Gluten-Free and a Super Bowl Ad

It’s been a tough week if you are gluten free.

In the latest salvo against the diet, a pre-released Super Bowl ad for NASCAR features the actor who plays Ron Swanson on Parks and Rec demeaning those who are gluten free as being soft.

“When our idea of danger is eating gluten, there’s trouble a foot,” he says standing in front of an American flag, wearing a flag shirt. “Yes, we the people have gotten soft.”

The commercial is titled, “America, It’s time for a gut check.” I’m not sure the writers even picked on this irony.

What’s even more ironic is that fact that those who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity are anything but soft. They have to negotiate a world in which so many foods taken for granted by the Ron Swanson’s of the world are a true danger.

Message to NASCAR, gluten is dangerous if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. With all the attention focused on gluten free, how can anyone have not gotten the message that the protein that’s innocuous to most is poison to some?

Like many writing about this commercial controversy, I am tired of the whole, “let’s kick gluten free around” mentality.

It was on display just a week ago on the Morning Joe show when comedian Joy Behar, in one of the strangest non sequiturs I’ve heard, launched into a diatribe condemning those who are gluten free and challenging how many people really have celiac disease. She had no idea what the number is, but she went after it anyway.

I’ve been a part of the gluten-free community for more than two decades. I know what it was like when no one attacked gluten free because no one had ever heard of it. Nearly everything you ate had to be prepared at home, from scratch. No restaurants had gluten-free menus, and you did the best you could to get a plain, safe meal just so you could go out like other people.

While those days presented challenges, you were able to make your gluten-free way in the world without sarcasm and sneering. I made nearly every slice of bread my daughter, who has celiac disease, ate from when she was 2 years old to nearly 20. And sometimes it was tiring.

But it did not wear me down the way these attacks do. I don’t write about every single one because it would take up so much of the time I’d rather spend writing about things that improve the lives of those who are gluten free.

But this commercial will be widely seen if it’s played before and after the Super Bowl as planned. I couldn’t just ignore it.

Soft? Try growing up and never being able to just eat the food the others kids do and having to explain your diet everywhere you go. Try managing business trips and vacations around a diet that can easily box you into eating only in your home because you don’t otherwise feel safe. Try going to a wedding or a party.

All this can be managed, but it takes a certain kind of inner strength to do it graciously. And it is exhausting to have to add defending yourself to the mix.

Interestingly, NASCAR driver Danica Patrick is involved in another Super Bowl ad controversy. Public outcry prompted Go Daddy, which sponsors Patrick in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, to yank a commercial in which she appears.

The storyline follows a puppy that bounces out of the back of pickup truck, makes its way home through wind and rain, only to be loaded into a Patrick-driven van because it was sold online while away. Go Daddy pulled the ad one day after 42,000 people signed a petition asking that it be removed.

Now you can do the same thing to get rid of the NSACAR ad that puts down people who are gluten free. Gluten-free blogger, The Gluten Dude, has started a petition here.

Sign it to show NASCAR just how strong the gluten-free community can be.

  • Cat Steve

    WOW talk about being ignorant…..I would love to see him deal with the pain I endure when eating something with gluten in it…….I would welcome him to sit up with me and hold my hair back as I get sick over and over again until I have nothing left in my system!

  • David Jackson

    Why is this behaviour acceptable? Nor is making a film where you kill the North Korean president either! Real men eat gluten eh??

  • Steve Stern

    I would gladly eat foods with gluten if I could transfer to that actor the debilitating migraines I used to have before I went gluten-free.

  • Kate Lydon Varley

    I’m married to a man with celiac disease, who doesn’t whine or fuss about it, but whose life is made less difficult when supermarkets and restaurants have gluten free options he can buy, and more difficult when they don’t. I appreciate his life being made less difficult. And I appreciate being able to buy pasta in a supermarket, even at the high prices that are charged for gluten free pasta, because it enables him to eat something he likes on a more regular basis. The reality is that although you may be hearing lots about gluten free food, finding gluten free prepared foods at a reasonable price is difficult. And business trips or vacations can be quite difficult for people celiac, because where they can safely eat is not as easy to determine in an area you don’t know. Those are a few of the reasons why this joke of a commercial doesn’t resonate with me as being funny. I tell you this not because I think you are lacking in smarts, but rather because I imagine that you, as someone who doesn’t have celiac disease, may not understand about how difficult it can be to live gluten free for someone who needs to do so.

  • Bohica

    I wonder how you would feel if the pro gluten crowd got offended by your site and started a petition to have you removed from the internet? I wonder if NASCAR started a petition to tell YOU what you could write, pay for or watch how YOU would feel about it? I wonder how YOU would feel if NASCAR fans protested all your advertisers, and they pulled their ads from your site? I wonder if your site got successfully shut down how YOU would feel reading about what a great victory it is that the petition shut down the gluten free living sites?

    Think about it. Then ponder that maybe you could change the channel, mute it, or even better, try to find your sense of humor. But to think that it is okay to censor or silence them because you don’t agree with them? How very arrogant of you.

    None of you ever get to make another NASCAR redneck joke or comment again. ever.

    • Betty Meyers

      I guess I missed the Nascar redneck jokes on this site.

  • lombadesign

    Sign what? Don’t see a link to do so.

  • lombadesign

    Sorry. See it now. Maybe make the link a different color for those of us who scan articles-?

  • Andy Lalonde

    I am no liberal and def no wussy.. I have a 7 year old recently diagnosed with celiac and can no longer enjoy his favorite foods.. So yes I have a problem with a commercial being aired during the super bowl which my son will be watching. So maybe he won’t get the joke you speak of and just take it personally, because believe me it is a real ailment and not an easy adjustment, especially for a child.

  • Betty Meyers

    Well, now we know the type of person to whom the ad appeals.