By this point you’ve probably heard of the Ajinomoto company, both because it’s the preeminent manufacturer of MSG and because, as MSG enthusiasts, we’ve written about it here before. What you might not know is that in addition to peddling its delectable crystalized umami powder Ajinomoto has been helping to highlight the various ways in which Asian restaurants—and the Asian community in the United States—are struggling.
While it’s true that restaurants of all kinds are shuttered, with many of them likely to never reopen, Asian restaurants in particular have been devastated. Part of that is due to idiosyncrasies related to staffing and wholesale food distribution, but another significant factor is straight up old-school racism, which has decreased business across the United States.
To help combat this Ajinomoto has recruited actor Harry Shum Jr. (Glee, Crazy Rich Asians), comedian Margaret Cho, writer and comedian Jenny Yang, and Top Chef judge Gail Simmons for a new campaign called #TakeOutHate. The goal is to help drive business toward Asian restaurants that are still open by increasing their visibility, namely by having diners (such as yourselves) order takeout from your favorite Asian restaurant and then post online using the hashtag #TakeOutHate. You see someone else eating delicious Asian takeout, it inspires others to do the same, and everyone wins.
While it’s clear this isn’t an entirely altruistic venture on the part of Ajinomoto, (which is, after all, trying to sell as much MSG at possible), the company has been increasingly stepping in to combat harmful stereotypes directed at Asian-owned food businesses. The Takeout has previously written about Ajinomoto’s campaign to change the dictionary definition of the extremely problematic “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome,” and the #TakeOutHate campaign says that they’re also donating to “the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a nonprofit that has supported Asian Americans across the United States for over 40 years and continues to offer their essential services during the COVID outbreak.”