All across America, people are learning that it’s remarkably easy to get rid of a statue of a Confederate or colonizer. You just pull that sucker down and stash it in a museum for safekeeping. Or maybe you just smash it to pieces. The city of Columbus, Ohio, has already planned to remove the statue of Christopher Columbus that currently stands in front of city hall and has asked the city Arts Commission to “reimagine” the city flag and seal, which depict the original fleet of ships that brought Columbus to the Americas.
Names, however, are more problematic. To rename a city requires a wholesale rebranding. Columbus is not only one of the biggest cities in Ohio, it’s also the state capital and home of the main branch of Ohio State. But one devoted citizen, Tyler Woodbridge, has a plan. And also a petition. Why not rename the city to celebrate one of its native sons, known for his charitable works as well as his celebrity? Why not name it... Flavortown?
Yes, I was also surprised that Guy Fieri was born in Columbus. Both his Food Network bio and the “Guyography” on his website fail to mention his Midwestern roots altogether; his Wikipedia entry notes that although he spent his infancy in Ohio, he actually grew up in Ferndale, California, where at age 10, he started his first food venture, the Awesome Pretzel Cart.
Nonetheless, that’s more of a connection than Christopher Columbus ever had. (Columbus himself, the petition notes, “is in The Bad Place because of all his raping, slave trading, and genocide. That’s not exactly a proud legacy.”) Plus, Guy Fieri has raised more than $20 million for restaurant workers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and he has performed more than 100 LGBTQ weddings. “That kind of optimism and charitable work embodies more of what Columbus, Ohio, is about rather than the tarnished legacy of Christopher Columbus,” Woodbridge told CNN.
More importantly, Flavortown is a superior name because, in the words of the petition, “it honors Central Ohio’s proud heritage as a culinary crossroads and one of the nation’s largest test markets for the food industry.”
The petition already has more than 23,000 signatures and counting. It’s funkalicious! It’s off the hook! It’s the real deal! Let’s hear it for Flavortown, Ohio!