Daiquiri name ignites backlash

Protesters react to the Daiquiri Factorys drink Date Grape Kool-Aid.

Photo by Sam Sargeant

Protesters react to the Daiquiri Factory’s drink “Date Grape Kool-Aid.”

By Kate Daniel, Eagle Life Editor

The Downtown Spokane Daiquiri Factory has created a stir on both local and national platforms in response to its daiquiri by the name of “Date Grape Kool-Aid.”

On Jan. 31, the bar debuted a sneak-peek of its drink menu, via its Facebook page, in anticipation of its Feb. 1 opening. Almost immediately, community members began voicing opposition to the drink name, stating that it normalizes rape culture and trivializes the experiences of those who have been sexually assaulted. Many commenters urged the business to change the name in order to rectify the situation.

One commenter, Jaime Cheeka, cited statistics from Brown University’s health education web page, noting the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses, specifically. According to the study, “55 percent of female students and 75 percent of male students involved in acquaintance rape admit to having been drinking or using drugs when the incident occurred and 90 percent of all campus rapes occur when alcohol has been used by either the assailant or the victim.”

The Daiquiri Factory responded to critics online by stating that the inspiration for the drink name came from the Urban Dictionary definition of “date grape” and was not in fact a reference to sexual assault. The bar provided a link to the entry, which defined the term as the act of having sex while drunk on wine. Some online commenters also pointed to a Mad TV sketch which incorporated the term. The definition in Urban Dictionary online has since been deleted.

“It’s the name of a drink. Not meant to offend, for you to overuse your imagination,” the Daiquiri Factory posted on its Facebook page on the evening of Jan. 31. “Just like everything in life, you’re either going to like it or don’t. … There is a thing called fun and a thing called reading way off and beyond the lines.”

Several commenters implored bar owner Jamie Pendleton to change the drink name and said their requests were met with criticism. Some later stated that the Daiquiri Factory had responded in ways that were disrespectful to survivors of sexual assault. The majority of Facebook comments from both the Daiquiri Factory and commenters had been deleted by Feb. 7.

On the bar’s opening night, many community members assembled to protest the drink name and the business’ unapologetic stance.

“It’s something that continues to be a problem,” Taylor Malone, EWU alumnus and protest organizer, told KXLY. “People take our experiences, they take our trauma and they turn it into something trivial or meaningless. They turn it into some kind of joke and expect us to be OK with it and just to get over it. Rape is something that changes people’s lives.”

On the morning of Feb. 8, the bar posted a status update to its Facebook page declaring, “We are going to grape the entire city of Spokane tonight, one grape at a time. We will grape your sister. We will grape your mother, your brother, your cousin.” Malone organized a second community protest on the evening of Feb. 8.

At the protest on Feb. 1, The EWU Scary Feminists group held a sign suggesting alternative drink names such as “Lickable Lavender,” which they described as “sexual but not rapey.”

Kraft, which owns the Kool-Aid brand, issued a statement which said the company is “appalled.” “Kool-Aid does not support or condone this drink and finds its name to be highly insensitive to a serious issue,” Kool-Aid spokesperson Caroline Krajewski said in a written statement. “This blatant misuse of the Kool-Aid trademark is offensive to so many, including us.”

Other companies have been contacted by protesters regarding possible trademark infringement due to the bar’s use of the company name for items on the menu or use of its logo in advertising. These companies include Victoria’s Secret, Spokane Shock, Seattle Seahawks, Match.com and the Rolling Stones.

Pendleton, who also owns local radio station 104.5 Jamz, declined comment to The Easterner on multiple occasions.

Alicia Richardson, sophomore at Evergreen State College, voiced her opinion that the drink name is crude and proves that many people do not take sexual violence seriously.

“To make a pun about something that will affect about 80 percent of women on the planet is anything but OK. The fact that it is a bar instilling rape culture is even more upsetting, especially when many club-hoppers are unsure about what consent really is,” she said. “Judge G. Todd Bough finally got a complaint filed against him for the Cherice Morales case and this drink is a slap in the face to both survivors and the … people who will be raped next year if this flippancy continues. If you are not mad, you are not paying attention.”

Others, including EWU junior Derick Sampson, have voiced support for the business.

“While I have never been in your establishment, I can already tell it is a fun and energetic place in Spokane that people of all ages, over 21 of course, can enjoy themselves. Yes, while the name of that drink is a play on words, people should not get offended,” he wrote on the bar’s Facebook page.

On Feb. 5, the Daiquiri Factory posted a status update online boasting that it had sold 10 gallons of the grape-flavored beverage on opening night.

“Why apologize for something everyone else did,” the Daiquiri Factory stated in another online post. “We didn’t promote rape. … We simply made a daiquiri.”

Jessica Willis, EWU professor of women’s studies, said that the name “Date Grape” is “seriously problematic” and explained that language is a powerful conveyor of cultural meaning. According to Willis, the question is not whether or not the drink name is disrespectful but what cultural ideas the establishment wants to profit from.

“There is power in people recognizing that consumption of products, from start to finish, intersects with the endorsement of social practices,” she said. “Sexual assault is widespread in the U.S. and around the world. To make light of sexual assault or a parody of sexual violence is to endorse its continued proliferation in society.”

“I want participatory action, slogans and plans toward harm reduction, not overpriced, sugary, insensitive slush,” Richardson said. “If it is just a name, then there shouldn’t be any problem changing it to better support every man and woman of Spokane in creating a safe space, one that understands there’s nothing funny about sexual violence.”

Update: The Spokane Downtown Daiquiri Factory Facebook page referenced in this story had been deleted as of Feb. 10, 2014. As of Feb. 14, 2014, a new Facebook page for the business had been created.