Party City Calls Celiacs ‘GROSS’

party city ad about gluten

Just when you think we’ve hit rock bottom…the bar keeps getting lowered.

I thought it was bad when The Today Show called celiac a new trendy disease.

I thought it was bad when The Today Show said we were picky eaters.

I thought it was bad when Dr. Drew basically put Jennifer Esposito on trial for her celiac disease.

I thought it was bad when Disney aired an episode where they bullied a boy who ate gluten-free.

I thought it was bad when Jimmy Fallon portrayed us as losers.

I thought it was bad when Joy Behar said we were irritating.

And I thought it was bad when a Super Bowl ad was made that called us weak.

But what Party City has done has me floored…jaw hanging on the floor, fists of rage flying through the air kind of floored. First, take a look at this video:

This piece of crap is a current AD on NATIONAL TV that Party City is running. Over 20 people have sent it to me privately today and it’s already raised a serious stir in the community. And who am I not to add a little to the mix.

Let’s do a very quick Dude breakdown of the video:

– Person 1 walks in and comments to person 2 what an amazing spread of food she has. Key takeaway: The food on the table is really, really delicious. So far so good.

– Person 1 points to a small dish of unappetizing crackers on the side and asks what they are. Key takeaway: Whatever they are must be totally lame and don’t even deserve to be on the same table as the ‘real food’.

– Person 2 says “those are some gluten-free options.” Key takeaway: Gluten-free food is limited and what IS available must suck. Cause you know, all we can eat are crackers.

– Person 1 asks “Do we even know people that are like that?” Key takeaway: LIKE THAT? LIKE THAT?? People who are LIKE THAT??? Not people “who must eat like that.” Not people “who have an autoimmune disease.” Not people “who have serious food restrictions and have to eat that way for life.” Nope it’s people like US. Just like all of us in this community.

– Person 2 answers with “Tina?!”. Key takeway: By the tone of her voice, they are inferring that Tina is annoying and high-demand. Again…no disease…just…annoying.

– Person 2 responds “Oh gross…yeah.”

No…she really said that. In response to Tina. Not even in response to the fucking food (well partially I’m sure). But in response to the person who must eat this way to survive. Tina is gross. We are gross.

The commercial has been spreading through our awesome community today. So much so that Party City has removed the video from You Tube (luckily I recorded a copy just in case). And they may have even pulled the ad (yay us). But the damage has already been done as it’s been on the air for some time now. Yes…it’s even on Nickelodeon. A mom with a celiac daughter has seen it three times and both of them are angry and upset. As if bullying kids with food allergies isn’t bad enough, Party City just piles on because…you know…it’s funny.

I’m not gonna go on about this. No words can excuse it. No words can justify it. And no words can be strong enough to vilify Party City. So I say this:

To Party City: F*ck you. Seriously…I’m not wasting any more words on you.

To Hill Holiday: You are the ad agency for Party City. It was your creative genius behind this ad. Let’s get something straight. Gluten-free is not funny. Gluten-free has never been funny. Gluten-free will never be funny. The ONLY way someone with celiac disease can treat their disease is a 100% gluten-free diet. For LIFE. We don’t enjoy the limitations. We don’t enjoy the social awkwardness it can sometimes bring. We don’t enjoy getting sick from the slightest crumb of cross-contamination. And we sure as hell don’t enjoy being made fun of for something that is totally OUT OF OUR CONTROL.

It’s 2018 and I just had to write the above paragraph. What is going on in our society?

To the celiac community: As always, you’ve made your voices heard. But Party City can’t get out of this simply because they deleted a video on YouTube. You know how many levels of approval this had to go through to get produced? They need to be heard in full force today, tomorrow and the next day. And only until we receive a PUBLIC APOLOGY from them should we stop.

Hit em on Facebook and share this page.
Email them and tell them what you think of their ad.
Call them at 800-727-8924 to voice your displeasure.
And hit them where it hurts. Stop shopping there. They don’t want gross customers anyway.

Please tell me this is rock bottom.

(P.S. If you want to tell me this ad is geared toward the fad dieters, just don’t.)

Dude Note 2022: For some reason I decided to revisit this post. It still stuns me this made it on air. 4 years later and we’re still struggling to get the respect our disease deserves.

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35 thoughts on “Party City Calls Celiacs ‘GROSS’”

  1. Thank you for advocating!
    We have posted on their site and will call and write as well. Nickelodeon and Hill should also be contacted! They have claimed to use poor judgement, this is beyond poor judment. This is stupid and downright mean!

    1. Good luck getting a human to answer when you call them. I’ve tried about 10 times and it just keeps cycling me through the same options and not a single one is to press 0 to speak to someone. Adding fuel to my angry mom of a celiac sufferer I tell ya!

  2. cynthia loeffler

    this just shows the hate in peoples hearts and minds. even with apology I will never shop there. people like this just adds to our struggle with this disease. jerks from Hollyweird with their fad diets also make our life more of a hardship. I am so angry with all of them I could just launch them all into orbit.

    1. This helps explain why I was bullied by a woman sitting behind me in an adjoining booth who overheard me order a gluten free option in a neighborhood restaurant.

      I’m 63 yrs old and in my life I’ve never experienced anything like what happened to my husband and me once this woman heard me order. She got up from her seat, came around to our table, stood over me and began to make an issue of my order also bashing “ this ridiculous restaurant for caving to this B.S. trend and catering to idiots like you”.
      Understand, this wasn’t a much-discussed order she overheard, just the words gluten-free used as an adjective with hamburger bun. The harassment didn’t stop and escalated to the level that the owner/ manager came over and threw them out.

      Thanks to all —now including Party City— for emboldening the ignorant. Karma will win.

  3. Thank you very much for addressing this ad. I was shocked by how hateful the add was and how much stigma and misinformation must be “out there” for this add to have been conceived, produced AND released!

  4. I’m so glad you didn’t hang up your cleats. I’m so appreciative that you brought this ad to our attention. The insensitivity and labeling is offensive, ignorant and arrogant. Thanks for all your time and effort. It’s needed and appreciated.

  5. The ad agency that created this ad is Hill Holliday. Party City hired them last year, and their first new ads for them were ones for Halloween (which were funny).

    Why Hill Holliday descended into this, I don’t know. Party City takes responsibility for green-lighting the ad, but they have at least now taken the ad down, issued a public apology, and will be making a donation to Celiacs Research. A token gesture? Perhaps, but there is probably little else they can do now.

    It is Hill Holliday that I am having trouble understanding here. This is a young, growing (at least until yesterday) marketing agency, and their job is to try to get the pulse of the country and create ads that will increase the mindshare and sales of their clients. I find it a bit bizarre that they would engage in this.

    And had it only been about the food, I don’t believe it would have gotten quite the traction it did. But the exchange between the women went beyond that. After pointing out the gluten-free table, we get:

    WOMAN #1: “Do we even know people who are like that?”

    WOMAN #2: “Tina.”

    WOMAN #1: “Oh, gross, yeah.”

    Nice. People who are “like that.”

    I am not sure what the whole point of that exchange was. It’s not like Party City is in the business of pushing exclusively gluten-enriched foods. The only value here is for humor. And they were not content with generating humor based upon ridiculing gluten-free foods themselves. But they actually had to add the “people like that” portion. Not just the food deserves mocking, but even the people who eat it, should be.

    “Tina” becomes the substitute for all those (either by choice, or by medical diagnosis) who are gluten-free in their diet. She is a person “like that”. She is “gross”. Eww. Don’t be like Tina.

  6. AND it is IMPOSSIBLE to get anyone at Party City Customer Service to answer their phone. Press 0 for further questions isn’t even an option. I don’t do social media but this is a great reason to start. Party City will not get one more red cent from me or any of my family.

  7. What a bunch of jerks. It isn’t bad enough that we have to live with this disease, but now we have to listen to these uninformed, poorly educated idiots spewing this muck. Party City not one penny more from me….hope you go out of business.

  8. Could you imagine them having a lower table for those in wheel chairs or braille signs identifying food and then saying:
    WOMAN #1: “Do we even know people who are like that?”

    WOMAN #2: “Tina.”

    WOMAN #1: “Oh, gross, yeah.”

    The world would be livid!!!

    But I agree that Hill Holiday should hold some responsibility. We can contact them and let them know we are contacting their clients to let their clients know that we will boycott them unless Hill Holiday apologizes and makes restitution… Their clients consist of Bank of America, Dunkin Donuts, LG, Chilis, John Hancock, Liberty Mutual, Great Wolf Lodge, Capella University, Novartis, Merrill Lynch, Johnson & Johnson, Smucker’s, Tempur Sealy to name a few.

  9. Did you see the apology they posted on FB yesterday?
    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.

  10. I wish I could upload a picture. Just posted this article on PC’s website with the following note, ” I’m hosting a fundraiser with 100% gluten free and delicious food and ZERO party swag from Party City!”

  11. I plan to go into the 2 local stores and introduce my self as a celiac and give he/her a copy of Gluten Free Dude s blog…….
    Yes……please don t hang up those cheats! We need you !

  12. Those unfamiliar with Celiac can’t imagine a mother’s broken heart when a little four year old is doubled over in extreme pain from something they ate. Even when gluten free, cross-contact can cause the same unfortunate reaction. School administrators, teachers and cafeteria workers need better educated, too!

  13. What the hell is wrong with you Party City! You should have never said anything about it. Your awful! Done with buy anything from them!

  14. I have a mild gluten allergy, at 52 my skin was scaley at my waist on my back. Eating gluten free is a chore. But it can be done. Just dont moan and groan. If I go out I will bring stuff to partys to share and I can eat. I also bought a cook book made my life easier. Did I choose it NO, but I do feel better.

  15. My ex boyfriend and his adult kids 18,28,30 think my gluten intolerance is fake! They post Facebook memes about it being fake. All 3 kids and the father take multiple mood altering medications for multiple mental disorders and adhd, bipolar, the 18 yr old is a nympho that cuts herself with glass, the 30 yr old son slept in his mother’s bed until he was 17!!! (No joke) and they are all the biggest liars I have ever met, BUT to them, gluten intollerance is something that needs gossipping and ridiculing because to them(none are experts at anything except lying) gluten intollerance is something to be shamed about!!!

    This is all a true story! No joke!

  16. I think you people should be grateful to Party City. Their big screw up is bringing attention to your plight. Before this, I’d never heard of Celiac, nor probably most of the public. I always thought the gluten-free was just some fad diet. Their insult has done you a service. Public awareness often leads to research that may one day produce a digestive aide to those with Celiacs. Party City has promised a donation towards the cause, so perhaps forgive them and give them a second chance.

  17. It’s such a strange phenomenon that others should even care to be critical of this disease. I just don’t get it. Who in their right mind would EVER give up pizza AND beer if they didn’t have to give it up. Enough said. Could say so very much more.

  18. I am late to the game but how sad is it that we have come to a place where it is socially acceptable and “funny” to criticize others negatively bc they are different. You can’t tell me for one second that Party City didn’t know exactly what they were doing. I would like to believe it was a sincere apology and not a calculated measure after they realized the possible effect on their bottom line. I have Celiac as do my 2 children. I can assure you that there is no ad worth the exposure when a small child sees it on television and feels they are considered gross. It’s bad enough that we have to go to parties with our little cooler of snacks and can’t eat all the yummy stuff everyone else eats but then to be ridiculed on top of it. Perhaps Party City and the ad agency should take a gander at the statistics around Celiac, gluten intolerance and gluten allergies and then the numbers of those yet to be diagnosed. That is the population of folks they stand to alienate. I can tell you right now unless someone shows up on my doorstep and apologizes to my kids personally they will never receive another penny of my money. Blaming the ad agency is just a further insult of our intelligence. I have been responsible for approving advertising. I know the expense involved and I also know that it is something that goes through several levels of approval and vetting bc of the cost involved. Very sad . It is however nice to know that there is a whole community of us looking out for each other. Hugs

  19. I had a co-worker at an old job who flat out said Celiac wasn’t a real disease after I first found out I had it. It really hurt knowing someone I considered a friend didn’t take my health crisis seriously. Stuff like this doesn’t help, there’s already enough misunderstandings about us as it is.

  20. We walked into party city the day after we saw that, and someone left looking so angry, we had to ask why.

    they quit because of the ad. turns out they were celiac.

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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.

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