Dear Marketing Person: You're Not Clever…You're Simply Ignorant

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helping celiacs

Dude note: To help celebrate and promote Celiac Awareness Month, I will be writing 30 blog posts over 30 consecutive days (weekends excluded) with the theme “30 Days of Helping 30 Celiacs”. Each post will be aimed toward helping one specific person or group of people. If you or someone you know needs help, guidance, advice or a shoulder to cry on, please contact me and I will do what I can to help. On the 31st day, you’re on your own. Totally kidding.

Today’s 30 for 30 blog post is for: All marketing people who think they’re being clever by using gluten-free in their ad campaigns.

There have been a string of ad campaigns using gluten-free as a joke. Because…you know…disease is always funny. The latest one is Ford, who is promoting their Fiesta as “Great MPG AND gluten-free”. Yeah…I don’t get it either.

Anyway, I’m here to help. That’s what my 30for30 campaign is all about…to help people. So here is an open letter to all marketing people. Please take my advice to heart so you can stop pissing off 7% of your audience.

You’re welcome.


Dear Marketing Person,

I know you’ve got it tough. You’re under loads of pressure to come up with the next “Where’s the beef?” or “Just do it”. I empathize with your plight.

But the next time somebody in your creative meeting suggests you use the term “gluten-free” as part of your ad campaign, please think twice before saying yes.

Did you know that almost 1% of the population has celiac disease? Gluten absolutely destroys their bodies.

Did you know another estimated 6% suffers from gluten sensitivity and gluten wreaks havoc on them too?

So right there, that’s 7% of your audience that you are offending. Since when is that effective marketing?

Perhaps you’re thinking we need to lighten up…that it’s just a joke.

Well let me share a few emails I received recently and you tell me if it’s still funny.

“I’m having trouble getting my husband to understand just how much my celiac disease affects my life. He believes that I just make up symptoms to get out of going places with him such as parties, friends’ homes, or simply out to dinner. Even though I have been gluten free for five years now I still experience symptoms on a regular basis. He has no idea how bad it stinks to have to schedule your day around trips to the bathroom and debilitating stomach pain. I am starting to resent him…a lot. Any ideas on how I can make him understand that I am in real pain and this is a real disease?”

Now why would the husband not give full credence to her celiac disease? Perhaps it’s simply because he’s a jerk wad. But perhaps it’s because of ad campaigns like yours that perpetuate the gluten-free fad diet.

Here’s another email…

“I am newly diagnosed (1 month) with celiac disease. I ran into a person who made me feel like this gluten-free thing is a fad or not serious. I felt like I had to justify the legitimacy and seriousness of it.”

Can you imagine having to justify the legitimacy of an autoimmune disease? It sucks. And you are making it suckier.

And someone just this morning posted the following on my Facebook page:

“I just spoke with a gentleman who is upper level management of one of the biggest agricultural seed companies in the world. He told me that he doesnt believe celiac disease is a real disease. In fact he believes that those of us following a wheat free diet are in a cult.”

A cult. Now where would he get that idea from?

And let’s finish off with one more email…

“I’m 13 years old and I was diagnosed with celiac a little under 2 years ago. I’ve never fully recovered despite being strictly GF and so many things are just crashing down on me. I just want to be freaking normal. A normal teen with a normal life.”

Being a celiac is tough enough. When you’re not taken seriously, it makes it that much worse.

So please…help this 13 year old girl and help us all. Leave gluten-free out of your ad campaigns now and forever.

Many thanks.

Gluten Dude

P.S. This was just sent to me. It was in the New Yorker magazine. Yep…that’s us…annoying people trying to stay alive. Silly us.

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91 thoughts on “Dear Marketing Person: You're Not Clever…You're Simply Ignorant”

  1. Dude, this, this is an awesome post.

    (And my next car was going to be a Ford–it’s almost time to replace the lovely, ancient, incredibly technically complex 2001 Prius with something that has fewer parts.)

    Guess I’ll be getting a Mazda instead.

  2. GDude

    A very earnest plea requesting kind consideration for fellow human beings suffering from a terrible far reaching disease they don’t fully understand themselves, much less their doctors and the healthcare industry.

    It’s one thing to make fun of crusty old curmudgeons like me, but to beat up on wives and 13 yr old girls is beyond defensible.

    If I was FORD, I would pull that ad immediately. One of my old college roommates is general manager of a successful FORD dealership, I’ll send a link to him and see if we can help.

    Hopefully your continuing education mission will keep on making a difference.

      1. Dude

        Done – request sent.

        Our fellow gluten free community members and those who want to help us can also find their local FORD dealers’ websites and send an email. Our local dealership had an email link at the top of the home page allowing anyone to send an email directly to that delearship.

        I respectfully requested that my buddies may want to help be part of the solution rather than allowing FORD to contribute to the ignorance by trivializing the havoc gluten wreaks on human bodies. I included a link to your blog post. I also included a brief sentence how gluten has severely affected our family.

      2. By leaving an email on the delearship website, I immediately received a reply email, which reads in part:

        “We prefer for all of our communications with you to be personalized and responsive to your requests, but we do send this automatic response out to let you know that your request has been received. We will respond within the next 1 business hour with the information you have requested.”

        Let’s see what happens.

  3. Gluten free jokes are SO SO old now. Even if one believes it’s a fad (which, for us, we know it isn’t). Why not say “fat free!” or” “carb free”! or “Nicotine free”!. I think sometimes people live under rocks if they do not see the legitimacy of celiac disease. I work with a woman who’s best friend AND best friends sister have celiac. A guy at work, his dad has it. A woman that used to work with me has celiac disease. Another woman I worked with, her dad has it. A very good friend of mine, his mom ultimately died from it. I work in a company of 20 people and look how far the tentacles of celiac have spread. A close family friend was diagnosed years ago when he just started wasting away and almost died. Yup. Celiac. He must have been in his 70’s. I think the 1% of the population has it may be crap and that it is way, way higher. I am one degree or less of separation for at least 7 (8 counting myself) celiacs. EVERY SINGLE ONE was an adult when diagnosed. Not freaking funny anymore folks.

      1. I hate to say it, but that is SO 2 years ago. Most people find it tired now. But the misconceptions persist. I work with a guy who is going “gluten free” to lose weight and is replacing it with GF pasta, bread, etc. Not to mention still eating prepared soups, rice with soy sauce etc. Unfortunately, I let him have it, my filters were down that particular day. I think he thought he had an ally but instead I turned into an unstable person that people circle cautiously around. TO top it off, we JUST bought a Fiesta.

          1. Gloria, the problem is, there are more of them than us so the rest of the uninformed masses conflate us with them and we look like we’re crying wolf. Nothing in this NYer strip conveys this subtlety.

  4. Thanks for writing this!!! I have a little 6 year old girl who got diagnosed at 4 and she still have tummy troubles even though she’s
    Gluten free. My dad and I both had negative blood work for celiac but when listen free because we had a lot of symtoms of an intolerance and we are feeling a lot better.

    I’m hoping that as my daughter grows people will be more understanding of the seriousness of this!

    1. This is exactly why I wrote an angry wall of text on some doctor’s website who was claiming that gluten sensitive people were ruining everyone’s credibility (ie, true Celiacs). “True” Celiacs had some kind of luck that I didn’t have: a doctor who looked beyond depression to explain all the crap I’ve been feeling for 8 years, a prior knowledge of Celiac that made them ask their doc for a Celiac panel, enough money to go through the test, the knowledge to avoid starting a GF diet before getting tested, and not getting a false negative on their test. Anyone who doesn’t fulfill one of these criteria may never get diagnosed and thus pass off as a fake. The truth is, if we feel better off gluten, whose business is it anyway?


  5. I saw the cartoon in the New Yorker last week-end and my blood pressure started going up. But then I thought, ah, this too shall pass (un-funny as it is). Fad diets come and go (cucumbers, grapefruit and sherry (this last one dates me, I’m afraid), among others). I give this gluten-free fad (and the backlash and “humor” it has been causing) another six months. The media and marketers will move on to something else. What can we all do other than keep trying to get the message across: celiac is no joke.
    (Having said all this, I confess to getting very, very upset about a comment in the NY Times on an article entitled something along the lines of “Vegetarian and gluten-free dining options in Paris expand”, in which vegetarian and gluten were seemingly equated (and no real gf options were mentioned at all). The article itself was terrible but one the comments was worse: “celiac disease is a myth”. Unbelievable.)

    1. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone says “oh, you’re vegetarian/vegan?” or “I brought pita chips and hummus for you — I think it should be vegan, right?”

      Thanks, but…

  6. What would a cartoon look like that depicted how annoying it is for the gf person to deal with this situation?

    Every time I worry that I’m annoying my family with my diet, they remind me that it’s far easier for them than for me, since they can still go out almost anywhere, anytime and pick up a quick bite; they can have a PB sandwich as a quick and cheap brown bag lunch instead of paying $7-8 for a tiny loaf of bread; etc. So they have to wash dishes carefully, wipe down counters, and keep lots of things separate. And sometimes listen to me asking waiters questions. Big deal!

  7. One of the girls I went to high school with is yes, a waitress and she’s circulating this on Facebook

    This is all kinds of wrong. It’s pretty much saying that anyone who dares to eat out even once is not legitimately sensitive to gluten. It’s blaming all of us for making the restaurant staff work hard on sanitizing everything because we have a fake allergy and we love attention. True Celiacs and those “allergic to gluten”(yes, allergic. Not sensitive, not intolerant. Allergic as in I’m going to swell up and die from asphyxia) will always be too scared to eat out because they know they have the real deal. So everyone who ends up in a restaurant is fake. Never mind that they’re on a business trip that ran for longer than expected and they ran out of dried apricots. Never mind that it’s their 25-year marriage anniversary and they want to share a special moment with their better half.

    I held myself back from answering to that Facebook link because the last time I did that on a forum it wasn’t pretty. However, I am fuming inside. This is right along with the New York chef who admitted putting gluten in his GF menu because he wanted to teach customers a lesson: your gluten “allergy” is fake and I’ll prove it.

    Lovely world eh?

    1. Vicky, thanks for sharing this post. I need to comment on it and hope not to offend you further. I have CD my entire life but was diagnosed finally at 50. I am 7 years post diagnosis. I am a Professionally trained and educated Chef. I teach cooking classes, focus – everything gluten-free. It is hard. I do this because I will tell you that if you have CD you will only be safe cooking in your home and unless everyone in that home is on board with making it happen you will always have the potential to be cross-contaminated. Having run a restaurant with a fully gluten-free kitchen I can tell you that even with the best intentions, and restaurants are not the place to gamble best intentions, it is terribly difficult to ensure that something is not contaminated. Ingredients are sketchy! Turnover means staff is sketchy! Not a dedicated kitchen – sketchier. So while the posting was insensitive and a tad rude I have to give credit to the individual for telling it like it is. Because it was stating the reality. And WE NEED TO KNOW THAT and make decisions based on that.

      1. Thank you Mariann for your response. Indeed, a Celiac/gluten sensitive person should ideally not eat out, and that’s the reason I have only eaten out once in the last 4 months. However, this person implies that ending up in a restaurant means we’re fake which is completely false. I understand completely that restaurant staff can only do so much, and I think most Celiacs do too and it’s why we severely limit our dining out. But we’re human too and while homemade food is good, sometimes we’re willing to/have to take a chance. We risk CC every time we go out, but so do peanut, milk and soy allergics. Gluten should not be treated any differently, which is what this server implies in their offensive letter, and it’s what made me react to it.

      2. Well, then… what about me? I’m on my third cross-country trip (by car) in the past 12 months. Yes, I carry food in the car for the actual drive, but I’m going to be in CA for almost a month this time. No real cooking facilities – what the hell am I supposed to do if I can’t take a chance on a restaurant once in a while?

        Does that make my Celiac Disease any less real? I’d love for you to tell that to my doctor. He’s thrilled that my liver is finally healing (after 20 years) since I’ve been diagnosed and gone gluten free. And no, I haven’t lost an ounce of weight. (Much to both his and my dismay.)

        Talk about being judgmental! My life is not your life. Maybe you *can* have a completely gluten free environment in which to cook all your meals. I cannot. Just the way it is. I do my best to cope, as do we all.

  8. A friend of mine posted that to Facebook. I told him that I call BS on it, as I was annoying well before I went gluten-free.

  9. I was just thinking about this when I saw a recent Easter ad, I think, for Walmart. It was some lady explaining where she seats people. It irritated me every time it was on and my husband would chuckle because he could see a change in my face. She said something like, “I seat the gluten free folks here so they aren’t tempted by my homemade rolls.” Really? Don’t you worry, lady. I’m not tempted by gluten. Ever. I’m pretty sure that the majority of people that have a reaction the way most celiac folks do, aren’t EVER tempted by gluten. Even those with NCGS likely aren’t “tempted.” We don’t do it just for the fun it. SO irritating.

    As for the guy that said something about the gluten free folks in a cult; maybe he saw someone have an exorcist-like reaction to gluten, so he thought they must be possessed by the devil, and therefore in a cult? Maybe? Sometimes that’s how I feel when I’ve been glutened.

    Ignorance is an ugly thing. I wish we could “fix” this….soon!!

    1. Rhiannon – I actually wrote Walmart – I know Walmart could give a rats “you know what” about us on how they had such a great opportunity to try and promote the fact that many carry gluten free products and that they could point out how Walmart made it easier for her to find gluten free treats to make her celiac friends feel included, instead of continuing to bully them.

      1. I completely agree with you!!! It is/was a huge missed opportunity. Just the way the lady said it, it was totally like, ‘well, I guess I HAVE to do something to cater to “those” people’ kind of attitude. I hate it! I was actually happy when Easter was over because of it.

    2. P.S. I missed your P.S. part yesterday. That’s been going around on FB now too. The New Yorker Cartoons has their own page and there’s tons of comments on that one. It’s mostly people thinking it’s funny and some that are defending “us.” I don’t think it’s one bit funny to poke fun of something like that, and then my brother in law reposted it and just said, “Ha!”. I said, “Please tell me how this is funny!?!” He has now removed it. People like him, who around it all the time and know how serious it is, should get it, right? He’s seen me at my worst…literally. After we ate out at Bucco di Beppo’s one time and, I still think, they intentionally gave me glutenous food. He saw what happened afterward because we were staying with them. We left in the middle of the night to drive all the way home because I needed my bed. And yet, still, he doesn’t get why that might be offensive?

  10. I’m generally not one for conspiracy theories and I don’t truly believe this but you know, it’s almost as if The Man (however you might want to interpret that) knows he’s responsible for infecting our community with this disease and knows exactly what he did to make it happen.

    So he decided that before we wise up to his actions and maybe end up launching some sort of class action lawsuit, he’d better get the rest of the masses to fall in line with his way of thinking. By taking a pre-emptive strike with a far-reaching propaganda campaign, completely dismissive of all the crap we go through. And presto, the court of public opinion is already on his side before we even knew what hit us.

    “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” – Mark Twain

  11. Wow, Ford, wow.

    I’m getting sick of all the ads making fun of this disease. The one that can land us celiac’s in the hospital in no time flat.

    I was diagnosed late 2013. Still trying to heal and work towards my new normal. I actually have a friend that continuously sent texts that were jokes. I know he didn’t understand what I’m going through but still. Ignorance. People should say nothing at all if they don’t understand and don’t plan on trying to. I hadn’t reached out or sent a hello in a month and I recently received a text asking if I didn’t want to have a friendship anymore because I hadn’t reached out, etc. I wrote back something along the lines of: You don’t understand. I walk up one flight of stairs and feel like I’m going to collapse. The last thing I’m worried about are texts. I had to explain, yet again, that I’m doing everything I can to take care of my children when I can and to make it through the day. Or the comments like, “Oh, I shouldn’t talk to you about oreos. You can’t even eat them. What can you eat?” When they don’t understand I’m not jealous. Why would I be so jealous over something that could kill me in the long run. I had my time with oreos in the past. I’m not spilling tears over something that could end up with a call for 911. I’ll have oreos again – when I have the energy to make gluten free ones. I’m sitting here wondering how I’ll have the energy to pick up my son from school not harping over the fact that you are throwing down a sleeve of cookies.

    I have to remind myself that if others don’t understand it is because they’ve never been close to anyone that has gone through this but don’t crucify me when I’m at my worst.

    Sorry for the rant. Just…I don’t know.

    The above, this post, and so many others remind us to be grateful for those in our lives that are patient when we are at our worst and that support us even if they don’t comprehend what we are going through.

    1. Julie,

      How did you do that???? How did you get in my head and heart and say exactly what I’m thinking and feeling!! Thank you for getting that off of my chest for me! : )
      I was diagnosed in October 2013 and still healing too.
      I don’t have kids but I did lose my mom to Celiac (she was never properly diagnosed). Other than that it sounds like we’re living the same life. Key word is LIVING!! We don’t miss the GF because we’re too busy being happy to be alive and keep it that way!
      I was diagnosed in October 2013 and still healing too. We found out who my “real” friends are in times like this.


  12. This ad really irks me. My husband’s new truck is a Ford! If this ad had come out while he was looking, I would have strongly advocated for a different brand. As for CD not being real, I have had several people (one, a dentist) tell me that so-and-so had to go on a GFD for a while, but was able to go off of it and now they are fine, so I should be able to eat gluten again, yes? Emphatically, NO! I have met several people who do not have CD, but feel so much better on a GFD. Why should it matter to anyone else what a person eats?

  13. I didn’t take the Ford ad to be a joke, and here’s why – when we were looking at cars and the Ford rep noticed that I wasn’t taking the free donuts and I had an insulin pump, he asked me if I had diabetes and celiac disease. After that. he talked about how they removed gluten containing adhesives from the car because they are not only more expensive, they are heavier and when you’re trying to get more MPG, every ounce counts, and the bonus is that people with allergies aren’t inhaling off gassing gluten and that Ford uses extremely fine air filtering technology to get better air quality in the car. I told him I didn’t think that was a real issue, but it did get me thinking about it.

    I drive by a large bakery fairly often, so the last time that my husband changed my air filter in my car, I asked him to find some of his fellow science geeks and see what was in my air filter. They found lots of pollutants and yes, traces of flour. Not enough to be harmful (their test said under 5 ppm)

    That got me thinking – maybe there is something to what the rep said. I keep hoping some other fellow science geeks will repeat the test and tell us if its a valid concern, or not.

  14. Just a note on the cartoon. I received same from a friend who is gluten sensitive but who often chooses to forgo gluten-free when we are dining because she just wants a taste of that thing. You can imagine my clench in my gut when this happens:( So, I saw the cartoon and yes it irritated me but I scrolled past and shrugged it off. Later – 3 different times later – when I went back to my f/b page there were numerous ‘Like’ hits on it. Then I was really peeved. I deleted it. It was hurtful.

  15. I met two women yesterday in my new community as I was out walking. After awhile, the subject of celiac came up ( we had been talking about local restaurants and I simply said I have to be careful, blah blah blah) and one of them said “but you HAVE to be gluten free or you’ll be very sick, right? celiac is serious”.

    Now, I am thinking, wow, she has been paying attention to something in the medical news media–and I do not mean Dr, OOze or anything on the today show — and she understands the “fad aspect”…. and I said “yes, that’s right. celiacs and people with a gluten-related medical health problem have to be careful”

    She said “well, I have a friend who thinks she’s going to lose weight by ordering things gluten free, but honestly, the rest of us all think she’s just being a pain in the ass.’ ( this was accompanied by an eye roll)

    Well, I was doing an eye roll right back and just shaking my head no and before I could continue with why this will not really work, she said “And this must make it harder for you to be taken seriously, I would think.’

    I love her already.

    1. I don’t know how people do this to lose weight! It sucks hard to skip my favorite food, I used to make super healthy muffins that would fill me right up till lunch with low calories, no fat (applesauce) and lots of fruit and veggies (zucchini, carrots). They just don’t taste good as GF and they’re much more fattening (tapioca, starches, rice flour). Now breakfast is like… rice Chex or eggs with crappy GF bread. Sometimes when I have more time I can make something healthier but gone are the days where I could make a kamut bread cashew butter-banana sandwich and go to work. I’ve gained 10 pounds since giving up gluten 4 months ago. Eventually it’ll settle in and I’ll slowly lose it back by giving up the rest of the GF substitutes but no, GF pizza will NOT make them lose weight compared to its gluten-filled counterpart. Celebrities that advertise losing weight on GF diets have personal chefs that make them yummy naturally GF and healthy food, and we don’t know what else they do to lose that weight (exercise, fasting, etc). Jeez, I wish people would stop perpetuating that stereotype… 🙁

  16. I don’t get it. There are diabetics (a serious illness) and you don’t see jokes about them. There are people who are not diabetic, but cut out sugar because they want to lose weight, or think it’s better for them, but I don’t hear stupid jokes about them! Grrrrr…..
    Does Ford laugh at bad jokes about them?????
    FORD…Found On Road Dead.

      1. I must be living under a rock, because I haven’t heard them. Of course I’m not diabetic but I do have family members who are. Sorry…I guess that was a bad example!
        Love your comeback meme!!

  17. Thank you so much for this post!

    I am a high school student and found out I had gluten sensitivity this fall. My older sister has had Celiac for over 4 years and my little sister also has gluten sensitivity, found about a month ago.
    This year, I have been giving a speech fighting gluten free as a fad diet and a joke (I love doing public speaking and I participate in competitions using this speech) and this article backs up everything I say in my speech.
    Thank you for standing up for the people who can’t eat gluten, not because of a choice, but because of our health.
    My last line of my speech: People need to learn that the gluten free lifestyle is one to be respected and NOT made fun of.

  18. After reading this article the other day, I read through the comments. The one that really stood out to me was the lady who’s son-in-law constantly switches the gluten free & gluten lids on her food because “wouldn’t it be funny if you ate gluten and didn’t get sick?”

    This is what jokes & bad advertising does to our community. No different than criminal poisoning in my opinion.

  19. Thank you for this post. I am a (very) gluten-intolerant person, I don’t know if I have Celiac or not, but I must live gluten free. I am blessed to have very supportive family and friends, and even co-workers. Because of that, I didn’t realize how demoralizing a joke like this ad could be. Thank you again for opening my eyes.

  20. Dude, So I wrote the Ford yesterday and told them how insulted I was about their advertising. I mentioned that they would not advertise the car as a non-carcinogenic, or sugar-free, or fat-free, or GMO free, so why pick on those of us who have life threatening diseases. Anyway, here is their response:

    Hello Karen,

    My name is Ron and I am from Ford`s Customer Relationship Center (CRC). I have reviewed your email regarding your feedback on advertising for the new Ford Fiesta. We appreciate the time you have taken to contact us.

    Thank you for taking the time to provide your recommendation on Ford’s advertising. We appreciate when our customers provide us with valuable feedback

    We believe one of the most effective ways to connect with customers and generate mass awareness of our products is through advertising. As a worldwide, multinational company, we recognize that our responsibilities go well beyond building better vehicles for people around the world.

    I have forwarded your comments to the Marketing Department for further review. Please accept our apology if you feel that our advertisement has reflected poorly on the company.

    Thank you for contacting Ford Motor Company.


    Customer Relationship Center
    Ford Motor Company

        1. My favorite part of that compilation of words that mean nothing is:

          “Please accept our apology if you feel that our advertisement has reflected poorly on the company.”

          1. I know! What the hell does that even mean? Such a lack of meaning and concern. All they care about is making $$$ on their cars. You can bet that if they used a racial slur or attacked an accepted disease such as cancer or diabetes or sickle cell anemia that there would be an uproar. But celiac is open season

            1. “Customer Relationship Center”
              How many hours and meetings did it take to come up with that one!?
              Did anyone see what the NY Mets did to a reporter who wrote an insulting article about the weight of a pitcher? As a team, they refused to speak to the media until this reporter left the locker room.

              It’s a little tougher to get us all together like that, but I’m pretty sure we can all agree that one or two emails to “Ron” here won’t perk his ears up. Thousands of emails, however, may make him take notice.
              Just sayin’.

            2. My contribution:
              I’m concerned about your flippant use of the term “gluten-free” in recent billboard advertising.
              To the 7% of the US population with Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, eating gluten-free is our method of survival.
              Imagine going to a restaurant and asking your server about the gluten-free options because you have celiac, only to have the server roll their eyes.
              Imagine a child being bullied because of the diet they have to follow to keep them out of the hospital. I wish I was being dramatic.
              The perpetuation of the myth that this is a fad diet is a direct result of advertising like yours.
              With all of the thought and ingenuity that you say you put into your vehicles, I’m sure you can find some lying around the factory to use in your advertising.
              Thank you for your time and understanding.”

    1. My canned Ford representative gave even less of a shit than yours. “Hello Jennifer,

      My name is Alyssa, I am from Ford`s Customer Relationship Center (CRC). I have reviewed your email commenting on a Ford advertisement. I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

      Ford Motor Company believes that one of the most effective ways to connect with customers and generate mass awareness of our products and services is through advertising. The purchase of commercial time or space is not making a judgment on a specific content but simply attempting to reach out to customers. Ford Motor Company values the opinions of our customers worldwide and will continue to place advertising on programs that reach and appeal to our diverse customer base.

      We have documented your concerns and have forwarded them to the appropriate area for future reference.

      Thank you for contacting Ford Motor Company.


      Customer Relationship Center
      Ford Motor Company ”
      I am quite the angry Ford owner.

  21. So glad you saw this picture from Sweet 27 (a local restaurant here in Baltimore) and used it for inspiration in your blog. It’s a shame that us Celiacs/gluten-intolerants continue to be the butt of jokes. Thank you for continuing to be an advocate for us, and for setting the record straight!

  22. Just found this blog. Awesome. My son is almost 5.5. It was 4 years ago this month that he was diagnosed with celiac. People who write “gluten free” off as a fad I infuriate me. After seeing what my son went through at the age of 1.5, people would “get it”. His emaciated body told the story. Thanks for getting this issue out there.

  23. Remember that this is the same company that outright misleads in its ads about the virtues of its cars. Read Consumer Reports and compare their experiences with the marketing claims. Like “eco-boost”. What a joke. This is also the same company whose SUVs rolled over when a tire goes flat. And then sicced its lawyers on the paralyzed victims. And the same company that did a cost-analysis and then decided to let people die in fiery car crashes (I’m refering to the infamous Pinto) rather than fix the problem. Buy a Ford at your own risk.

  24. As someone handling Public Relations and some marketing on behalf of a gluten-free company I take a particular interest in this post. I agree with what was said earlier, this is really just an example of lazy, fad marketing. The whole Ford “AND is better” campaign is a good idea for what they’re trying to accomplish but seeing this billboard makes me especially angry.

    I am not a diagnosed celiac but since taking on my role at a company whose mission includes education and goes far beyond selling products to gluten-free community, I have become what our founders like to call “celiac-sympathetic”. I liken it to “second-hand embarrassment”. When when of our founders was accidentally glutened from airborne gluten in our office I literally felt sick to my stomach! We made sure to do a painstaking cleanup before her next visit. I cannot disclose my affiliation but a huge part of our marketing involves education and we do everything we can to avoid perpetuating negative stereotypes. I have found the celiac-diagnosed (not celiac!) community to be incredibly welcoming, thoughtful and full of awesome characters.

    I think the diabetes analogy is especially apt. The fact that large companies still do not understand the medical legitimacy of this disease is baffling. Do they really not understand that they’re potentially offending such a large swath of the population? Their customer service response is predictably horrible as well. The real issue is you could substitute Ford for most major Fortune 500’s and have the same situation. This ignorance is not unique to Ford’s marketing brass and only gives me more fuel to further our educational mission.

    Public Relations tends to get a bad rap so I understand some of your frustration and just wanted to let you know that not all of us are evil. I always advocate that my clients act honestly and transparently.

    From a celiac-sympathetic marketer, keep up the good work.

  25. Look what I came across today….and the comments that followed are worse than the original. I can’t link directly to the post, but you can see it’s what he just posted today.

    And the comments the chef left are almost….and I mean almost….unbelievable. People are truly rotten.

    I can’t believe how insensitive other people are about this. I am actually physically sick over what people are saying.

    1. I am speechless. Why the hatred? It doesn’t affect most people, if o eat gluten free, I’m not making anyone else do it. If people feel better not eating it, who cares? This anger people have against gf folks is kind boggling.

      1. I know!!! I can’t believe people’s reaction to others being GF. I truly don’t get it. It’s not hurting them, so what gives? It’s making me very sad to see the reactions of all of these folks and he keeps getting more and more likes and comments on it by the minute. Disgusting!!

  26. I just posted something after the ignorant chef’s comments. I would love to know what restaurant he works at so I never set foot in the door

    1. Did you read what he wrote back to you??? Now I REALLY want to know where he works. I’d like to speak to the manager/owner and let them see this. I would NEVER want someone like that working for me.

      1. Just click on his name to get his FB profile, his employment info is all right there. Apparently he just started his current job less than 2 weeks ago.

        Oh, and don’t you just love the irony in how he accuses chefs at other restaurants of being “Rachael Ray clones”?

        1. I agree with you, John. BUT, look at how many people follow this idiot!! The reason I saw it is because my brother in law and a friend both “liked” the post, so it came up in my feed. There’s already over 1,000 people that like the post and that’s within the hour. I am so sad that there is this much ignorance in the world. I just don’t get why it bothers SO many people to the point where they actually post things like this.

          1. I think you’re mixing up the owner of the FB account (Maddox) who put up the OP (whose comments were objectionable enough) and the chef who responded to it (doubly bad) with the comments to which Karen replied (the chef is probably among Maddox’s followers).

            1. Nope. I’m not. I understand they are not one in the same. I think it’s offensive that this idiot, who has over 100,000 followers, even posted this. I realize the chef is a different person, and is an even bigger idiot.

            2. My suggestion is to just let it go…and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t let a whole lot go. Guys like that…their only purpose in life is to get a rise out of other people. That’s how they get off and that’s how their pathetic followers get off.

            3. Rhiannon: thanks for the clarification.

              GD: Maybe it’s just as well to let Maddox’s OP slide but to be honest I found the chef’s comments more bothersome. I suppose Maddox could be dismissed as just some clown spewing nonsense on the internet. But I would hold a chef, someone entrusted to prepare a safe meal, to a higher standard of responsibility on this matter. If I owned a restaurant I’d take a very dim view at one of my employees conducting himself online in this fashion, especially one who publicly discloses his affiliation with my business.

            4. I didn’t read anybody else’s comments. I figured they’d mostly just be bandwagon comments and it’s not worth my time. But I totally get your point. Hence the reason I detest the fad diet.

  27. Gluten Dude, two of my closest friends from high school decided it would be funny to post and comment on Facebook about the same New Yorker illustration making fun of “annoying” gluten free eaters that you posted above. I think for me it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I posted the following response to their ignorant post two days ago, and I have yet to see any responses from either of them. I’d like to think I have shamed them both into silence:

    “There is nothing to “like” about this. (Name removed), please note that I was diagnosed with celiac disease 12 years ago after being sick and undiagnosed for many years. Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease, which is known by some as the “sister” illness to diabetes. Unlike diabetes however, there is NO medication for celiac disease, and the only treatment is to avoid gluten at all costs. In my case, celiac has forced me to go on a medical diet, which means I have to make all of my food from scratch myself in order to avoid cross contamination. I cannot eat at restaurants because of cross contamination. Despite all of my efforts, I still get poisoned several times a year because food labeling laws in the US suck, which means that gluten can be hidden/undisclosed on food labels. Celiac disease that is undiagnosed/untreated can lead to stomach cancer, osteoporosis, and nerve damage, among other illnesses. I get very sick if I accidently ingest microscopic amounts of gluten. A lot of uninformed people (just like the person in the New Yorker illustration) claim to be on a “gluten free” diet, but are by no means on a truly gluten free diet, and mistakenly believe they will lose weight on such a diet. Moreover, celiacs then get lumped into the same category as those following fad “gluten free” diets, and then become the target of misplaced jokes like this stupid and ignorant New Yorker illustration. Trust me, nothing about celiac disease is a joke. I have a number of other chronic health issues related to celiac disease that are also challenging to deal with. Before you jump on the bandwagon to share jokes about gluten free fad diets, consider those with celiac disease such as myself whose only treatment is to follow a truly gluten free diet and avoid cross contamination at all costs. Should we collectively start making fun of sugar-free diets that diabetics have to follow?”

  28. Did my response have any effect on my (now former) high school friend? Nope, it did not, see below. This is exactly what all of us are dealing with:

    FORMER FRIEND “Guys, I am a Personal Trainer who works with ALL manner of people with nutritional needs and conditions as well as coach to these requirements and I understand Celiac disease. It’s a New Yorker cartoon and it’s funny. End of story.”

    ANJA “____, it is interesting that you state that you “understand” celiac disease, yet you post something that perpetuates ignorance and misinformation about celiac disease. Eating truly gluten free is not a “nutritional need” for me as a celiac, it is a matter of survival, just like diabetics need insulin/medication to survive. There is nothing funny about this whatsoever. You have known me since high school, and may recall that I am a principled person. When I see things that are wrong, I do not stand idly by. I am now unfriending you. End of story.”

  29. I find it interesting that you say you avoid gluten “to stay alive”. I have an anaphylactic allergy to strawberries, which is truly & immediately life-threatening. Sometimes it seems as though these types of widespread claims (including the idea that you advocate lying regarding illness) make it harder for those of us with real anaphylaxis to avoid life-threatening situations when eating in public. Just the perspective of someone who could literally be killed by cross-contamination…

    1. Lefty
      I am not sure who specifically you have aimed your comments towards, but I’d like to say something in reply.

      Anaphylaxis is truly life-threatening. I’ve got a friend who carries 3 epipens with her, so I understand what it means and how frightening it is. 🙁

      But you may not understand what gluten does to a Celiac.
      Consumption of it can and will lead to death. I know. I was almost there before diagnosis. Not sure why you are doubting this fact about celiac disease.

      So, while your reaction may be immediate and severe, malabsorption will certainly lead to death.

      Sorry you have such a severe allergy, it must be very difficult, but it does not negate the fact that celiac isn’t a life-threatening disease. And for this celiac, avoiding gluten is essential to me staying alive.
      Best wishes to you.

  30. “But you may not understand what gluten does to a Celiac.
    Consumption of it can and will lead to death. I know. I was almost there before diagnosis. Not sure why you are doubting this fact about celiac disease. So, while your reaction may be immediate and severe, malabsorption will certainly lead to death”

    Thank you Irish Heart for your spot on response! As usual, the Gluten Dude community can count on you to pull together a thoughtful and heartfelt response to comments that are misplaced at best.

    “Lefty”- Gluten Dude is a trusted source of information and an online spot for sharing for those with CELIAC DISEASE and undiagnosed/diagnosed GLUTEN INTOLERANCE.

    I’ll repeat that:
    Gluten Dude is a trusted source of information and an online spot for sharing for those with CELIAC DISEASE and undiagnosed/diagnosed GLUTEN INTOLERANCE.

    This site is not intended for those with anaphylactic allergies, and celiac disease is not an allergy, it is an auto-immune disease.

    “Lefty”, like Irish Heart I too have friends with anaphylactic allergies. It’s too bad that your post seems to turn things into some type of “who suffers more?” contest. The world is not celiacs versus those with strawberry allergies.

    Neither I nor anyone else with celiac disease are making “claims” or “lying” about the serious health effects of celiac disease, and it is a shame that you feel it is ok to make such statements.

  31. I find it fascinating how defensive you are. I stumbled upon this site from a search about food allergies. I was just offering a point of view. When I commented about lying, I had actually just read the post from April 24th, I believe, which stated that it’s 100% okay to lie about having the disease. I just don’t happen to agree that lying is okay. I think it makes it harder for those of us with anaphylaxis when we deal with the food service industry. Honestly, I would suspect that plenty of people with Celiac disease might agree that lying about the condition shouldn’t be encouraged. Again, just my perspective. I wasn’t trying to make it any kind of contest – it’s definitely apples & oranges. I wasn’t putting you down or anything.

    1. FWIW lefty
      I do not think “all celiacs agree” it is okay to lie about having the disease.

      It’s just that so many people suffer horrid symptoms that make life miserable. So they do not have celiac, and they do not have a wheat allergy. They have SOMETHING making them ill.

      They have non-celiac gluten intolerance and it is a bitch for them to be take seriously, so they claim one or the other. (I do not blame them for choosing to do that….not at all!)

      Can you understand that part?

      I think none of us can really get it– as we do not walk in each other’s shoes. Maybe we should all be sympathetic to each other’s plight and leave it at that.

      I just came back from dinner at Bonefish grill. A great place for GF SAFE dining. After I ordered, she asked “do you want bread?” I looked at her like she had a trout swimming out of her head.
      “Bread? why would I want that, hon? I told you, I have celiac”
      giving her my best smile….
      She said “you’d be surprised how many people order off the GF menu and then ask for the bread”
      I said “no, I really wouldn’t be surprised. This GF fad shit will be the death of us all”. She agreed completely.

  32. Yeah, I just don’t think our opinions are that far apart. They’re pretty similar, I think. I used to work with a girl who would tell waiters that she was “highly allergic” to onions, but if the waiter told her that something she ordered had minced, sautéed onions or onion powder, she would say that was okay. She just hated the taste of onions, especially raw ones. Meanwhile, I’m sitting there with my MedicAlert bracelet, trying to explain to the same waiter that even the slightest cross-contamination with strawberries could result in my being intubated by paramedics.

    In your example of the Bonefish Grill, someone who fibs or pretends to need a gluten-free menu & then eats bread makes things harder for you. In my example, someone who lies about being “highly allergic” to a food made things more difficult for people with anaphylactic allergies. In both cases, people who are not being truthful are making things more difficult for people with genuine problems. So I think our perspectives are the same in some ways.

  33. And then there are those of us, such as myself, who are unable to eat out at all due to the high risk of cross contamination. I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2002, and had been sick for years before that without knowing what the problem was. My sensitivity to gluten cross contamination has reached sky high levels, which is why I do not frequent restaurants. Reading about restaurant encounters sounds quaint to me because I haven’t been in a restaurant in years, and until there is a medication or vaccine that alleviates my having to make all of my meals from scratch, that won’t change. I don’t lie to anyone about my auto-immune disease, there is nothing to lie about. I don’t waste my time with people who don’t get it. I have an illness that requires me to avoid all sources of gluten and cross contamination so there are no waiters in restaurants for me to “lie” to, to begin with. Consider yourselves lucky if you’re able to still eat in restaurants.

  34. Howdy would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using?
    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m having
    a tough time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.

    The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.
    P.S Sorry for being off-topic but I had to ask!

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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