recommended for many patients of Celiac disease and the food industry has rushed to fulfill alternatives. Barilla has taken a step away from traditional pasta by catering to the market of gluten-free diets. The products were surely designed to generate profits for the company, but their old ideas may slow business down. They claim that their gluten-free noodles taste like real pasta, so does that mean it is not real pasta? Why produce a fake product just to gain sales and at the same time deny real people a chance to eat it? Mr. Barilla previously recommended that gays could find a different source of pasta.
Companies, both large and small are in the business of goods and services and can not afford controversy in the public eye. Unfortunately for many, the safety net of an apology does not always appease the diverse group of customers and patrons. As the Barilla Group eats out of the people’s hands for now, their profits and respect is simmering away. They may need to be reminded that the world is like a big bowl of rainbow pasta, delicious in any shape and size.
Written by: Roanne H. FitzGibbon