What's in a name?
In the highly competitive world of food trucks, a catchy name can make all the difference between a person stopping for a bite or moving on to the next thing. If it's clever or even a bit PG-13, so much the better to catch people's attention.
Which helps explains why when San Antonio resident Candie Yoder needed a name to describe her Korean fried chicken truck she settled on CockAsian. It succinctly describes the cuisine (Asian-inspired) and who's preparing it (a Caucasian).
"CockAsian to us is a word that has boundless meanings none of which are sexual or a racial slur."
Unfortunately, the officials at the Port of San Antonio don't think Yoder's name is so clever. They decided to prohibit the truck from serving at the facility, citing its offensive name as a reason.
Yoder took to her Facebook page to protest the decision. "Unfortunately our name was deemed too risque for Port SA so we will not be there on Thursday," Yoder writes. "It makes me sad that the spoken and written word are the most censored forms of art. CockAsian to us is a word that has boundless meanings none of which are sexual or a racial slur."
The Port cited a high Google search ranking for the name on UrbanDictionary.com as one of the reasons for its decision, although the media frenzy that has erupted in the wake of the decision has pushed the San Antonio food truck to the top. All thanks to the controversy setting off a media frenzy, drawing attention from Eater, Fox News, Yahoo and others.
Looking for a little local perspective, CultureMap turned to Pi Pizza Truck owner Anthony Calleo. With a dual bachelor's degree in Philosophy and Theology from the University of St. Thomas, Calleo is a bit of a deep thinker when it comes to marketing his truck. He's also printed up shirts that read "Pi Pizza Truck don't give a fuck," so he knows a little about offending people.
"Food truck owners should be prepared that if they do something risky that people might not like it," Calleo tells CultureMap. "What's more important? Doing what you want to do or walking a real fine line?
"It's more important to me to do what I want. That doesn't mean I should do whatever I want with branding and things. We'd be a lot more outlandish than we are (if I did)."
In terms of the shirts, Calleo says it grew out of a joke between him and his staff. "Oh, it's raining and 30 degrees outside? Pizza truck don't give a fuck. It's an anthropomorphization of the truck not caring. I decided to make it a shirt."
Over the year that he's sold approximately 200 shirts, Calleo has found three reactions: Those who are excited about it, those who are indifferent towards it and those who are offended by it. "The people who are really pissed? Fuck 'em. It's cool. You don't have to buy my pizza. For every one of you who won't buy my pizza, there are two other categories," Calleo says.
At the end of the day, Calleo is like any other small business owner. "I want to be happy. I want to be me. I want to have integrity in the representation of my brand. Either you get it or you don't," he concludes.
That's true whether someone is caucasian or cockasian.