Update, October 25, 2019: Following Hollywood’s Instagram apology for his diabetes remark, Deadline reports that the joke has been cut from both the Channel 4 repeats of the episode in the U.K. and the U.S. version of the episode, which arrives on Netflix today. According to the charity Diabetes UK, which encouraged Love Productions to remove the joke, the producers are spreading the word to their company about how to avoid making similarly insensitive comments in the future.
Original story, October 24, 2019: Just in time for Halloween, “Diabetes on a plate” has left us to join its colleague “crack pie” in the Distasteful Food Phrase Graveyard. Its passage is mourned by hardly anyone. The phrase was done in this week by The Great British Baking Show judge Paul Hollywood, who proclaimed a contestant’s too-sweet dessert “diabetes on a plate.” He later apologized in an Instagram post yesterday.
Hollywood’s post was captioned in part: “a remark re:- diabetes I made on tonight’s show was thoughtless and I meant no harm, as both my grandad and my own mother suffer/ suffered from diabetes ... apologies X.” Some of the show’s U.K. viewers, who were able to see the show yesterday while we Americans must wait until tomorrow before it hits Netflix, criticized Hollywood’s original remark as callous. Many took to Twitter to explain that Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition that begins in childhood and is not caused by sugar intake or dietary choices.
Most tweeters didn’t take offense at Hollywood’s remarks but instead sought to clarify that diabetes isn’t simply caused by too much sugar in one’s diet. The phrase “diabetes on a plate” has always leaned on this hackneyed and incorrect assumption, and it’s encouraging to see it fall by the wayside. Like “crack pie” and “ethnic food,” it’s sloppy and lazy. The English language contains hundreds of mellifluous and prepossessing words to describe food. Let’s challenge ourselves to use them.