An Australian cafe's "Uncle Tom" hamburger is making people mad as hell

Source: Instagram
Source: Instagram

Burgers are the center of a piping hot debate over entree names at a cafe in Brisbane, Australia. 

Master Toms, a cafe that describes itself as a "California inspired funky breakfast and a burger bar with a twist," had a menu board advertising an "Uncle Tom" burger, News 9 reported. 

The burger contains "fresh ground lean beef mince with bacon, fried egg, cheese, beetroot, tomato, lettuce and house sauce, served in a lightly toasted bun," the restaurant's menu board noted. 

A quick lesson in United States history: "Uncle Tom" was a character in Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, which exposed conditions of slavery in the U.S. Uncle Tom was a slave who rejected the advice of other slaves and faithfully served his master, explained Jarvis J. Williams, associate professor at Souther Baptist Theological Seminary, in an article for the seminary. The expression "Uncle Tom" has been used "as racist hate speech from the mouths of black Americans against other black Americans," Williams noted. 

A 2017 survey revealed that more Australians believe the country is racist compared to a survey conducted in 2008, ABC reported, noting the change could be due to an increased awareness about what racism is. 

While Australians might have previously been unfamiliar with the history behind the expression "Uncle Tom," social media outrage over the burger could perhaps encourage them to read up on their history. People took to Facebook and Twitter to express their anger over the "Uncle Tom" burger. 

"I can't believe anyone would think this is a clever play on words or history," Sam Allmark posted to Facebook, News 9 reported. "This is awful," another Facebook commenter wrote. Another commenter said, "This makes me sick." 

Others felt the reaction was unwarranted. 

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the restaurant has publicly apologized for the burger name. 

The name Uncle Tom has not been connected to anything negative at Master Toms and has literally just been the name of one of our burgers. The business was named after the owners son, whose middle name is Tom, same as the owners middle name. The menu items have included names to do with "Master" and "Tom."

Master Toms hosted a competition to rename their burger, and the winner will be announced in the next week, Master Toms noted on its Facebook page. 

The cafe did not respond to Mic's request for comment. 

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Alex Orlov

Alex is a food staff writer. She can be reached at aorlov@mic.com.

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