Doritos attacked: Republican hopeful Mike Huckabee boycotts makers of ‘anti-Christian’ crisps

Frito-Lay offered to send a bag of rainbow-coloured Doritos to anyone who donated $10 or more to the It Gets Better project

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The Independent US

Eager to distinguish himself from his rivals in the GOP presidential field, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has opened a new front in the culture wars: a bag of toasted corn tortilla chips.

Mr Huckabee recently wrote an open letter to snack food giant Frito-Lay, to complain about its latest out-there flavour of Doritos. But his concern was not for, say, childhood obesity. Instead, he was protesting the company’s partnership with the It Gets Better project, which seeks to combat anti-LGBT bullying among young people.

Last month, Frito-Lay offered to send a bag of rainbow-coloured Doritos to anyone who donated $10 (£6.59) or more to the initiative. The firm’s marketing chief, Ram Krishnan, said the multi-hued comestibles demonstrated Frito-Lay’s “commitment toward equal rights for the LGBT community”.

Yet Mr Huckabee took issue with the scheme because, he said, the man who originated the It Gets Better project – sex columnist, podcaster and gay rights activist Dan Savage – had made “hateful and vulgar comments towards Christians.”

I don’t see how a gay bag of chips limits anyone else’s religious freedom

Dan Savage

Mr Savage is known for his biting criticism of gay rights opponents, particularly those on the Christian Right and in the Republican Party. Mr Huckabee, a critic of same-sex marriage and an ordained Christian minister, wrote in the letter, dated 23 September: “It is beyond me to understand how a responsible corporation would think that partnering with someone who spews the vicious vitriol that Savage does would be worthy of your corporate contributions.”

Apparently unruffled, Frito-Lay continued the partnership, and the rainbow Doritos proved so popular that they sold out. Mr Huckabee has since joined forces with the American Renewal Project (ARP), a lobbying group of evangelical pastors, to demand a boycott of all snacks made by the company, which include not only Doritos, but also Cheetos, Fritos and Tostitos.

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Frito-Lay offered to send a bag of its rainbow-coloured Doritos to anyone who donated $10 or more to the It Gets Better project

In a letter sent to more than 100,000 pastors, ARP founder David Lane wrote: “Tolerance for Frito-Lay’s brazen corporate support of hate speech by Dan Savage... is chipping away at the very character and soul of the American experience.”

Mr Savage said the Christian group’s response to the rainbow Doritos was analogous to their attitude to other gay rights issues. “I don’t see how a gay bag of chips limits anyone else’s religious freedom,” he told Time. “You don’t have a right to live in a world without bags of gay chips, and it doesn’t infringe on anyone’s private beliefs.”

This is not the first time Mr Savage has antagonised a Republican presidential hopeful. In 2003, he struck back at anti-gay comments by the then-US Senator for Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, by introducing his surname to the lexicon of homosexual activity. Mr Savage invited his readers to choose an alternative meaning for the term “Santorum”, so anyone searching for the Senator’s name online would see its sexually graphic definition.

Of the Doritos controversy, Mr Savage said: “Michelle Obama’s probably going to call to thank me for getting so many right-wing nuts to give up snacks. Maybe they’ll be a little thinner.”

The First Lady has led a campaign against childhood obesity, winning praise from Mr Huckabee among others. While Governor of Arkansas, Mr Huckabee was clinically obese, and famously lost more than 110lbs after being diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes.

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