This article originally appeared on VICE US.
It's so difficult to know how to commemorate 9/11. Whispered promises to remember the victims, and solemn reminders of our patriotism can feel woefully inadequate, but doing nothing on a day that heavy with emotion will forever feel like a tactless omission.
No one knows the challenges of those somber reflections better than Brand Twitter. Every September, social media coordinators take a break from roasting each other's batter-dipped chicken chunks to select a photo/hashtag combo that they think is appropriately reverent. If they do it right, the majority of Twitter will scroll past without being offended, and a few future customers might even be swayed by the gesture.
But every year, without fail, at least one brand gets it appallingly wrong, whether it's handheld wank-sleeve Fleshlight "[honoring] those still fighting for freedom," or a Florida Walmart trying to recreate the scene of that unspeakable tragedy by building the Twin Towers out of Coke Zero boxes. (And it's not 9/11-related, but no list of fuckups is complete without mentioning the time SpaghettiOs remembered Pearl Harbor by tweeting a picture of a cartoon noodle waving a flag and licking its own starchy face.)
This Wednesday, a lot of brands opted for a solid day of silence, which honestly felt more respectful than, like, reading that Burlington Coat Factory "will #neverforget." But that also meant that a lot more of us noticed when a Maryland pizza chain bungled its own online tribute.
According to Business Insider, on Wednesday morning, Ledo Pizza tweeted a pic of one of its signature square pizzas, which had been topped like an American flag complete with pepperoni stripes and a block of black olive 'stars.' Ledo captioned it #NeverForget, added an American flag emoji and NAILED IT, SEND TWEET.
It didn't take long for whoever runs the chain's social media account to realize that the post sucked. It was deleted and replaced with a pic of an American flag flying on the stern of a boat—but they probably should've logged out for the day, anyway. "Your recently deleted tweet might just be the most tone-deaf 9/11 'brand' tweet to ever be posted," one woman responded. "How dare you trivialize our nation's most impactful tragedy in recent memory with a goddamn pizza flag. Save it for 4th of July, you tactless clods." (Don't give them any ideas!)
Although Ledo did have some supporters—the kind that blamed 'radical SJWs' and snowflakes for the controversy—it apologized in a three-tweet thread and posted a statement on its website. "This morning, Ledo Pizza posted a photo of a pizza decorated as a flag of the United States of America on Twitter. As you may know, we regularly use this photo to show our Patriotism and Love for our country during holidays and remembrances," the company wrote. "While most fans are used to seeing this photo and share our Patriotism, a few Twitter users took offense to this imagery and for this we are sincerely sorry. Our Twitter post was never intended to diminish the gravity of September 11th and has since been removed.
"Again, if you are familiar with Ledo Pizza, you know that we would never intentionally do anything to dishonor our flag and we hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive us for this misstep."
We get it. It's hard to know what to say—but it's also an occasion when it's OK to opt for sincere personal reflection instead of obligatory hashtags from a brand. Do as that person suggested and 'save that for the 4th of July.'