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After Eruption of Viral Outrage, New Business Drops “Special Ed’s” Branding

June 28, 2016

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

California Brewery Slammed as Insensitive to People with Disabilities, Families

Call it the winner of the “How Not to Brand Your Business Contest!”

But Galt, California entrepreneur Ed Mason learned the hard way that jokes at the expense of disabilities—even those conceived in all innocence and with no malice—come with a price.

Mason’s planned craft brewery and beer-making storefront was supposed to be called Special Ed’s.  The planned brewery even had beer-bottle labels ready to go reading, “ ‘tard tested, ‘tard approved”.

So-called craft breweries are small breweries that make and sell their own beers locally, usually using old-fashioned home-brewing methods.  The industry is known for lightheartedness, irreverence and whimsical beer names like “Hoppy Ending Pale Ale.”

Apparently Mr. Mason didn’t take into account the sensibilities, affected or genuine, of today’s instantly-connected electronic world. 

Word of the brewery’s branding plans went viral on Monday, June 13, with an overwhelmingly negative reaction—including calls for boycotts.  The company’s online profile page was removed by the very next day.

And in the early morning hours of Wednesday, June 15, two rocks shattered the storefront window of what was supposed to become Special Ed’s.

Following the incident, Mason said he was planning to change the name.  

At the store, the Sacramento Bee reported, Mason had already whited out the words “Special Ed’s” both on the banner hanging inside the window and on a city alcohol license posted in the window to the right of the entrance.

“I think we can turn this around,” he said.  “So many people have accused me of apologizing just to save face.  That’s nowhere near the truth.  I’m just trying to do the right thing.”