Fast-food corporation Yum! Brands debuted its prototype bánh mì shop just a week ago in Dallas, so while it’s way too soon to tell if it will revolutionize Vietnamese sandwiches, it’s as good a time as ever to point out that its new logo is very problematic for Vietnamese Americans. Banh Shop’s prominent use of an enormous, five-pointed red star is, for some, reminiscent of Vietnam’s communist regime, so now the Taco Bell parent company is being called on to make some adjustments.
Texas has the second-highest population of Vietnamese Americans in the country, and the Dallas-Fort Worth area was home to the the fourth largest Vietnamese community, according to the 2010 census. “The majority of Vietnamese living overseas are refugees from the Vietnam War. They hate the Vietnamese communist government, and, really, communism in general,” writes Charles Lam of the O.C. Weekly. Beyond the references to communism, criticism of the restaurant extends to its “Saigon Street Food” motto, which they argue is exploitative.
“My grandfather was a prisoner of war for 10 years,” one Facebook user points out. “If you’re going to use the communist star in your logo, then please stop calling them Saigon banh mi. You’re just insulting Vietnamese Americans by associating Saigon with the communist symbol,” writes another, referring to the fall of Saigon.
“The fact that Yum! Brands stuck a red communist star into their logo is unbelievable – there’s just no other way to put it,” Lam writes. The parent company, which is also simultaneously testing an upmarket taco concept and a would-be Chick-Fil-A competitor, clearly missed something crucial in its focus group rounds. Reps for the restaurant, which bills itself as serving “Instagram worthy food,” hasn’t yet responded to critics.