Well, this year Tesco advertised their Christmas range of gluten free products on TV for the first time ever. I’ll give them some marks for trying, but having the “gluten free Latimers” round sounds about as much fun as having Gwyneth Paltrow at your Christmas party table.
Tesco’s Christmas gluten free ad has had mixed reactions from the coeliac cybersphere. The prevailing attitude from non-coeliacs however, seems to have been that we should be grateful that one of the big supermarkets has deigned to devote TV airtime to our kooky food preferences. Yeah, those gluten free Latimers. Aren’t they a pain? Good job Tesco has such a lot of gluten free food eh? Wink wink, nudge nudge.
I’ll give Tesco the points for making it easy for people, since not even the professionals appear to have the imagination to be able to cook dishes from naturally gluten free foods (of which there are many, by the way, that don’t come out of a packet from a factory production line). The size of their range is great and some of the products are also decent (the Tiger Rolls and Finest Carrot Cake are my favourites, FYI, just in case anyone wants to invite me to any Christmas parties). Judging by the size of the trolley in the advert, the Latimers are not so much a family as a small gluten free army, so I do hope the ad isn’t inadvertently encouraging food waste here. I know it’s exciting to have profiteroles and mince pies, people, but let’s not go crazy here or Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall will be round to rifle through your bins.
I guess what troubles me is that this ad isn’t aimed at the people who are actually going to eat the food. It was aimed at non-GF people who have to go through the “hassle” of catering for us on special occasions and this idea of the whole gluten-free family (which really doesn’t happen often by the way Tesco – coeliac disease can run in families, but you’d be very unlucky if every single family member had it) further reinforces the idea of gluten-free folk being somehow “faddy” or “fussy”. The ad doesn’t actually answer its own question “what is a gluten free?”. That might have been an opportunity to address the whole question about how most people who eat gluten free do so because of medical necessity, but nope – the opportunity was passed up.
The take-home message? Never mind the lives of people who have to live with coeliac disease and what a pain in the proverbial that is; let’s focus on the fact that it’s inconvenient for gluten-eaters to have to deal with them at Christmas parties. And by the way, we know it’s inconvenient, OK? We deal with this shit every day, sometimes literally if you inadvertently eat gluten without knowing it at the time and that really is pretty bloody inconvenient, if you must know.
I’ve written about the whole touchy issue of catering for people who follow a gluten free diet before on The Guardian Comment is Free (to a mixed reception) – if even top chefs who supposedly cook everything from scratch find it a pain to cater for us, then it’s not exactly going to help mere mortals to know what the heck to do with a coeliac dinner guest, is it? If you follow the advice of some chefs, the solution is not to invite them, so at least the poor old Latimers are being included this year.
At least Tesco bothered though. Despite their pretty high-end (and bloody nice) GF Christmas goodies, even M&S, kings of the supermarket food porn ad, didn’t bother featuring any gluten-free products. If I was marking homework though, I’ve got to say it would be a “could do better” from me – less patronising “humour” please and focus on the people who are going to actually, you know, eat the stuff.
Watch the ad: https://youtu.be/0vf6Hk3YshA
Are you coeliac or dodging gluten? What did you think of the Tesco ad? Leave a comment or tweet @glutendodger