Rocking chairs in front of a Cracker Barrel restaurant with a rainbow filter

‘Cracker Barrel Has Fallen’: Dark Day for Bigots as Southern Chain Puts Rainbows on Rocking Chairs

The right has been in a somber mood since Thursday, and not just because their chosen one became the first president to be indicted on federal charges, which they don’t seem too shook up about. Nope, it’s because popular southern restaurant chain Cracker Barrel posted rainbows on their Instagram account.

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“We take no pleasure in reporting that @CrackerBarrel has fallen,” the Texas Family Project posted on twitter, with all the overwrought drama you’d expect from a trivial loss in a manufactured war. “A once family friendly establishment has caved to the mob.”

The news reverberated through the right-wing echo chamber, causing widespread and wildly disproportionate levels of angst. “It is with deep sadness that I am posting this because I have always loved Cracker Barrel. However, I Love My Country and My God More!!” posted some white lady. “Cracker Barrel went woke,” bemoaned someone with the handle @EndWokeness.

I guess it’s understandable that they’re upset, given that it wasn’t that long ago that Cracker Barrel was fighting for their side, infamously firing employees for being gay in the 1990s. But times have changed, and Cracker Barrel has now joined the ranks of companies like Bud Light who are making the marketing calculation that LGBTQ people and their allies live and spend money all over the country, and it would actually be in the best interest of their bottom line to paper over that homophobic past with a little colorful paint and some vague words about inclusion.

“We are excited to celebrate Pride Month with our employees and guests. Everyone is always welcome at our table (and our [rainbow emoji] rocker). Happy Pride!” proclaimed Cracker Barrel’s social media team. And just like that, the gays won an invitation to eat biscuits and Salisbury steak in a southern chain restaurant that idealizes a time when they had no rights. Yay?

It is literally just a photo of a brightly painted rocking chair and a promise that “everyone is welcome,” implying that “everyone” includes LGBTQ folks. Oh, the horror if you’re a cisgender, straight person who cares way too much about what other people do! Someone might have to eat their mass-produced food and play checkers on an old-timey rug without knowing whether the ladies at the next table are a Christian book club or lesbian squad planning a takeover of the local library story time. Imagine.

And now queerphobic conservatives are promising to boycott until Cracker Barrel … what, takes down its barely supportive post? Starts checking genitals at the door? It’s unclear what the goal is here aside from wanting LGBTQ people to stop existing.

But at least “the mob” is having fun at their expense in the meantime, erupting in fits of uncontrollable giggles over the ridiculous phrase “Cracker Barrel has fallen.”

This wasn’t even Cracker Barrel’s first foray into rainbow washing, a term that refers to the use of pride gimmicks to score unearned ally points. The company has participated in the Nashville Pride parade since at least 2017.

Yes, it’s true, Christian bigots have been been enjoying their “woke” pancakes for more than half a decade already, without even noticing. It’s almost like eating alongside people who might not share their beliefs has had no effect on their lives whatsoever.

(featured image: frankieleon, CC license, filter added)


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Erika Wittekind
Erika Wittekind (she/her) is a contributing writer covering politics and news and has two decades of experience in local news reporting, freelance writing, and nonfiction editing. Her hobbies and special interests include hiking, dancing in the kitchen, trying to raise empathetic teen boys, and keeping plants alive. Find her on Mastodon at @erikalyn.newsie.social.