Two Little Caesars employees in Ohio have been fired after they presented a customer with a pizza displaying a backwards swastika made from pepperoni.
The Ohio woman whose husband was presented with the pizza at a Little Caesar’s branch in Brook Park on Smith Road says the occurrence has left her “truly disappointed,” saddened, and disturbed.
Misty Laska posted a photo of the offending pizza on Twitter on June 28, along with the caption, “so my husband stopped at #LittleCaesars for a quick bite, husband brings this home! I’m truly disappointed. This is truly saddening and disturbing and not funny at all! These aren’t funny jokes and shouldn’t be made period and on company time?!”
While the workers who made the pizza called it an “inside joke gone wrong,” according to the Huffington Post, Misty Laska and her husband, Jason, told a CBS Cleveland affiliate the joke was “not funny. Especially with everything going on in the world right now.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Little Caesars Spoke Directly to the Couple
The couple said in an interview with Fox 8 that they received a phone call “from the local owner and the Little Caesars corporate office” on June 28 following the incident.
The owner reportedly told Jason Laska that it was “supposed to be an internal joke that they were playing on each other and the other employee, and the pizza was never intended to go out. He also confirmed that he had let the employees go that morning.”
Jason Laska described the chain of events after he brought the pizza home to his wife. His interview with ABC’s News 5 Cleveland indicates the pizza was a pre-made grab and go:
I walked in. I said, ‘What do you guys have left?’ And they said a pepperoni and a cheese and I said ‘give me the pepperoni.’
… he paid for the grab-and-go pizza but didn’t look inside the box until he got home, but his wife said she was disgusted to find pepperonis carefully arranged in the shape of a backward swastika.
Speaking with Fox 8, Laska recounted his wife’s discovery of the swastika.
He ordered a pepperoni pizza. When he got home and opened the box, he found the pepperoni on the pizza in the shape of a swastika.
‘She turned and asked me ‘Babe, did you order this, did they make it for you?’ And I turned around and looked at it and I could see the shock on her face and then my jaw just dropped.
‘I was like they didn’t cut our pizza, but then I stepped back for a second and I saw the symbol. And I looked at him and I was like ‘Hold on, did you have to order fresh pizza or something?’ Misty Laska said.
The Laskas did not eat the pizza, instead they saved it for proof. They immediately called the shop, which had closed just minutes earlier.
Spokesperson for Little Caesar Enterprises, Inc Jill Proctor told News 5 Cleveland in a written statement:
We have zero tolerance for racism and discrimination in any form, and these franchise store employees were immediately terminated. We’re deeply disappointed that this happened, as this conduct is completely against our values … we have also reached out to the customer to discuss this personally with him.
The Internet Emphasized The Fact The Swastika Was ‘Reversed,’ & The Symbol’s Shifting Meaning Over Time
Several tweets were posted in response to the incident with Twitter users pointing out the swastika was reversed, and the symbol once held a very different meaning before it was appropriated by Nazi Germany.
“Swastik is a symbol holy to Hindus, Buddhists, Jain for thousands of years. Also Aryan is how Indians & Iranians have identified themselves for thousands of years. These Germans right winger nuts appropriated that in 19th century and now they have become ‘bad things’,” Shivam Sethi wrote.
Another user wrote, “this is not a Nazi symbol. Its origin is India. In Sanskrit it means happiness. In Japan it is used as a symbol of a temple on the map. That’s been said, I think these employees meant to make Nazi swastika but just got it wrong lol.”