As part of my annual trip to Iowa for family camp and visiting relatives and friends, I make a point of going to go to the Iowa State Fair. I enjoy wandering around, looking at the cows, the horses, etc. The first stop was to get a funnel cake. We bought two from a concession right on the Main Concourse in front of the Varied Industries building. Unfortunately, we picked the concession stand run by three 14 year olds who didn’t know how to make funnel cakes. Mine was thick, doughy, and undercooked. The funnel cake is supposed to resemble lace. This one resembled a thick rope. I took it back after a few bites and got my money back.
We go through the Varied Industries building and usually find interesting things. Not so much this year. There seemed to be about six hot tub displays in the building, which seemed excessive to us. Usually there’s a piano store booth with several pianos where my son can play for a few minutes, but this booth was gone. We said hi to the people at the booth for the Iowa Association of Regular Baptists, and even ran into one of the missionaries from our previous week at family camp. Other than this booth (and the two right to life booths), there really wasn’t much that interested me. I thought maybe one or more of the presidential candidates might have a booth set up, but I couldn’t find one.
Then we went to find more food. We found another funnel cake booth and got a replacement one (and an elephant ear), and I went to get my annual “Guinea Grinder.” This is a hoagie bun with hot sausage and mozzarella cheese and I look forward to it every year. It’s the only thing I really eat that is spicy. I approached the location of the stand (right by the public restrooms….coincidence?) and saw that they had changed the name to “Jenny Grinder”. What? I asked the guy, “When did you change the name?” He said, “We didn’t. One person complained, and now we can’t call it that anymore. But that’s still what it is.”
Evidently the word “Guinea” is a racial slur against Italians. I’m guessing because Italian sausage is used in the sandwich, but I’m not sure. I looked up the word “Guinea” and found out that the basis of the insult is that it implies the Italian person is too dark skinned to be a white person, and may in fact come from the Guinea region of Africa (West Africa). So the whole reason the term is offensive is that it compares a white person to a black person? In the post-civil rights, racial equality world in which we live, why is it still offensive to be compared to a black person. I am offended that someone would be offended by this. I’m sorry, but are we going to change the name of the country of Guinea? Guinea-Bissau? Equatoreal Guinea? Papua New Guinea? Guinea pigs? No? Then leave my guinea grinder alone.
I said, “one please” and handed him my money. He handed me the sandwich with a knowing look, and I said, “Thanks for the guinea grinder.” He smiled and said, “You’re welcome.” I ate quickly, because we needed to get out of there since it was “Eastsider Night” and we didn’t want to get stabbed.
Look, people, leave the names of things alone. If there’s a really good reason for changing the name of something, then by all means do so. If you own the thing named, go ahead and call it whatever you want. But don’t walk around insisting that other people change the names of things because your sensibilities are offended.
My guinea grinder was delicious.