Barilla: ‘Gays can eat someone else’s pasta’
By Bruce Golding and Post Wires
His company still makes fusilli and elbows, but the head of Barilla has made it clear he prefers his pasta straight.
Guido Barilla sparked international outrage when he said he’d never feature a gay couple in ads for his firm’s foodstuffs — adding that if homosexuals don’t like it, they can buy another brand.
“I would never do [a commercial] with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect, but because we don’t agree with them,” the company chairman told Italian radio Wednesday evening.
“Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role,” Barilla, 55, said, adding that if gays “like our pasta and our advertising, they’ll eat our pasta. If they don’t like it, then they will not eat it and they will eat another brand.”
Anger at the remarks boiled over Thursday, with gay-rights activists announcing a boycott of the world’s largest pasta maker.
Aurelio Mancuso, head of Italy’s Equality Italia group, said: “We accept the invitation from the Barilla owner to not eat his pasta.”
Rich Ferraro of GLAAD said his mom, Linda, had emptied her cupboard of the company’s products.
“I was raised on Barilla,” Ferraro said. “My mom told me that this morning she looked in her cabinets and they were still filled with Barilla pasta, and after I told her what Mr. Barilla said, she said she was going to be dumping out all those boxes of pasta and switching brands.”
Even Mayor Thomas Freeman, of upstate Avon — where Barilla operates one of two US plants — said he “totally” disagreed with the remarks.
“I feel sorry for Mr. Barilla that that’s what he feels,” Freeman said.
But the two-term Democrat said he hoped anger at the company didn’t damage sales too much, noting that the Avon plant had brought 140 jobs to the village of 3,700.
“Barilla makes a very wonderful product. They are on all our shelves here,” Freeman said.
At Mario Batali’s Eataly Italian food mall in the Flatiron District, shoppers slammed Guido Barilla’s remarks as “inappropriate” and “harsh.”
“I actually sent my roommate an e-mail saying it’s a fine family tradition not to buy Barilla, so this strengthens that,” said Cassandra Evanisko, 26 of Brooklyn.
John Rhymes, 28, of Brooklyn, said he never buys Barilla because “it tastes like chalk.”
“Being human beings, where we all have to get along, we should just be tolerant,” he added.
Guido Barilla issued a statement saying he was sorry for hurting anyone’s “sensitivity” but insisted that traditional families “have always been identified with our brand.”
He also re-iterated his support for gay marriage, which is illegal in Italy, although he is against gay adoptions.
The controversy trended on Twitter, where Alessandro Zan, a gay member of the Italian parliament, tweeted: “You can’t mess around with consumers, including gay ones.”
Other users blasted Barilla in multiple languages, labeling the brand “hate pasta” and calling Guido Barilla “horrendously sexist and homophobic.”
“Thanks Barilla, another reason to buy quinoa pasta instead of your white flour poison!” tweeted Tif Lowder of Chicago.