Food truck owners conduct poll on use of ‘dago’ in name

Thursday, July 25, 2013
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— Is “Wandering Dago” an offensive name for a food truck?

That’s the question the truck’s co-owners, Andrea Loguidice and Brandon Snooks, are posing with a poll on their Facebook page, where people can weigh in on whether the name should be changed. The name has become a popular topic of conversation after the truck was ousted from the Saratoga Race Course last Friday. New York Racing Association spokesman Eric Wing has said the ouster followed complaints about the name.

Snooks said the poll is a way of hearing from a large audience about how they feel. “We’re letting democracy decide,” he said, quickly adding that the results aren’t binding in any way.

At this point, though, he said the poll results overwhelmingly say he shouldn’t change the name. He plans on revealing the final results in a few days.

Comments on the poll vary, with some giving impassioned opinions on both sides of the issue and the rest just saying they enjoy the food.

The Daily Gazette put up a poll on its website, asking people whether it was right for NYRA to kick out the Wandering Dago. By Thursday afternoon, more than 400 votes had been tallied, with more than 80 percent responding that NYRA was wrong.

Hubbub over the name has reached across the ocean, with an article about the food truck’s expulsion from the track appearing in London’s The Daily Mail earlier this week. Snooks said he isn’t surprised, saying, “We’ve had people call us from all over the country.”

While previous instances haven’t created such a ruckus, the name of the food truck has caused them problems in the past, like when they were denied a food vendor license at the Empire State Plaza, which is run by the state’s Office of General Services. Because of a recent NYRA agreement, OGS also is overseeing the Saratoga Race Course, but Snooks didn’t want to speculate on a possible connection.

Asked whether OGS was involved with vendors at the Saratoga Race Course, spokesman Heather Groll responded in an email: “NEVER.”

Wing said he was not familiar with concerns from anyone other than people at the track.

Snooks said he never anticipated the name would cause them to lose business, as the name was chosen only after a search of corporations registered with the state showed four other corporations had the phrase “dago” in the name. He was aware the name would possibly cause controversy, but said, “We didn’t set out to make anybody unhappy and we’re not breaking any laws.”

The expulsion could lead to a legal battle, which Snooks said he is trying to avoid. He said the contract with Centerplate, a contractor hired by NYRA to oversee food at the track, requires they get 30 days’ notice before being forced to leave. They were notified on opening day that they had to get out.

“The last thing we want to do is sue the racetrack. We love the racetrack,” Snooks said.

A local Centerplate official did not respond to a request for an interview.

Since leaving the racetrack, the Wandering Dago has been searching for other business to offset the summer’s lost revenue. Snooks said it will be impossible to completely recoup the possible revenue from the track, but said they have booked a few events.

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July 26, 2013
8:17 a.m.
reader122 says...

Younger people often don't know that a few decades ago the term "dago" was considered very offensive. Older people remember. The Facebook poll can be misleading because more younger people use Facebook than older people. So the poll results will not really reflect the local population. If I were the owners of the business I wouldn't use the term "dago" when there are much more positive expressions to reflect Italian heritage. In business, you have to be very aware of customers' opinions and feelings even if you don't always agree with them.

As the owner of a local business that grew into a significantly larger one, I would NEVER use a term that even a tiny number of people objected to. Every customer counts on the way to success.

July 26, 2013
11:26 a.m.
Leilalindi says...

What about the Gazette poll that showed 80% didn't agree with the NYRA decision? Does that not reflect local opinion either?

July 26, 2013
11:49 a.m.
reader1 says...

reader122 - well put.

July 26, 2013
1:13 p.m.
dagiacalone says...

No serious newspaper ever suggests that their online polls are representative of the public in general, or even their own readers, and I'm pretty sure the Gazette does not take its polls seriously. Those who respond are self-selecting and usually participate because they feel strongly on one side or the other; some vote more than once. The questions are at times not structured so that either Yes or No accurately reflects the opinion of thoughtful readers.
There is no reason for WD to think its poll results will reflect a good, representative sample of the public. Because you have to be signed up to Facebook to vote, it is fairly likely that those voting will be predominantly its fans.
Although I know that "dago" was once very offensive, I personally do not think the name should be a sufficient reason to keep Wandering Dago out of the Track. They might have made the business decision that the brand will attract more customers than it repels. It certainly has gotten them more media attention than they could have ever hoped for.
Most etymologists believe that "dago" morphed from the word "diego", which is Spanish for James. (James the Greater is the patron saint of Spain.) Five hundred years ago, it was used to designate a Spaniard, and over the centuries was used for people from Spain, Portugal, Italy or Latin America. By 1900 it was used in the USA mostly to designate Italians, probably because they were by far the largest of those groups immigrating to the USA.
I wish people would be a lot less sensitive to ethnic nicknames in general, especially when they are not being used in an angry or disparaging context. It's about time "dago" and similar ethnic phrases lose their sting. Save our anger -- or maybe just our pity -- for those who use the term in order to demean an individual or ethnic group.

July 26, 2013
1:44 p.m.
irene58 says...

Wonder how many bars across the globe are named "Drunken Irishman"..... Like anything else, it's about the food, or it should be. If people find it offensive, they don't have to patronize it.

July 26, 2013
7:01 p.m.
pnotto says...

I give a lot of credit to dagiacalone for your candor and honest representation of this term and doing your homework about where the term 'dago' originated from. Another way the term came to prominence was during the second wave of Italian immigrants coming to the US from Italy and they worked at laborious jobs they agreed to be paid "as the day goes by" by the employer and the term became 'dago' and thus stuck describing a group of laborers as individuals in a positive way for someone to hire when they needed heavy work completed because they were trustworthy and dependable. This term only became a racial issue when the American Left took a false cause of being outraged by this term that had only one meaning to describe a group of people with no racial or ethnic overtones, thus adding a racial overtone to it created strife and division among people in this country to push an agenda that pitted one group against another. The reason being is the good heartened Liberals noticed the popularity of this group of laborers and needed to put a stop to it because they were taking away unionized jobs from Democrats because they worked cheap and did a better job than the dead wait union workers. Thus you create a fake notion to get division among these people that causes in fighting among them to not work for certain employers to safe way the jobs of Democrats who belong to unions. Another way to stop these immigrants from getting employment when they had to apply to private individual businesses the immigrant(s) was usually met with a sign in the window of the business that said "Italians need not apply for employment". So once this was investigated it was determined an overwhelming percentage of the business owners were Democrats who supported leftist causes to protect union workers. So who are the racist bigots in this description. Another term people forget about is the term "WOP" which originated during the first wave of Italian immigrants who came to the US. They could not get a visa or now called a green card to enter the country to get gainful employment. This group of Italian immigrants would grow old waiting at Ellis Island and other detention centers to be cleared by the INS department to enter the country. So as a way around this bureaucracy was for the relatives of the immigrants in waiting already in the country as citizens was to payoff a person of prominence who was usually a doctor, politician, lawyer, a clergyman or other highly regarded person to sign a document stating they knew the immigrant and the person would monitor his/her actions by working for the person directly. The immigrant would be issued a temporary visa that was stamped "AWOP" or a person who can be "Allowed to Work Without Papers". Thus another urban legend was born in the term WOP.

July 26, 2013
7:02 p.m.
pnotto says...

Continued from above:
These people needed to do this to better their lives and only the Left like we see in rearer1 making an issue of this. As a person of Italian heritage from a second generation of "WOP'S" from Italy, myself, my family and the rest of my paesan's are not in anyway offended by these terms used to describe our people. People need to stop being so knee jerk reactionary, self righteous and relax life is to short. The only people or hypocrites who waste their time getting all bunged up about this issue is the phony people who are Leftist's who bring this garbage up to push this nonsense of fake outrage they claim to have just to push an agenda of hate and division of the American people. The Left who are behind the PC movement use it to shut down debate and free speech who oppose these hate mongers on the Left in other ways by creating this division as we see in the US with other race baiters/hustlers like rearder1. Thus we see people on the Left trying to prevent citizens of this state from accessing the free market which is a brand of censorship and is a violation of their civil rights which hypocrites and liars like rearer1 sanction. The Left such as we see with the fake phoney caring attitudes of reader1 and other phony hypocrites on their side of the aisle do not speak for my people and thank God for this.

July 26, 2013
7:03 p.m.
pnotto says...

Continuing on: Only people like reader1 and other Libs bring this stuff up and say they are the only ones to discuss the issue of racism and bigotry because they care more than others do about these issues. They just use these facades to cause friction among people and add fuel to the fire and its obvious of who is really behind the hate mongering in the US. My people and other immigrants came to this country for a better life. My grandparents came to the US with no money and a desire for freedom of economic success. They did not speak English and did not receive a welfare check from the government. They either worked or they starved. It was that simple! My grandfather learned to speak English and read and write this language. He learned to be a mason and did other back breaking work. My grandmother took in the wash, cooked, cleaned and did day care for the people who hired my grandfather as a way to say thank you for allowing his family to be in this country and put food on the table. Due to people like caring and good heartened people like reader1 during the depression, my grandparents almost starved because no one would hire them because of favoritism toward unions and the Democratic party. Reader1, it is not up to you or any of your hypocrite Leftist buds who can run a business in this state or country. If people don't like the term the business is called then don't patronize it. If the business has quality service and food then it will blossom and succeed. Through personal knowledge and as a client the Wandering Dago is a business run by quality people who offer a great product. This is why people like reader1 who claims to be a business owner and other hypocrites on the Left need to shut down these peoples right to make a living by legal gain because they are the competition and have to use unsavory methods to run these people off of the map. Shame on you hypocrites like reader1! You want to look at the real sponsor's of hate and division in the US, reader1 and all of your minions you just need to look in the mirror.

July 26, 2013
7:11 p.m.
pnotto says...

Heres a small example of the hate the left spreads like rearer1.

July 26, 2013
10:35 p.m.
cheeseburger says...

could be called the hopping wop or the happy greaseball .we used to call the patio the ginny/o. it was all in fun.

July 26, 2013
11:42 p.m.
pnotto says...

Its just a name being used...Whats next to say the University of Notre Dame can't use the Fighting Irish moniker??? When does this nonsense end....

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