On January 11 2022, an Imgur user shared Twitter screenshots pertaining to pasta maker Barilla’s spotify playlists:
well they have a Spotify account pic.twitter.com/W7qN0bXlWC
— shit you should care about (@SYSCAbout) March 4, 2021
with playlists that last for the EXACT AMOUNT OF TIME IT TAKES TO COOK EACH TYPE OF PASTA SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO SET A TIMER pic.twitter.com/CfcuZAOHgM
— shit you should care about (@SYSCAbout) March 4, 2021
In the third tweet, @SYSCAbout stated that Barilla’s Spotify playlists ran for the “exact amount of time it takes to cook each type of pasta,” depicting four such playlists:
- Mixtape Spaghetti;
- Boom Bap Fusilli;
- Moody Day Linguine, and;
- Pleasant Melancholy Penne.
Determining the veracity of the claim was fairly straightforward; a search for “Barilla” on Spotify returned a verified “Barilla Italia” account. Barilla featured eight playlists in total on their Spotify account.
In a follow-up tweet on the same day the four tweets were published, @SYSCAbout added that Barilla was once embroiled in a controversy about marriage equality:
turns out the founder said live on radio “I would never do a commercial with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect, but because we don’t agree with them.” So after this whirlwind, I revoke all praise. What a ride.
Again on the same day, @Barilla responded:
Hi @SYSCAbout. We are glad you are enjoying the playlists! 🎶 Just a note on the second news; you are referring to an event occurred many years ago. Barilla fights homophobia by promoting diversity and inclusion through facts. Learn more: https://t.co/dRo2Me3boq
— Barilla (@Barilla) March 4, 2021
As of January 11 2022, the page on Barilla.com linked in the tweet led to an error page for a press release, and we were unable to locate an archived copy. However, a press release from November 2017 — “An in-depth look at Barilla’s LGBT initiatives for Diversity and Inclusion” — began:
“At Barilla we care about all aspects of our employees’ lives, because behind every professional there is a person. The best talents are looking for working environments where they feel appreciated as professionals and as people.”
The words of Kristen Anderson, Barilla Chief Diversity Officer, encompass the sense of profound ethical and human responsibility that guides the way Barilla does business. A consideration that puts diversity, inclusion and the fight against homophobia as integral parts of the culture, values and code of Ethics of Barilla, and that is mirrored in the company policies dealing with human resources.
With respect to the original controversy, a May 2019 Bloomberg.com profile (“Barilla Pasta’s Turnaround From Homophobia to National Pride”) provided context:
On a warm September evening in 2013, Claudio Colzani drove his Audi the 100 or so miles from Milan to Parma, home for almost two centuries to the world’s largest pasta empire. He had joined Barilla SpA as chief executive officer less than a year before and was on his way to a dinner with its chairman, Guido Barilla, who was giving a live interview on national station Radio 24. As the sun edged lower in his rearview mirror, Colzani turned up the volume and listened as his boss walked the hosts through the company’s family heritage—its spaghettis and sauces. Then Barilla dropped a bombshell he would spend half a decade atoning for.
“I would never do a commercial with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect, but because we don’t agree with them,” Barilla said on Italy’s best-known radio talk show. If gay customers didn’t like that, they could go buy another brand of pasta, he said. Barilla, who together with his three siblings owns 85 percent of the company’s shares and holds an individual stake worth about $1.1 billion, extolled the values of the “classic family” that the brand targeted. The chairman, who turned 60 last year and has five children, further clarified that he opposed adoption by gay parents.
That reporting covered an initial boycott, Barilla’s efforts in its wake, and the aftermath of the boycott. Likewise, anti-discrimination group GLAAD featured an updated petition at GLAAD.org/Barilla, originally titled “Stop & Shop: Stop carrying anti-gay pasta.”
At the top of the page, two updates provided context for GLAAD’s revised stance on Barilla and the controversy. Directly underneath those, the original text (italicized) remained intact:
UPDATE: After a remarkable worldwide campaign by consumers and LGBT activists to boycott his family’s pasta company, Guido Barilla issued a second apology via video on the company’s website and pledged to meet with LGBT organizations.
Since the response from LGBT people and allies in 2013, several media outlets have noted that Barilla has completed a turnaround and done work internally and externally to support LGBT people and families. The Huffington Post gave Barilla the title of ‘Most Improved’ in a list of five companies that go ‘above and beyond for the LGBT community.’ You can check out Barilla’s work to show support for LGBTQ youth on #SpiritDay here.
From September 26, 2013: Barilla pasta head Guido Barilla recently said, “I would never do an advert with a homosexual family … if the gays don’t like it they can go an eat another brand.” Following Barilla’s comments, Linda Ferraro, an Italian-American mom, has launched a Change.org petition calling on Stop & Shop to stop carrying Barilla pasta.
A January 2022 Imgur post asserted that Barilla’s Spotify playlists existed to time the cooking of various pasta shapes, which was true. A follow-up tweet in the series (not featured on Imgur) addressed a 2013 controversy involving Barilla and homophobia. As Barilla indicated, the brand addressed the controversy. GLAAD, an anti-discrimination group, stated that “Barilla has completed a turnaround and done work internally and externally to support LGBT people and families.”