Irish echo logo 750x550

Dennygrated

The ad offered unlimited pancakes or fries with entrees up until the end of March.

But in offering unlimited heavy fare, the ad made light of the greatest tragedy in recorded Irish history by offering "free pancakes in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the end of the Irish Famine."

The ad prompted a flurry of furious emails, including some from Echo readers.

"The commercial is for their new promotion of endless fries and pancakes and it uses the Irish famine as a joke," wrote one irate reader.

"What's next, free latkes for the holocaust?" the reader added.

Readers of other newspapers also expressed outrage.

"I saw the commercial that included potato famine jokes. I guess Denny's forgot that over a million people died during the great potato famine and it was the primary reason for the Irish to emigrate to the U.S. Whoopsie! Awkward!" a Chicago Tribune reader posted on a Tribune website blog.

"Anyone have a link to the famine commercial online? I saw it this morning and have wanted to share it. I can't believe that they did that," wrote another Tribune reader, whose comment was posted on the same site.

The uproar, which the Echo reflected in a story posted on our website at the end of last week, prompted a furious letter to Denny's from Ancient Order of Hibernians National President, Seamus Boyle.

"As the National President of the largest Irish American organization in the United States, I am writing to demand that you immediately cease airing your advertisement concerning the promotion for foods referencing the "Irish Famine," wrote Boyle.

He included a pocket history of the Great Hunger before accusing Denny's of having "the audacity" to make fun of the these people who died of a starvation "much worse than any genocide ever recorded in history, so that you can sell your product on the back of our dead ancestors."

Boyle stated that he had contacted AOH members "throughout the United States where Denny's has a franchise to be ready to mobilize when needed. I am appalled at your advertisement, as are all Irish and Irish Americans.

"We are not the only Irish American organization in the United States who are ready to let you know how we feel about our

ancestors defamation so you can sell a product and make a profit.

"I ask that you contact me immediately and hopefully you will cease and desist from airing this vile and disrespectful advertisement," Boyle concluded.

Denny's did just that, though the ad was not pulled from screens until Tuesday of this week. In an official statement, the company took a step back. Nevertheless, the apology was being criticized by some as falling flat.

"Denny's has a history of using humor in its television advertising. It is certainly not the intention of the company to offend anyone or any group and we apologize if this spot has in any way. As a result of the feedback we have received from our customers the spot will no longer be on the air after Tuesday. We thank those who took the time to contact us," the Denny's statement said.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

 

Donate