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Restaurant Addresses Insensitive Addiction Stigma

As addictions become more prominent across the U.S. (thanks, in part, to the opioid crisis), conversations do appear to be shifting. Though we’re still a far way from where we want to be, we have seen progress when it comes to de-stigmatizing these issues and removing insensitive language from the lexicon. Case in point: the national restaurant chain HopCat, who made a significant menu change to respect those struggling with dependencies.


In a move that made national headlines, HopCat CEO Mark Gray released a YouTube video telling his customer fanbase that they will changing the name of their famous “Crack Fries.” A staple of the HopCat experience for over a decade, the salty potato skins were labeled as such because of their “addictive qualities.” Now, however, as the country faces dozens of daily overdoses, it is time to rethink that labeling.


For reference, the fries were supposed to “humorously” be compared to crack cocaine; a highly addictive drug that has taken millions of lives. While we believe they should have never held this moniker, we applaud Gray for deciding to make the change now.


“While the name Crack Fries was intended to be tongue-in-cheek, drug addiction is not a joke,” Gray told customers in his blog and YouTube post. “The drug crack has devastated many of the communities that we serve. To all of our employees guests and community members who have helped us come to this conclusion, I would like to say thank you for helping lead us in the right direction.”


And so far, he is making good on his promise. The name has now been removed from all HopCat menus, websites and restaurant signage. The new label has yet to be revealed, but Gary promises an update by early January.


Though most of us on the west coast were probably unfamiliar with Crack Fries, they had been a popular staple across middle America. In fact, The Food Network even added them to their coveted list of “America’s 10 Best French Fries.” In addition to that, they are part of a national contest held by the restaurant every January. Gary did promise that their “fry eating extravaganza” would continue, albeit with an entirely different look and feel.


Though this is a very positive move on behalf of HopCat, there are still plenty of other chains and restaurants that continue to use insensitive labeling which is offensive to those of us in the recovery community. Hopefully they can watch Gary’s full video (available below) and learn by his example.