Midwest beer bar chain HopCat is preparing to rename one of its most popular and controversial items — Crack Fries. The Grand Rapids-based restaurant group operated by BarFly Ventures announced on Monday, December 10 in a blog post that it would be axing the name due to its insensitive reference to drug addiction, Crain’s reports.
Crack Fries have long been a staple of the HopCat menu. The beer battered fries are tossed in cracked pepper and seasonings that give them a salty and sweet flavor. HopCat is known for luring long lines of customers during the openings of new locations with the promise of free baskets of Crack Fries, meaning the term often appears in headlines (including here at Eater). Still, many people have also called out the company over the years for the name, which they say is in bad taste.
“We chose the name more than 11 years ago as a reference to the addictive quality of the fries and their cracked pepper seasoning, without consideration for those the drug negatively affected. We were wrong,” Barfly CEO Mark Gray wrote in the blog post addressing the name change. “The crack epidemic and the lasting impact on those it affects is not funny and never was.”
“As we grow as a company we have come to realize that to make light of this drug and of addiction contradicts our values of inclusion and community. We want to thank our guests, employees and community members who have helped us come to this realization and apologize for the pain the name brought to others.”
In addition to those who have been impacted by drug addiction, the crack epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s had a disproportionately devestating impact on black communities where crack cocaine was more common. Individuals who were caught in possession of crack cocaine generally received harsher sentences resulting in higher rates of incarceration compared to individuals in possession of powdered cocaine, though the drugs had the same effects on the body.
BarFly plans to begin reprinting and redistributing menus with the revised name in mid-January. Other items featuring the Crack Fries name including signage, online menus, training documents, and promotional materials will also be updated in the new year. The official replacement for “Crack Fries” has not been announced.