Food by VICE

Italian Cheesemakers Sue an American Soap Opera for Insulting Their Cheese

Can you disparage a cheese? The Grana Padano Consortium of Italy certainly thinks you can. That’s why they’re suing America’s longest-running soap opera.

by Alex Swerdloff
May 25 2016, 7:00pm

Photo via Flickr user Madame Fromage1

Can you disparage a cheese? The Grana Padano Consortium of Italy certainly thinks you can. That's why they're suing America's longest-running soap opera. Their cheese was insulted on a recent episode, they claim.

In today's top entry to the you-can't-make-this-shit-up list, the Italian cheese manufacturers are suing The Bold and the Beautiful, CBS's warhorse of a daytime drama, which has been on television since 1987. Sure, the show is known for its over-the-top storylines, like the time Ridge learned his daughter, Bridget, was really his sister, only to find out later that that wasn't the case—and then go on to have an affair with his former-daughter-slash-sister. No one gave a fuck about that.

But, when Charlie Webber, a security guard played by Dick Christie, had the audacity to claim that Grana Padano was inferior to Parmigiano Reggiano? That resulted in a lawsuit, filed recently, according to The Local.

Here's what happened: In a scene that aired last year, Charlie was cooking a meal when—horror of horrors—he realized he had picked up Grana Padano instead of the king of cheeses, Parmigiano Reggiano. He "humorously berates himself for having bought the wrong cheese and entirely abandons his cookery project," according to Corriere della Sera.

Grana Padano is a pretty damn good cheese, but who in the hell could be mad at Charlie for holding out for the best, even on a security guard's salary?

The Grana Padano Consortium, however, was none too pleased with the show, which is seen in 100 countries by 300 million to 500 million viewers per day. "The problem is that Grana Padano, much like The Bold and the Beautiful, is a global product and the negative message could easily have reached hundreds of millions of people," Stafano Berni, the director of the Grana Padano consortium said.

What to do? Sue, of course. "The screenwriting breaks US comparative advertising laws due to the disparaging tone and attitude the actor shows towards our product," Berni told Corriere.

We're not sure what the "comparative advertising laws" in this country are, but Berni feels strongly that the "especially unpleasant" reference should be righted. A spokeswoman for the cheese group told the International Business Times that they were seeking counsel in the US and had not yet quantified the commercial loss they suffered because of the soap opera slur, although the plan is to donate part of any compensation to charity.

One little question for the cheesemakers: Shouldn't you have allowed the year-old episode—which, like all soap opera episodes will never be aired again—to die a natural death, instead of resurrecting it in a lawsuit that will be reported on by dozens of news outlets who, like us, simply can't ignore the bait of a lawsuit by cheesemakers against a soap opera for disparagement?

Just wondering.

protected designation of origin
Grana Padano
Grana Padano Consortium
The Bold and the Beautiful