As recent social unrest has dominoed into a series of moves to enact increased sensitivity from major brands, organizations, and cities nationwide, one of the latest ripples is a Change.org petition that wants to rename celebrity chef Guy Fieri’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio to Flavortown. As of this writing, the petition has 75,174 signatories of a hopeful goal of 150,000.
The pitch from Murfreesboro, Tennessee’s Tyler Woodbridge, the self-proclaimed “Flavortown ambassador to Tennessee,” reads: “Columbus is an amazing city, but one whose name is tarnished by the very name itself. Its namesake, Christopher Columbus, is in The Bad Place because of all his raping, slave trading, and genocide. That’s not exactly a proud legacy.”
The 32-year-old Woodbridge, who spent over seven years of his life in Columbus, told CNN that the city’s recent removal of a Christopher Columbus statue wasn’t sufficient. “Even though it’s my favorite city, I was always a bit ashamed of the name,” he told CNN.
Fieri’s love of Sriracha-blasted foodstuffs, appreciation for real-deal Mexicali, and grudging tolerance for eggs is well-documented, but fairweather acknowledgers of Fieri are likely less aware of the celebrity chef’s efforts as a philanthropist and all-around kind dude. During California’s 2018 wildfires, Fieri volunteered to feed victims displaced by the devastation, teaming up with the Salvation Army for Operation BBQ Relief. During COVID-19, Fieri has adapted his TV show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives to a “takeout edition” that bolsters restaurants trying to stay open with an elaborate video-conference set-up in which restaurateurs across the country walk him through preparing new recipes–Fieri repeatedly points viewers towards offering support to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund.
If the petition proves successful–Woodbridge admits he’s “not up to date on [the] Columbus town charter–Bud Light has promised free drinks, on them: “If the town can make it happen, Bud Light is offering free Bud Light Seltzer to all residents of Flavortown, Ohio.” Bud Light Seltzer, for the uninitiated, is “an easy-drinking hard seltzer with a hint of delicious fruit flavor.” There was no immediate response to an inquiry sent to Fieri’s camp on whether these seltzers are “so good you could eat it off a flip-flop.”
The petition will be closed and delivered to Columbus’ city hall on June 30.
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