A woman who lost her family to the Nazi regime has told how she was left shaken after a London cafe tried to justify selling a “Nutzy” smoothie which had a swastika on the label.
The drink was being sold at Nincomsoup, which is inside the Old Street Tube Station in east London, until the woman confronted staff and complained to the Campaign Against Antisemitism.
The unnamed customer revealed her encounter with cafe staff over the drink left her “almost in tears and shivering as it proved to me how much antisemitism and fascism is still utterly present”.
The cafe has since removed the drink and fired the “rogue employee” responsible.
The customer told the Campaign Against Antisemitism that the store’s manager explained the offensive image on the bottle was “an inverted swastika which was a Hindu symbol of health and prosperity”.
The woman added that when she asked the manager about the name of the drink he told her it was a “play on ‘having the nuts’, meaning ‘having the courage’ and was a pun as the drink contains nuts”.
She said she told the manager the labelling was offensive and was then asked why. “I responded that I lost my family to the Nazi regime and that despite the Hindu use of the symbol, this along with the name of the drink was extremely offensive. He said that London is a free city.”
The woman added: “That man had no shame whatsoever to tell me that I should not be offended by what I saw, when the use of the swastika and the name of that drink is clearly not a coincidence.”
The following day volunteers working for Campaign Against Anti-Semitism inspected the shop and found the drink was out of stock.
The following Monday the charity said the drink was again available for purchase but the “swastika had bizarrely been replaced with an image of the Pope waving”.
The charity then complained to the shop’s landlord, Transport for London, and informed the media.
A spokesperson for the charity said: “It beggars belief that this shop created a Nazi-branded drink by unwitting coincidence. The Nazis murdered six million Jewish men, women and children during the Second World War as well as almost half a million people from Britain alone in the most devastating war and genocide ever committed. It was unavoidable that this would be immensely offensive to Jewish people and anyone who lost members of their family to Nazi brutality.”
The Sun reported that it tried to speak with the shop’s manager but was referred to a barista who was said to have designed it.
The newspaper said he refused to apologise and referred to the Hindu origins of the symbol and the fact the drink contained nuts.
“I certainly have sympathy – but I don’t make any apology. It is something that was misunderstood,” The Sun quoted him as saying.
“‘Of course, ‘Nutzy’ has a play on ‘Nazi’, but it can also be for ‘nuts’ or ‘courageous’. It depends how it is interpreted.”
The founder of Nincomsoup, Ben Page-Phillips, has since issued an apology.
In a statement he wrote: “Sadly, an employee deemed it appropriate to put a Swastika on a smoothie named ‘The Nutzy’.
“This was unsanctioned and the bottles were removed immediately upon being alerted by our shop manager. Needless to say the rogue employee has been dismissed. This was incomprehensible, extremely insensitive, and upsetting to all of us. We unreservedly apologise.”