Donald Trump sells food. No, not those ridiculous mail-order steaks he shoved into Sharper Image catalogs for a couple of months: we're talking about that increasingly long list of food and drink specials that have been named after his other, increasingly long list of controversies.
In the past few months, we've seen Trump burgers all over the world, a full cocktail menu of Trump cocktails (the Hell Toupee was a personal fave) and one weird-ass carp restaurant called Trump Fish. And even though a Bethesda, Maryland restaurant got away with a Golden Showers Burger—complete with "yellow mustard leaking down the side"—a Virginia pizzeria has learned that "Grab Her By the Pizza" might be taking things too far.
The Del Ray Pizzeria in Alexandria is facing all kinds of criticism for its smoked clam-topped pizza, because no one should have to think about Trump's comments about sexual assault while they're eating a slice.
The pizza was added to the menu last month, joining other groanworthy specialty pies like the Smokin' Hot Chick, the Asss, and "Jenny's Veg." Although the pizza seems to have been quietly rolled out during Trump's Inauguration Week—and just before the Women's March—the criticism has been loud and clear.
"The best part about the 'Grab Her by the Pizza' meal is that they make sure to highlight the extra virgin olive oil and clams, which makes it easy to laugh about the fact that 25 percent of girls (and approximately 16 percent of boys) are sexually molested in our country!" one Yelp reviewer wrote. "Now, whenever I pass a school or playground I think fondly on Del Ray Pizzeria and the existence of sexual assault."
Del Ray's owners took to Facebook to try to explain themselves and to apologise. (Actually, their first attempt at an apology—now deleted—started with "Alrighty. Everyone needs to calm down and listen for a moment.") The pizzeria said that it just wanted to try a seafood pizza and the name was actually suggested by the shop's manager, "a hard working single mother," it added.
"We had women and families in from all over telling us how much they loved it. No one complained about it or told us they were offended, so we put it with our other pizzas when we launched the new menu. Let us make this very clear: this pizza is not a joke to us. With it, we meant to show our support of women, the LGBT community, and the immigrants we know and love in our lives. We never even imagined that someone would see this as an attack on women or sexual assault victims!" Del Ray wrote. "[We] meant for it to be empowering to women and raise awareness as a conversation piece amongst our (adult) guests."
We're not exactly sure how naming a pizza to honour the President's comments about how he grabs women's genitals without their consent is supposed to "empower" women, so somebody might want to step up and explain that this thing was doomed from the start.
That said, MUNCHIES spoke with a manager at Del Ray who said that yes, the pizza was created in the spirit of the Women's March, but it was not intended to be flippant, nor a joke. (He also declined to give his full name, as he says some critics of the restaurant have gotten "aggressive" and have made threats which, regardless of how misguided a menu item might be, is NOT COOL.)
"We never take a stance toward anything in [a political] regard," he said. "This community and this area is deeply rooted in a lot of politics. We just felt that we wanted to add a pizza name and put something on our menu, nothing more."
The "It's not political!" argument is a favourite for anyone who has attempted an obvious political publicity stunt during these increasingly polarised times. (See also: the non-political Alternative Facts pizza and the non-political "Trump Wall" outside a Mexican restaurant.) But he did take issue with the idea that the pizza was named in a joking manner.
"It was not a joke. That was not the intent, to run it as a joke," he said. "A lot of the awareness that it has raised was the intended use, more than it was a joke."
OK, sure. MUNCHIES asked if the restaurant would use this spotlight—and that awareness—to do something positive, and he said, yes, maybe, at some point, possibly. "We've been approached to share the positiveness and kindness and build community," he said."We've thought about it, we're going to do it. We're just condensing our ideas into one fluid motion."
That clears it all up. Grab Her by the Pizza has since been removed from the menu.