The way St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in America, anyone and everyone can be Irish just by throwing on some green clothing, scattering shamrocks over your person and indulging in the time-honored past time of indulging in a few pints of Guinness.* The real Irish tolerate our shenanigans to a point, but if you start talking bombs or referencing other violence, you’re in for it.
Last year Nike found itself in hot water right around St. Patrick’s Day with the debut of its “Black and Tan” sneaker, named after a drink which in turn, is named after a paramilitary group that massacred thousands during the Republic of Ireland’s struggles to free itself from England’s rule in the 1920s.
A bakery in NYC found it had crossed that line from shamrock shenanigans to accidentally being offensive with a new trifle in a cup called the “Irish Car Bomb.” It layered Jameson frosting, Bailey’s caramel crumble and Guinness cake in a glass.
The dessert is a shout-out to a drink popular with the younger set that involves tossing a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream and Jameson into a pint of Guinness and chugging the whole thing before the liquer curdles. Somewhat delicious, we’ll admit.
But those are named after, go figure, real car bombs that terrorized the Irish during a period in Northern Ireland between the 1960s-1990s called the “Troubles.” That time was a period of extreme violence, and one the Irish on both sides are understandably sensitive about. And if you’ve ever ordered one in earshot of an Irishman, you’d better run.
The bakery has since changed the name to an “Irish Cream Cake,” a good move if it wants to stay on the good side of Irish sentiment, even if it’s not a huge company like Nike.
“It was not our intention at all to offend anybody,” the shop’s pastry chef told the New York Daily News. “This particular combination of alcohol is named a car bomb in bars as a shot, and they’re delicious, and so we wanted to create that flavor profile using the same alcohols.
“But we did not want to poke any sort of fun or make anyone uncomfortable,” he adds, “so of course we thought it best to rebrand it.”
Good call, bakery! As such, a note to businesses both large and small (we’re looking at you, Urban Outfitters, with your drunken leprechaun T-shirts): Just stick to products that are green, featuring sober leprechauns, shamrocks and the other more harmless cliches, unless you want to provoke Irish ire.
*Or 13 Budweisers and half a bottle of Bailey’s you stole from your dad and smuggled in a backpack on the train into the city, which you will end up spewing on the corner of 45th and 6th while people at work are on their lunch breaks trying their best to avoid all you darn underage parade partiers.
Bakery finds its ‘Irish Car Bomb’ confection was a real misfire [New York Daily News]