The East of Chicago Pizza store in Barberton, Ohio, is known for its cheeky billboards. But its last one made light of human trafficking, taking things a touch too far for locals.
The store’s owner, Jeremy Clemetson, said the “fat people are harder to kidnap” sign was never meant to offend anyone.
“I have seven kids of my own so once the human trafficking aspect came up, I took it down,” Clemetson told CNN.
People were nonetheless upset.
“You shouldn’t make a joke about kidnapping regardless of what it is,” one person told CNN affiliate WOIO. “I just think that was poor taste, very poor taste, very offensive,” said another.
The billboard has since been taken down, but it was on display in January, which is national human trafficking awareness month.
Some customers found the billboard to be harmless.
“I love your signs and there was absolutely nothing wrong with the kidnapping sign… I’ve seen that saying on Facebook several times in memes,” one customer wrote on the pizza store’s Facebook page.
Clemetson started putting up comical billboards six months ago to help attract more business.
“We’ve had ‘Legalize marinara,’ and ‘Our pizza is deep as potholes,’ ‘Free box with every pizza,'” he said.
Ever since the news of his billboard hit news stations across the country, Clemetson hasn’t had time to think about the next cheek-in-tongue phrase his next billboard will say.
But one thing’s for sure. “I probably will think more when I put up my next sign. I don’t want to end up on national news again,” Clemetson said.