A café in East London is under pressure from several anti-defamation groups after customers spotted what appeared to be a Nazi-themed beverage emblazoned with a swastika in the restaurant's refrigerator.
Last week, pictures began circulating online of a 300ml milk nut-based smoothie called the "Nutzy" -- emblazoned with a swastika-- being sold at Nincomsoup shop, a takeaway eatery in Old Street Tube station in North London.
— Tales Of Dumbasses (@dumbassesnews) November 28, 2016
Sightings of the drink reportedly left some customers in tears.
When contacted by The Sun, store barista John Jordan, who Nincomshop's owner claims designed the drink bottle, refused to apologize for the labeling.
“The Swastika was originally a Hindu symbol and ‘Nutzy’ is something that has lots of layers,” he said. “I certainly have sympathy – but I don’t make any apology. It is something that was misunderstood. Of course, ‘Nutzy’ has a play on ‘Nazi’, but it can also be for ‘nuts’ or ‘courageous’. It depends how it is interpreted.”
But by Sunday, the shop had changed course. Nincomsoup's founder Ben Page-Phillips posted an apology to the company's website on Nov. 27.
"Sadly, an employee deemed it appropriate to put a Swastika on a smoothie named The Nutzy," wrote Nincomsoup's founder Ben Page-Philips on the company's website. "This was unsanctioned and the bottles were removed immediately upon being alerted by our shop manager. Needless to say the rogue employee has been dismissed. This was incomprehensible, extremely insensitive, and upsetting to all of us. We unreservedly apologise [sic]."
Nincomsoup rogue employee dismissed full apology and statement: https://t.co/7JiByaUMLE
— Nincomsoup LDN (@nincomsoupLDN) November 27, 2016
The drink was later removed from store shelves, and Jordan has since been fired-- but not before setting off a controversy that reverberated throughout the country.
“We fought a long war to stop the Swastika flying in Britain and it needs quickly removing from the shelves of this café,” said Labour Party MP and chair of the all-party against anti-Semitism, John Mann.
“I suggest environmental health officers do a spot check on the hygiene of the cafe to see if there are any other nasties lurking."
Board of Deputies of British Jews Vice-President Marie van der Zyl described selling the drink as a “provocative exercise” while Stephen Silverman, director for the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism Enforcement Director,was shocked.
“It beggars belief that this shop created a Nazi-branded drink by unwitting coincidence,” Silverman said. “It was unavoidable that this would be immensely offensive to Jewish people and anyone who lost members of their family to Nazi brutality.”
Some suggested the soup shop had organized the drink as part of a larger publicity stunt.
But in a lengthy statement posted Nov. 29, Page-Phillips attempted to assure detractors that that the "nutzy" drink was in no way a reflection of his company's values and reiterated his apology.
"I gave our now 'ex' juicer, the freedom to develop our juice position, and although only with us a few months, he had proved himself a very capable and creative addition to the shop. I cannot tell you what was going through his mind when he created the label. Without doubt it was a gross misjudgement of epic proportions, but I did get to know him well enough to be sure that he does not have a single ounce of malicious intent towards anyone," the founder wrote.
He continued, "I am Nincomsoup, I am ultimately responsible, and I feel sick to the core. It's unpleasant unearthing so much hate and anger in the world when you're trying to make a difference. If only all this energy could be harnessed and channelled [sic] to make a better world. It's sad that in today's society we are so quick to condemn, judge and persecute."