Catholic CEO of Pret A Manger defends ‘Virgin Mary Crisps’ against complaints of offensive bad taste

The Pret A Manger sandwich chain have decided to insult their Catholic customers by naming their new Worcestershire Sauce flavoured crisps, ‘Virgin Mary Crisps’

A reader of Protect the Pope wrote to Pret A Manger to complain, making the point that Pret A Manger would not dare to mock the Muslim or Jewish faiths so why have they seen fit to mock Christianity. Why they should make such an appalling, tasteless and offensive lapse of judgement.’

This is the reply from their CEO:

‘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.’

Protect the Pope comment: The Pret A Manger’s CEO should know better than to use the name of Our Lady, the Mother of God, to sell a snack food. It’s cheap, demeans the name of the Virgin Mary, and offends Catholics who hold Our Lady in the highest regard.  It’s irrelevant what the CEO’s employees tell him in the office about the appropriateness of the name, it’s what Catholics think that counts.  What will practicing Catholics first think of when they see the name ‘Virgin Mary crisps’? Not a well known cocktail for sure.

There are 53 references to the title ‘Virgin Mary’ in the Catechism of the Catholic Church’, including the following:

The eyes of faith can discover in the context of the whole of Revelation the mysterious reasons why God in his saving plan wanted his Son to be born of a virgin. These reasons touch both on the person of Christ and his redemptive mission, and on the welcome Mary gave that mission on behalf of all men. ‘Mary’s virginity manifests God’s absolute initiative in the Incarnation. Jesus has only God as Father. “He was never estranged from the Father because of the human nature which he assumed. . . He is naturally Son of the Father as to his divinity and naturally son of his mother as to his humanity, but properly Son of the Father in both natures.” (CCC 53-54).

Or how about this from St. Augustine:

Mary “remained a virgin in conceiving her Son, a virgin in giving birth to him, a virgin in carrying him, a virgin in nursing him at her breast, always a virgin” (St. Augustine, Serm. 186, 1: PL 38, 999): with her whole being she is “the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38).

And Pret A Manger wonders why Catholics feel insulted and offended by this demeaning use of the Virgin Mary’s name?



54 comments to Catholic CEO of Pret A Manger defends ‘Virgin Mary Crisps’ against complaints of offensive bad taste

  • He should get his facts right even if his “conscience” is askew: the cocktail is actually called a “Bloody Mary”. According to Wikipedia there is some debate as to the origin of that name but at least it does not refer to the Blessed Virgin.

  • John Dare

    Isn’t that the one WITH vodka?

  • Elizabeth

    Absolutely disgusting. The so-called “Catholic” CEO should be ashamed of himself.

  • Trisagion

    Atrocious, unfortunately a Bloody Mary absent the vodka is often called a Virgin Mary.

  • Dominic H

    The correct, and truly Christian, and truly Catholic approach is (a) either to ignore this, as it is deeply trivial and clearly not intended to be a cause of offense; or (b) adopt an attitude of hyperdulia while in the store. It is ludicrous to aggressively take offense like this.

  • Karla

    I think they are doing it for attention. They know people will complain about this and they get free advertising. It is very offensive, I advise not buying anything from them in the future

    • Haslam

      ..and we are giving them that.

      I saw some of these last week and it didn’t even cross my mind to take offense. I simply thought “interesting crisps”

      The odd thing is now I have read this post, I am slightly (only slightly) offended.

  • Rifleman819

    Yes and Pret are about to market their new style “Mohammed’s Porkies” brand of mini-bagels with the name of the Prophet transliterated from Arabic into Hebrew for their Jewish customers.

    Market testing these in Tower Hamlets ,Luton and parts of Birmingham.

    And their Brands manager Abdul Latif said “As a Muslim I considered this carefully and ……..”

    Yeah….sorry we’ve woken up from this hypothetical dream now……but with Catholics it’s ok , innit?

  • I look forward to Pret a Manger selling Virgin Mary Potato Chips, crisps as you call them, here in their New York City outlets. They sound like they taste divine.

  • Jonty

    I think some people are just looking for offence here. A “Virgin Mary” appears on cocktail menus everywhere as the non-alcoholic version of the Bloody Mary (which presumably references Mary Tudor rather than Our Blessed Lady). I enjoy one after Mass most Sundays (the Bloody version, that is).

  • Lola

    I’d let them off if they also sold Bloody Mary Crisps but, they don’t. Must write to the CEO.

  • I don’t have to wait to see what my reaction will be when I see these crisps: I won’t see them because I won’t be in the place!

  • Rebecca

    I just spoke to the CEO’s assistant regarding this. She tried to justify it saying that it is just naming it after a cocktail, however I pointed out that the cocktail is actually called “Bloody Mary” – response – SILENCE. Then I pointed out that she would not dare do this against people of other religions for example something to do with the prophet Muhammad or a play on those words, again there was a deadly SILENCE. She said that she would get the CEO to ring me back regarding this matter.

    Please can all people ring the CEO at Pret a Manager to complain about this matter:

    Customer services 0845 205 0000.
    Ask to speak to the CEO Clive Schlee

    Church Militant its time to rise up and stand up in love against the enemies of the Church both on the inside and the outside.
    You give these people an inch they will take a mile!!!

    • ms Catholic state

      Have made my complaint with them. Spoke to a nice telephonist who obviously had nothing to do with this decision…but she promised to pass on my complaint. Couldn’t get Mr Schlee…but left a message on answering phone.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    One can complain on their website. You have to fill in the box about shop visited. However just putting “None for the moment” does the trick.

  • ms Catholic state

    All Catholic schools (especially secondary schools) should inform their pupils of this shop and its insulting crisps and ask them politely to boycott it out of respect for Our Lady…our most Holy Mother.

    It’s up to the pupils then to choose whose side they are to take!

  • comtedefrebonius

    The fact that this offends all who whole Our Blessed Mother in the highest regard is sad enough, but that the CEO is a Catholic who has searched his “conscience” and can find no wrong in it, is even worse. It shows yet again that so-called “catholics” of the Fr Flannery mindset seem to have no conscience problems when such blasphemies occur, but God help you if refuse them communion. This matter must be brought to the attention of the diocesan authorities and the Papal Nuncio ASAP!

  • Stephen

    Mr Schlee has just confirmed the crisps will be withdrawn from sale as of today and all stock will be given to charity.

  • Paul

    What a load of cobblers, retailers have down it for years.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    I have received the following reply:

    Dear Nicolas

    We are extremely sorry that the crisp name that we had selected has offended you. This wasn’t our intention. After receiving a number of comments similar to yours, Clive (Pret’s CEO) has taken your advice and decided to remove all of the crisps from our shops with effect from today.

    We will be donating the unsold crisps to homeless charities that we support across the country.

    Thank you for writing. We do listen and we have tried to react quickly

    Kindest Regards

    Gaynor Stocker

    Obviously this was a mistake on their part and I think we should accept that they did not realise the offence it would cause and they should be congratulated on their prompt reply.

    • Brien

      The mistake was acknowledging any religion’s whining and bowing to anachronistic demands from an organisation who panders lies. ie prove the Virgin birth. Everything from religions is hearsay at best – Where is any proof??
      When do you realise the offence that your groups cause to the
      rights of Humans, ie freedom and liberty.
      You are starting to sound like the Islamists.

  • Mel

    I just got a voice message of the CEO Clive Schlee saying they are removing the Virgin Mary after listening to customers, I rang him earlier after reading the comments on here. If Clive keeps his words, then indeed this is a victory for the Church Militant. All thanks and praise to Jesus.

  • Lola

    Thanks for the update @Nicholas and @Stephen. I only received an automated reply but, will wash off my war paint now.

    “Thank you so much for your email; we will be giving it top priority. Sorry about the horrid automated reply but we wanted to let you know that your email reached us. If you’ve asked for a response a more personal one will follow. Whatever you’ve said, it will be added to our weekly report which is passed round the whole company. Clive and the rest of the team pore over it every Tuesday.

    Just to let you know our office is open 9.00-5.30 (UK time), Monday to Friday.

    Best wishes,

    Pret A Manger
    1 Hudson’s Place, London, SW1V 1PZ
    Telephone: 020 7827 8888″

  • John Dare

    How would calling my Jesus be viewed?

  • John Dare

    add ‘son’

  • Spesalvi23

    I need to get a Church Militant T!! I love the one with the pic of Christ: Yes, he can!
    I must admit I find the idea of naming snack food after the Virgin Mary rather stupid.
    Who knows, it might have been s publicity stunt all along.
    Personally, I’m not offended, but I can see how somebody would take offence!

    • John Dare

      Thats the thing spes, as we both know, its easy to be offended if your determined to be. Some people are offended by not being given the chance to be offended ;)

  • Copperline

    Clearly the choice of name for the Crisps at Pret a Manger was ill advised, and I am glad to see that common sense has prevailed however I would make the following comments.

    The Catholic Church in all its wisdom is and continues to try and change our lives however they fail to recognise the years of abuse that has come out of many Christian churches.

    I was fortuanate enough some years ago to to visit the Vatican in all its splendour and marvelled at it orpulence however that very quickly changed when you realise the Vatican actually belongs to the people who have given up their earnings to fund this palace!

    I seem to remember Jesus was just a man of the people with no airs or graces or material wealth!

    We as individuals need to look at that as money and wealth corrupts people and institutions from all walks of life

    When we look at the world today and all its problems much of which is caused by religion !!

    • ms Catholic state

      What are you on about?! The Church has given employment to local artists, craftsmen, artisans, builders, sculptors and labourers throughout Christendom for centuries. If it wasn’t for the Church…all this talent and craftmanship would have been wasted….and families would have gone without.

      And on top of that… no other organisation has quite matched the Church’s artistic and architectural ouput for its richness and glory.

  • Dave Angel

    I’m glad that all the world’s problems have been solved! There is no more war, poverty or discrimination.

    That is the only explanation I can come up with for why any of you idiots are complaining about crisps.

  • [...] Nick Donelly first highlighted this on his popular blog Protect the Pope back on the 30th January: The Pret A Manger sandwich chain have decided to insult their Catholic [...]

  • Brien

    Your religion demeans intelligent thought and insults freedom of speech.

    People of your ilk should be charged with child abuse for brain-washing the minds of innocents with fraudulent ‘truths’.

    And don’t waste our time with hearsay quotes from other believers as these words are not relevant to any issue except to believers.

  • Bazamac

    Shocking that Pret a Manger should cave in to this ludicrous and totally bogus attack by catholic loony tunes. Te day when religions and the religious can no longer dictate to others what they can say or think or call their snacks is long overdue.

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