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Parmigiano Reggiano Prickly Over Porn Reference


Adult website Pornhub learned a valuable lesson this week after releasing its new video campaign: do not mess with cheese people. To announce the launch of its subscription service “Pornhub Premium,” the website released a series of video ads, one of which in particular rubbed the Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Consortium the wrong way. The fairly tame video campaign features a couple shopping in the cheese section of their local grocery store; the husband suggests buying an aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, dubbing it the “Pornhub Premium of cheeses.” The ad’s been taken down on most video-hosting websites, but you can take a look for yourself via Adland (and yes, it’s safe for work).

The Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Consortium is considering taking legal action against the website and is investigating whether they have the grounds to sue. On Wednesday, the PRCC released a statement accusing the advert of being “not only distasteful and unacceptable, but offensive for our producers and their work.” Since the video’s ultimate goal is to make money off of its new subscription service, it’s not preposterous for some cheesemakers to take offense to the connection drawn in the ad. However, in the statement the PRCC takes an interesting stance in noting how Pornhub’s campaign is “vulgarly aimed at making a profit from the exploitation of the fame gained by Parmigiano-Reggiano.” While the wording might seem a bit strange, it reveals the true reason behind the dispute: word choice.

Under Italian (and European) law, the name of the famous grating cheese has Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, so only cheeses made in Parma, Reggio Emilia, and Bologna are allowed to officially be called “Parmigiano-Reggiano.” (Just like Champagne can only come from Champagne, France—read all about it in our handy breakdown.) Since the ad campaign uses the protected term rather than the generic “parmesan,” the cheese referred to by the man in the ad is not the general style but the very specific, legally regulated Italian cheese.

For the official Parm people, the unauthorized use of the term is not only disrespectful but harms the prestigious name and image of their product. For others, the lawsuit is yet another ridiculous step toward universal regulation of a name that’s as commonplace as peanut butter and jelly.

So where do you stand? Is Pornhub smearing the good name of Parm-Regg with its smut, or is the website take a stand for freedom of cheese?

Featured Photo Credit (Edited): “Parmigiano reggiano on wooden background, close-up.” by Lukas Godja | shutterstock.com and “Censored bars in black and red” by milo827 | shutterstock.com

Julian Plovnick

Julian is a die-hard dairy lover from the Boston area, working for culture this summer as an editorial intern. When not studying English at Vassar College, Julian can be found binge-watching Top Chef (quiz him on any season and he’ll know the elimination order, no joke), refilling his coffee IV, or researching new ways to incorporate ricotta into his life.

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