When Ramona Hazan started her vegetarian food company more than a decade ago, its name was just a happy memory she’d pulled from her childhood. “Being true to my heritage and family is very important to me,” she explains on her website. “[Its] creation came about by my family saying ‘Let’s all sit down and catch up’ and me as a little girl shouting ‘Me too! Me Too!’ so I wouldn’t be left out.”
Yeah. A decade-plus ago, Me Too’s meaning was significantly less complicated—and significantly less important. But now that “Me Too” has gone from a Twitter hashtag, to a worldwide movement for sexual assault survivors, to being named TIME’s 2017 Person of the Year, it’s perhaps not the best way to sell mashed chickpeas.
Although Hazan’s hummus, falafel, and other vegan, gluten-free products have long been available in some of Britain’s biggest supermarket chains, her sales are down—and she thinks it’s because of those two words on the label. “We haven’t got a definitive answer on this, but we are 90% sure that our name is not something anyone wants to put on the shelf,” she told The Guardian.
She initially considered trying to connect her plastic containers of hummus with the then-nascent social movement, but decided that may not be the best approach. “I thought, what happens if we really jump into this and use it as a marketing tool,” she admitted. “We’re a female-owned business: ‘MeToo! For #MeToo’ [...] But we didn’t want to benefit our business on the back of other people’s suffering.”
So now that Me Too’s meanings and associations have perhaps been permanently changed, Hazan has decided that it’s time to put some different words on her own labels. She’s not sure what that name will be, but says that it will be “something more straightforward.” (MUNCHIES has reached out to Hazan for comment).
Earlier this week, an Australian fish and chips shop called The Battered Wife announced that it would be closing after several months of controversy. Carolyn Kerr said that she had been harrassed by members of an organization that advocates for domestic violence survivors, and that “abusive witch hunt” contributed to her decision to close the shop.
“There is [sic] a lot of beautiful, intelligent women out there in really bad situations and to assume that I was making light of the subject, that I was promoting it,” Kerr said. “[The name is] my own little way to put my personal stamp on what shouldn’t be and make people talk about it, make people think about it and do for the community what I can do to assist this.”
As for Hazan and her hummus, if only she’d said something different as a kid. ”GIMME THAT” would still be OK.