Mary-flavored potato chips

Aw, another innocent marketing decision goes awry.

Sandwich shop chain Pret A Manger has withdrawn a new “Virgin Mary” brand of crisps following religious complaints.

The firm, with about 350 shops in the UK, launched the spicy tomato crisps – based on the non-alcoholic version of a Bloody Mary cocktail – last week.

This prompted complaints, including from Catholic groups, that it was an offensive reference to Jesus’s mother.

A company spokesman said it had noted complainants’ “strength of feeling” and withdrawn the product to avoid offence.

Now look here, Jesus’s mother isn’t the only virgin Mary in the world. How do the complainers know that Pret A Manger didn’t mean their cousin Mary age six? How do they know Pret A Manger meant just that one virgin Mary and not any other virgin Mary?

(I bet I know how Pret A Manger is pronounced, and I bet it’s not prounounced as if it were, you know, French. I bet it’s pronounced PRETTaMONjay. It’s certainly not spelled as if it were French.)

The Reverend Nick Donnelly, deacon of the Diocese of Lancaster and author of Protect the Pope website, was among those who complained to Pret A Manger.

Following the decision to withdraw the crisps, he wrote on the Protect the Pope site: “Clive Schlee and Pret A Manger deserve our unreserved thanks for listening to our concerns as Catholics and for acting so quickly to remove the brand of crisps.

“It seems fitting that Pret A Manger are planning to give any unsold crisps to the homeless.”

He added: “One of the things we need to go away and think about is what this incident tells us about how we defend our faith in the future.

“We’ve been passive for too long in the face of mockery of our faith and discrimination against us as Catholics.”

Yeah? How noisy have you been about child-raping priests? Ireland’s industrial schools? Lies about condoms?

H/t Roger.


  1. Mike (UK) says

    I always thought that Bloody Mary was Mary I of England, so Virgin Mary is just a alcohol-free version. Fair enough.

    So why on earth does this fatwa-envying deacon want to make it about Jesus’s oh-so-virgin mother?

  2. says

    Because they totally have a monopoly on the word “Virgin.” It is THEIR word, dammit. They invented it, they invented the idea of it, they invented the whole thing. They did they did they did.

  3. Rodney Nelson says

    “We’ve been passive for too long in the face of mockery of our faith and discrimination against us as Catholics.”

    An acolyte of Bill Donohue.

  4. rnilsson says

    Did they ever complain over Cheezus’ doodles? I remember there were some rather funny tv commercials, involving stone age people and extra-terrestrial spacecraft. And cheese cutters.

  5. Didaktylos says

    I would like to see Richard Branson going toe-to-toe with the Raping Children Cult over the ownership rights of any phrase containing the word “Virgin” …

  6. iknklast says

    So does that mean that people ordering Bloody Mary without alcohol in bars are now going to have to call it something besides Virgin Mary? Because I imagine that’s where they got the name, if they were Bloody Mary flavored…

  7. busterggi says

    I was no aware that Virgin was part of the mother-goddess’s name.

    If it her middle name? Blessed being her first name of course.

  8. rnilsson says

    I guess the stone age/spacecraft one I was thinking of is far too old for YouTube to have it, but I found these two tv commercials for OLW in the same vein:



  9. FresnoBob says

    We shouldn’t be too harsh on the belligerent deacon – it’s his job to moan and gripe about being marginalised, disrespected and discriminated against.

    We should instead berate the spineless wankers at Pret. I Long for the day when a hapless corporation upsets the religious whiners and responds by saying, “Fuck off! Get over it.”

    How cool would this be:

    “A spokesperson for Pret a Manger said, ‘Our new line of tomato flavoured crisps was named after the non-alcoholic version of the Bloody Mary, the Virgin Mary, which has been a ubiquitous item on millions of cocktail bar menus the world over for decades without raising an eyebrow. Whilst it may well be the case that some people of a religious disposition may reflexively associate the name with a well known religious icon, simple common sense and honest reflection would reveal that the degree of upset claimed by the deacon is grossly exaggerated.”

    Is that too much to hope for?

  10. says

    I can’t get the image out of my mind, for some reason. Possibly too much Goth metal in the ’90s, which draws on a lot of near-Catholic imagery, but….

    I can see a lot of old frightened men viewing these spicy tomato crisps as being a kind of communal Virgin Mary menstrual blood wafer of some kind. I don’t expect they’d want to admit to it if it were true, of course.

    At any rate, there’s probably something of the rejection of the icon-of-woman-as-idolatry about it.

    I hope I’ve not been too weird in posting this.

  11. says

    Hahahaha – no, I don’t think it’s possible to be too weird about this kind of thing, because weird is what it is.

    Ewwww menstrual blood potato crisps! Hilarious.

  12. says

    I’m sorry, Ophelia, but I can’t let you get away with calling crisps chips.
    Crisps are a mass produced convenience food whereas chips are a traditional
    British culinary delicacy, fried twice in oil at different temperatures, left
    keeping warm in the chip shop for several hours and then traditionally served
    wrapped up in yesterday’s newspaper. Of course, in these days of politically
    correct health and safety regulations, you have to bring your own newspaper, that
    is if you can get hold of the traditional variety where the newsprint rubs off in
    your hands; I attribute my ability to read mirror writing to hours spent trying
    to read yesterday’s headlines on my chips before falling over from having
    consumed too much light and bitter.

    But the Reverend gentleman is wrong on at least one count. Crisps have no
    religious significance whatsoever, whereas chips… I well remember how as a
    teenager, me and me mates would get thrown out of the pub at closing time
    Christmas eve, get a twopenny-worth from the local chippy and then turn up at
    church for midnight mass. Our skill at singing carols, and even staggering up
    for communion, all the while keeping the beer and chips in its rightful place
    (i.e. inside us) was a sight to be marvelled at. Now had he objected to Virgin
    Mary chips, I would have been in wholehearted agreement. The Belgians put
    mayonnaise on their chips but even they don’t stoop so low as to cover them with
    tomato ketchup. As the old saying goes: Quid est enim calix sanguinis meum. I’d
    better shut up now so as not to be accused of spamming your site with Latin

  13. Bjarni says

    Yeah, the though that came to me is that some catholics might just see them as a kind of ‘halloween host’? Kinda like ‘body of christ’ with extra gore..

    Either way I think that if NZ can get away with Hell Pizza, surely the company should be able to tell the deacon to go jump?

  14. Bjarni says

    Hey Bernard?

    Tomato sauce on chips is pretty much standard here in Australia. Fish and chips (with sauce) on the beach at sunset is the way to go 🙂

    (Salt and vinegar are popular too)

  15. Dan says

    I dunno, it seems theologically appropriate to find the Virgin Mary (crisps) in a (Pret A) Manger. It’s a whole nativity scene, right there.

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