I've been eating at The Blue Parrot in Louisville (a very cute little town north of Denver that is rapidly becoming a suburb) since I was a little kid. Other peoples' little kids have been eating there since 1919, when Michael and Emira Colacci decided to open a restaurant to serve spaghetti to their fellow Italian coal miners. Their family runs the place to this day. My grandfather, being Italian, a former coal miner and a former bar owner, loved The Blue Parrot.
Also since 1919, there has been an item on the menu called the Wop Burger. I never thought anything of it. After all, the Colaccis were Wops. We were Wops. So there was a Wop Burger. Made perfect sense to me.
Apparently, it didn't make sense to one James Gambino, who apparently moved here from New York and found the Wop Burger offensive. (The name, not the burger itself. As far as I know.) He confronted the Colaccis and demanded that the name be changed.
Joe Colacci, age 90, instructed the next generation of Colaccis to leave the Wop Burger alone and "show him the door" if he complained again.
Not content with the door, Gambino complained to the National Italian American Federation in Washington DC, who wrote the Colaccis a letter "informing" these Italian Americans, whose family has served Italian Americans for nearly 90 years, that "Wop" is an offensive term to Italian Americans.
Not to this Italian American, it's not.
I've been a Wop my entire life. It's never been an offensive term in my world. My grandfather Dante Bonacci, who came from Italy to Colorado via Ellis Island in 1913, used the word all the time. We were Wops. I know the word was initially intended to be insulting (it stood for "with out papers", implying Italian immigrants were here illegally). But the Italians I knew embraced it and made it a term of endearment. And that's how I grew up. I was an adult before I knew there had ever been negative connotations associated with the word.
The Colaccis were holding firm to the Wop Burger, until the Boulder County School District called. The district buys sauce from the Colaccis for their lunch program. They informed Richard Colacci that the district is proud of its stance on ethnic equity, and that the Wop Burger just wasn't kosher (my word, not theirs) in their world. They asked him to rename the item. They didn't flat-out threaten to stop ordering the sauce, but the implication was there.
And so the Wop Burger is now the Italian Burger.
And that makes me kind of sad.