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Party City Pulls Ad After Outrage From the Gluten-Free Community

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Party City has apologized after people in the gluten-free community called one of its commercials offensive.

The commercial, which has been taken down from all video-sharing platforms and the Party City website, was for an inflatable sports stadium that acts as a snack serving tray. The Food Network’s Sunny Anderson created the product.

In the commercial, two women stand around a table featuring the snack stadium, amid decorations and food for a football-themed party. The women comment how great the food looks.

“What is that?” asks the first woman, gesturing to a small table off to the side with crackers on a plate.

“Those are some gluten-free options,” says the second woman.

“Do we even know people that are like that?” asks the first woman.

“Tina?” says the second woman.

“Oh gross, yeah,” says the first woman.

Here’s a video of the commercial:

Saw this commercial on TV this morning. I'm shocked they aired it. In it, they basically call people with Celiac Disease and gluten allergies "gross". Substitute gluten allergy with any other disease or disability – then you'll see how insensitive this ad is. I have patients, friends and family who suffer greatly with this disease. Share it, spread the news, so Party City realizes their poor error in judgement!

Posted by Gregory Bader on Monday, January 22, 2018

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease (diagnosable through a blood test and biopsy) in which gluten causes inflammation and damage to the small intestine, so the main treatment is a gluten-free diet. Those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity experience similar symptoms to celiac disease but don’t test positive for celiac disease. The commercial drew criticism from the celiac and gluten-free communities, with viewers taking to social media to express outrage.

A few spoke out and said they weren’t offended by the ad.

On Monday, Party City issued a statement apologizing for the commercial and saying they would be making a donation in support of celiac disease research.

Party City values its customers above all else, and we take your feedback extremely seriously. We recognize that we made an error in judgment by running the recent Big Game commercial, which was insensitive to people with food allergies. We have removed the commercial from our website and all other channels, and sincerely apologize for any offense this may have caused. We’d also like to clarify that Sunny Anderson was not involved in the creation of this commercial in any way, and we apologize for any offense it has caused with her audience and fans. We will also be reviewing our internal vetting process on all advertising content to avoid any future issues. In addition, Party City will be making a donation in support of Celiac Disease research.

An author with celiac disease who goes by Gluten Dude shared a blog about the commercial and why it offended him, and told The Mighty he doesn’t give Party City a pass after their apology. In the wake of the commercial, he said he hopes people know they should leave the gluten-free community alone and remember what gluten-free people eat has no effect on them whatsoever.

He told The Mighty:

This has been happening to our community for years from movies to TV shows to late night comedy. We’ve been a target of ridicule simply for having an autoimmune disease where the only treatment (no cure) is a strict 100 percent gluten-free diet for life. It sucks. And please, please think about children getting bullied. Any time something like this happens, I hear from tons of parents whose children have celiac disease. It ain’t cool.

Lead photo by Baltimore GlutenFree Twitter page

Originally published: January 23, 2018
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