Do You Prefer Food Truck Sandwiches With Or Without Ethnic Slurs?

Is it okay to welcome a business with a potentially offensive name to a public space or to government property? That’s the question at the center of a dispute between an upstate New York food truck and the state government. The truck is called The Wandering Dago. Is that an offensive term in 21st-century America?

Depending on who you ask, this is either an affectionate reference to Italian immigrant day laborers earning money “as the day goes,” or a deeply offensive ethnic slur against those hard-working laborers and their American-born descendants. The truck’s owners (who both claim Italian ancestry) defend the name and stand by the name of their business and their menu, which includes items named with ethnic slurs traditionally aimed at Polish and Irish people. We hear that the pulled pork and marinara sandwich is delicious. This sandwich is called the “Dago.”

A mysterious high-ranking government official complained about the name, and the truck was kicked out of its potentially lucrative spot at the Saratoga Race Course during the track’s summer racing meet. The not-for-profit New York Racing Association had accepted the business as a food vendor, but abruptly ended the contract after receiving a complaint from the mysterious powerful person.

Now the company is suing NYRA and the state Office of General Services. The truck was also rejected from selling its wares at lunchtime to civil servants and other workers near the massive state office complex in downtown Albany. The reason? Its name is an ethnic slur “by any standard,” a spokeswoman for the state agency explained at the time.

They’re pursuing damages for lost business and punitive damages. Oh, and assurance that the truck won’t get rejected at the last minute from a planned event on state property or at the race course ever again.

Food truck rejected over name sues state [Times Union]