Guy Fieri once branded himself the “mayor of Flavortown,” and an abundance of the chef’s fans hope his native state will use that title for an unorthodox tribute.
As of Monday afternoon, an online petition calling for Ohio officials to change the name of the Buckeye State’s capital city from Columbus to “Flavortown” had drawn more than 34,000 signatures.
The petition’s creator, Tyler Woodbridge, said the purpose of the proposed change is “twofold.”
“For one, 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 31-year-old wrote. “Secondly, cheflebrity Guy Fieri was born in Columbus, so naming the city in honor of him (he’s such a good dude, really) would be superior to its current nomenclature.”
Woodbridge, who lived in Columbus for seven years but has since relocated to Tennessee, told CNN he “was always a bit ashamed” of the name of his favorite city.
“We as a culture in America are waking up to how bad of a person [Christopher Columbus] was,” he said. “Now is the time for progressiveness. It’s a time for change.”
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and other city officials have yet to respond to the petition. The plan already appears to have the support of Budweiser, however, which cheekily vowed to provide Bud Light Seltzer for residents if the name change takes effect.
The suggestion comes days after Columbus State Community College dismantled the statue of Columbus that had been displayed at the school’s downtown campus for more than 30 years.
David Harrison, the college’s president, described the move as a “symbolic gesture” to “continue and accelerate the fight against systemic racism.” The statue will be relocated to an art exhibition elsewhere on campus.
A second statue of the explorer, displayed at City Hall, is also expected to be removed.
Fieri, 52, was born in Columbus, but spent most of his formative years in Ferndale, California. In 2017, the host of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” surprised staff at Columbus’ Riverside Methodist Hospital when he popped by to visit the maternity ward where he was born.
As for “Flavortown,” Fieri has said he coined the word in an off-the-cuff discussion about pizza. Since then, it’s taken on a life of its own, inspiring a popular fan site that serves as a guide to many of the restaurants featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
“Ten-plus years ago, I’m there in a diner, and I said to the guy — he made a pizza, I think — ‘That looks like a manhole cover in Flavortown.’ Because of how big it is,” he told The Wrap last year.
“People are residents of Flavortown, and I’m the mayor of Flavortown,” he added. “I can send you pictures of all the Flavortown signs and banners and badges and T-shirts, and everybody that says there’s a whole society of Flavortown residents.”
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