The name ‘Virgin Mary’ is commonly used to describe spicy tomato juice – by contrast with ‘Bloody Mary’ – vodka and tomato juice. So I’m not sure why anyone should find it so very shocking that Pret A Manger chose to give the same name to its own spicy tomato flavour crisps. And I’m equally unclear why Pret A Manger should have taken the drastic step of withdrawing the crisps from sale. The original response from the company’s (Catholic) CEO seemed pretty sensible:
‘It happens that I am a Catholic. I have examined my conscience about the naming of our crisps. The term Virgin Mary is widely used in the market today to describe a well known cocktail: a tomato juice with Worcester sauce and without vodka. I have consulted a lot of people in our office about this and that is what they all think of when they see our crisps packet. Please, please don’t take offence. None is intended.’
But now they’ve backtracked, to the delight of the Reverend Nick Donnelly:
He added: “One of the things we need to go away and think about is what this incident tells us about how we defend our faith in the future.
“We’ve been passive for too long in the face of mockery of our faith and discrimination against us as Catholics.”
There may well be mockery/discrimination against Catholics – but were these crisps really part of the problem?