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Why the Christian Right Is Freaking Out Over a Honey Maid Graham Crackers' Ad

Family-positive marketing from Chips Ahoy, Oreos and Honey Maid has conservatives going crackers.

Photo Credit: Honey Maid; Screenshot / YouTube.com


Everyone has probably experienced a Honey Maid graham cracker sometime in their lifetime. Last month, Nabisco, the company that makes Honey Maid Graham Crackers, as well as Oreos, Chips Ahoy, Nilla Wafers and an assortment of other well-known cookies and crackers, came up with an extraordinary family-positive/gay-positive advertisement. And "traditional values" conservatives went, well ... crackers.

Ironically, at the end of the day, the graham cracker dust-up may in fact benefit both the folks at Nabisco, and its chief critics, the American Family Association's One Million Moms.

'Everyday wholesome snacks for every wholesome family'

The advertisement, which was unusually family-positive, started out with two men taking care of their child, and was followed by a diverse group of families spending time together. The New Yorker's Andrew Solomon described the ad: "It shows a two-dad family, a rocker family, a single dad, an interracial family, a military family. The two-dad household is featured at some length; you cannot be distracted away from it. Most striking is the tagline of the ad: 'No matter how things change, what makes us wholesome never will. Honey Maid. Everyday wholesome snacks for every wholesome family. This is wholesome.'"

The response to the ad - issued earlier this month -- was both heart-warming - many people responded in a very supportive way - and super critical. It was the latter responses that caused the company to put together a second ad, which takes the sometimes super-nasty comments and turns them into a one-of-a-kind inspirational art project, in which two artists glue together the complaints to spell out the word love in cursive.

Andrew Solomon: "'On March 10th, 2014, Honey Maid launched 'This is wholesome,' a commercial that celebrates all families,' the online short proclaims. 'Some people didn't agree with our message.' Viewers see close-ups of tweets and e-mails with remarks such as 'Horrible, NOT 'WHOLESOME,' 'DO NOT APPROVE!,' and 'Disgusting!' The title card says, 'So we asked two artists to take the negative comments and turn them into something else.'

"We then see thirty-year-olds Linsey Burritt and Crystal Grover, who collaborate under the name INDO, taking a printout of each hateful comment and rolling it into a tube, then grouping the tubes at one end of a vast, industrial-looking space to create an assemblage that spells out 'Love.' The artists appear to walk away, their work done. Then the online ad proclaims, 'But the best part was all the positive messages we received. Over ten times as many.' Then we see e-mails with epithets such as 'family is family' and 'love the Honey Maid ad' and 'this story of a beautiful family' and 'most beautiful thing.'

"The entire room fills up with tubes made from these messages. Finally, we are told, 'Proving that only one thing really matters when it comes to family ... ,' and then we see the word 'love' embraced by a roomful of paper tubes. The pacing of the spot is impeccable: the first half turns hatred into love, and the second half provides evidence of love itself. In its first day online, it garnered more than 1.5 million views."

The Motley Fool's Beth Nichols pointed out that "For a brand that had previously been floundering in its social media presence, this is social media gold: millions of viewers who have not only seen an ad, but who can also presume to have been quite engaged when they watched it."

'No longer wholesome' writes Charisma's editor

Jennifer LeClaire, news editor at Charisma, an evangelical online magazine, wasn't amused: "Nabisco's brand is no longer wholesome," she wrote in a piece titled "Gay-Affirming Nabisco Is Shoving More Than Oreos Down Our Throats."