This isn’t the kind of tribute they want to be paid.
Italian farmers have declared war on food businesses around the world that try to make their bones by using advertising gimmicks associated with the Mafia.
Products including Scottish Cosa Nostra Shot whisky — sold in Tommy-gun shaped bottles — as well as Germany’s Don Marco’s Mafia Coffee Rub barbecue seasoning and the Don Corleone restaurant in Finland are all on the hit list compiled by Coldiretti, Italy’s largest agricultural trade group.
“Using and evoking the name of organized crime for marketing purposes cannot be accepted,” Coldiretti president Ettore Prandini told the Guardian. “There is economic damage to our agri-food sector, but also damage to the victims of the underworld.”
Earlier this month, the organization went to the birthplace of the Mafia — Palermo, Sicily — to exhibit some of the items it found during an investigation that also turned up nearly 300 eateries outside Italy with mob-themed monikers.
The most restaurants — 63 — were found in Spain, followed by Ukraine, Brazil and Indonesia.
But the US — home to New York City’s notorious “Five Families” and the “Chicago Outfit” established by the late mob boss Al Capone — has no shortage, including the Godfather’s Pizza chain, with its slogan: “A pizza you can’t refuse.”
There’s also the New Jersey-based Bada Bean Cawfee company, which pays homage to the Bada Bing strip club featured in HBO’s “The Sopranos,” whose late star, James Gandolfini, was recently honored by having a Garden State Parkway rest stop renamed after him.
And in Hilliard, Ohio, The Meatball Mafia offers dishes such as the Wartime Consigliere sub and the Standup Guy white pizza.
Coldiretti branch manager Alessandro Apolito said the continued association of Italy “with these Mafia stereotypes and criminality is hugely damaging to the country’s image.”
“In Palermo, especially, there was a strong sense of indignation over this absurd marketing,” he said. “There are millions of Sicilians who are honest and respect the laws but who are victims of this criminal plague.”
In addition to the mobbed-up names, Coldiretti said many of the products it found were being disguised as coming from Italy — and being sold past their expiration dates.
“Very often they use an Italian flag on an out-of-date product,” Apolito said. “Not only do these products take away space on shelves from genuine Italian products, but it’s a huge economic cost to our food industry.”
The European Union has “protected designation of origin rules” that allow copycat items to be removed from store shelves but nothing to prevent companies from exploiting the Mafia in a bid to make money, the Guardian said.
Nonetheless, Coldiretti is prepared to go to the mattresses over the issue.
“We need to reach an agreement at the European level to ensure that this can no longer happen,” Prandini said.
This article was originally posted here