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

The Right Wing

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."

LeClaire pointed out that members of the conservative American Family Association's One Million Moms group were "up in arms": "The American Family Association-linked group insists Nabisco should be ashamed of itself for the cracker commercial that attempts to 'normalize sin.'"

"One Million Moms stands up for Biblical truth which is very clear in Romans 1:26-27 about this particular type of sexual perversion," the group stated. "Honey Maid is also using the hashtag #thisiswholesome. There is concern about the way this ad is pushing the LGBT agenda, but an even greater concern is the way that they are changing the meaning of the word 'wholesome.' This is truly sad. If this is what Honey Maid thinks is wholesome, then my family will no longer purchase Honey Maid or Nabisco products."

The scolds at One Million Moms have declared war on Honey Maid Graham Crackers: "That's how they [the company] decided to respond, and that's fine. That's their choice. Now we know where they stand," Monica Cole, director of One Million Moms, tols Vocativ.com. "Now we know not to support Honey Maid, and we won't be buying their products. ...We can vote with our wallets."

As Luke Malone pointed out at vocative.com, this is pretty much standard procedure for One Million Moms, which really doesn't have one million moms as members. The group "attacks brands and television shows that members feel are bad for children by initiating email campaigns and boycotts. They focus on the use of profanity, sexuality and positive depictions of same-sex couples or families. Comprised of 'Christians and/or conservative parents,' the group believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and that anything else is a departure from the biblical teachings they are trying to pass on to their children."

Cole told Malone how they "choose which television shows to target": "Even if part of the show has a good base as far as the plot line, if there's anything added in it that we would find not appropriate, it's kind of like a batch of brownies," One Million Moms Director Monica Cole said in the interview. "You put a little poison in it, you're still not going to eat them. A little bit of poison can ruin the whole batch."

And if anyone can recognize the "poison" in a batch, it's the American Family Association's One Million Moms. Over the years, the AFA has launched a myriad of campaigns and boycotts of products and programs it considers to be poisoning the culture. Some have been moderately successful and some not so much. The main takeaway: The only way to keep your base engaged and enraged is to constantly find targets of discontent.

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