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Barilla Pasta King Makes Anti-Gay Comment, Sparks Boycott

Pasta king Guido Barilla might be in as much hot water as his pasta is after telling an Italian radio station that his company would never feature a gay couple an any Barilla advertising campaign.

According to Reuters, the chairman of Barilla told Italy's Radio 24, "I would never do (a commercial) with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect but because we don't agree with them. Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role." Barilla was responding to a direct question about whether he would feature a gay family in a Barilla commercial.

In the interview, Barilla also opposed gay parents adopting children, but was OK with gay marriage. The 55 year-old fourth generation pasta baron also said, "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."

Aurelio Mancuso, chairman of Equality Italia, said that the comments were an "offensive provocation" and is "accepting the invitation of the owner of Barilla not to eat his pasta, re-launched with a call for a boycott of all its products." Mancuso has taken to social media to share his outrage, asking people to use the hashtag #boicottabarilla and #boycottbarilla.

In what was meant as an "apology" of sorts, Guido Barilla issued a statement on the company's Facebook page yesterday (auto translated) :

"With reference to my statements made yesterday, I apologize if my words have led to misunderstandings or controversy.

"For clarity I would like to point out that I have the deepest respect for any person, without distinction. I have the utmost respect for homosexuals and for freedom of expression to anyone. I also said and repeat that [I] respect marriages between persons of the same sex. Barilla in its advertising has always chosen to represent the family because this is a symbol of welcome...for all."

Barilla US then issued the following statement:

At Barilla, we consider it our mission to treat our consumers and partners as our neighbors - with love and respect - and to deliver the very best products possible. We take this responsibility seriously and consider it a core part of who we are as a family-owned company. While we can't undo recent remarks, we can apologize. To all of our friends, family, employees, and partners that we have hurt or offended, we are deeply sorry.

Meanwhile, we found what could be Barilla's public relations answer to the potential firestorm -- this clever "unofficial" video that features a mock commercial where same-sex couples romance each other then eat pasta:

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times, covering the restaurant and bar scene in South Florida. She has been featured on Cooking Channel’s Eat Street and Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. Doss won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature on what it’s like to wait tables. In a previous life, she appeared off-Broadway and shook many a cocktail as a bartender at venues in South Florida and New York City. When she’s not writing, you can find Doss running some marathon then celebrating at the nearest watering hole.
Contact: Laine Doss

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