Usually, when a situation is described as a food fight, the term is used in a colorful way. Adults, after all, do not normally throw food at each other – and so the claim typically signals that the participants in the dispute have regressed to their most childish and intractable selves.
For example, until very recently, one might have metaphorically described the Brexit situation as having turned into a bit of a food fight – one with no clear conclusion in sight.
But as of a few days ago, the situation changed – and not because the participants adjusted their outlooks or behaviors for the better. Quite the opposite: They turned it into a literal food fight and began hurling desserts – milkshakes, specifically.
An act that in turn produced one of the stranger recent chapters in the ongoing fast food wars, which concluded with McDonald’s hitting the pause button on selling milkshakes, and rival Burger King being accused of inspiring food terrorists and extremists on Twitter.
Corporate social media beefs, on occasion, get a little strange.
When a Milkshake Breaks Bad
The issue heated up a few days ago – for reasons soon to be explained – but the milkshake situation kicked off about a month ago, when a video went viral showing a McDonald’s milkshake being thrown on British far-right activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson. The same thing happened again to Yaxley-Lennon/Robinson a few days later.
The milkshake-throwing then jumped to Ukip candidate Carl Benjamin. One resident swore to CNN that Benjamin really, really deserved it, because people “tried to engage Carl in debate, but he merely deflected criticism.” They added that Benjamin saw the milkshake-armed attendees and “goaded them to throw it at him.” He was shaked again last week, but the latest incident also included fish and chips.
So when the very famous British conservative and Brexit champion Nigel Farage was scheduled to appear in Scotland, police were determined to stop him from being pasted with a milkshake. They did the obvious thing and banned milkshakes – but only from McDonald’s.
Their logic was that the McDonald’s location was really close to where Farage was speaking, and has been the source of a lot of the other “shakening” incidents. A printed sign in the window of the Edinburgh branch of McDonald’s stated: “We will not be selling milkshakes or ice creams tonight. This is due to a police request given recent events.”
It didn’t occur to police that milkshakes are not explosive, volatile or at all difficult to carry in a cup for quite a great distance.
But it did work: No one threw a milkshake at Farage in Edinburgh when he appeared on Friday (May 17).
So, how did Burger King get accused of terrorism? Well, social media marketing doesn’t always behave.
Mission Not Quite Accomplished
Although Nigel Farage did avoid getting hit with a milkshake on Friday in Scotland, he did get hit with one on Monday (May 21) in New Castle. And while it might seem strange to blame Burger King for that, segments of the Twittersphere are in fact claiming the fast food chain was egging people on.
Burger King, always looking to distinguish itself from rival brand McDonald’s, decided to remind the good people of Scotland that its milkshakes were on sale this weekend.
“Dear people of Scotland. We’re selling milkshakes all weekend. Have fun. Love BK #justsaying.”
Some people were amused. Some noted that Burger King’s latest attempt to differentiate themselves from the golden arches was a much, much better idea than the Sad Meals they introduced last month. Others, on the other hand, were taken aback. Milkshake victim and apparently now anti-shaking activist Yaxley Lennon/Robinson asked on Twitter if he could come throw milkshakes at their staff. Still others threatened to move on from the business.
“How very progressive of you by aiding and abetting violence against those with political opinions you disagree with, will take my business elsewhere,” one person stated.
Burger King was moved to clarify its statement, noting that it does not support wasting its “delicious milkshakes.”
“So enjoy the weekend and please drink responsibly people.”
Probably not bad advice for everyone involved in the situation at this point.