(JTA) — A fast food restaurant in Argentina has apologized after naming a hamburger on its menu “Anne Frank” and giving french fries the name “Adolf.”
Jewish organizations in Rafaela, a city more than 300 miles north of Buenos Aires where the Honky Donky restaurant is located, condemned its menu’s nomenclature. On Tuesday, the organized Jewish community of Rafaela announced on Facebook that it would pursue legal action.
“In light of the fact that a fast-food place in our city has trivially used the names of Anne Frank and Adolf to identify their products, the Jewish Community of Rafaela expresses its repulsion and indignation,” the group said in a statement.
According to reports in Argentine media, the menu items’ names might have put the restaurant in violation of Argentina’s anti-discrimination law, which prohibits discrimination based on a range of factors, including race, religion and nationality. The law carries penalties including fines and possible prison time.
On Tuesday, following the backlash and legal threats, Honky Donky removed its cheddar, bacon and green onion “Adolf” fries from the menu, and also renamed the “Anne Frank” burger — which featured tomato, pickles, lettuce and mayo on a beef patty. That item is now called the “Anne Boleyn” burger, after the second wife of England’s King Henry VIII who was beheaded due to allegations of treason and infidelity.
Honky Donky also issued an apology on its Instagram story, an account which the restaurant has since made private. “Irony and cynicism do not fit” in all cases, the restaurant said in the statement posted on Tuesday.
“From our gastronomic venture we apologize for the offense and the lack of sense of responsibility for the misuse of names that refer to open wounds in Humanity as a whole,” the restaurant said.
Honky Donky’s statement added that the situation has “helped us to reflect in depth on the unacceptable trivialization of the unspeakable pain of millions of people victims of a machinery of death and extermination such as totalitarianism.”
Hitler is not the only dictator to be represented on Honky Donky’s menu. As of Tuesday, it also featured “Benito” fries, named for Benito Mussolini, the Italian fascist dictator; the “Gengis” for Genghis Khan, the Mongolian emperor; and the “Mao” for Mao Zedong, the Chinese communist dictator.
The Jewish Community of Rafaela had been aware of Honky Donky’s menu items since March, Ariel Rosenthal, a member of the board of directors, told the local publication InfoBae this week. Officials from the community had spoken with the restaurant owners earlier this year, who promised to change the names.
“We do not understand the delay in doing it, but I understand that at this moment, it is being modified and there will be an apology,” Rosenthal told InfoBae ahead of the removal of the items from the menu.
Rosenthal said the event was “completely atypical” in the city, which is home to about 30 Jewish families. Normally, he said, there is “an excellent coexistence between the different communities and religions.”
“We deeply regret this fact and we hope that you will reflect on the issue,” Rosenthal said, addressing the restaurant. “And that the names of Anne Frank, Adolf and Benito be withdrawn from the products of this place, and that it does not happen again.”
The Israelite Cultural and Sports Association I.L. Peretz, a local Jewish sports group, called the menu items’ names “offensive, insulting and disgusting.”
“We imagine that for marketing reasons and ‘mischief,’ they give their products names with enormous historical echoes,” the association said in a statement. “This Nazi brushstroke is not only offensive to the victims of racist genocide, but also offends human dignity.”
Honky Donky is set to offer more burger and fries options named for more benevolent historical figures, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Dalai Lama, according to the Times of Israel.
This is not the first time a restaurant has been accused of flippantly referencing the Holocaust in order to promote its fare. In November, the German division of fast food chain KFC sent out an online promotion tied to Kristallnacht, the night of Nazi-led antisemitic riots throughout Germany and Austria in 1938 that is seen as the start of the Holocaust.