Nov. 18, 2002
CANTON, Ohio -- The sign in front of Your Pizza Shop no longer bears an ad for the shop's "420 fried special."
According to the Canton Repository, neighborhood residents and one civic group protested the advertising message, claiming the term "420" referenced a phrase popularized in the 1970s by marijuana smokers.
The brouhaha began when 22-year-old Rachel Travers moved to the neighborhood two weeks ago. Recognizing the pot reference, Travers went to the store and demanded managers change the sign, but they refused.
Your Pizza Shop manager Pat Koury said that 420 12th Street also is the shop's address, but he didn't deny the phrase could be construed as a drug reference. The special also is available only on "Munchie Monday," "Toasted Tuesday" and "Green Leaf Wednesday."
When Dave Newstetter, president of the Massillon, Ohio-based Your Pizza Shop Corp., learned of the trouble over the sign, he insisted Koury change the message. A Canton police officer with the city's DARE program also asked him to change it.
Koury complied grudgingly.
"What happened to the First Amendment?" Koury asked reporters watching him remove the letters from the marquee. "(Travers) has made this a one-woman war on us for her interpretation of what the sign says; 420 also happens to be our address. Does she want us to change our address?"
Though Koury left the marquee blank, he told reporters the specials would remain.
Not according to Newstetter, however.
"I don't want anything that has any connotations that are improper -- sexual, alcohol or drugs," Newstetter said. He said the shop is a local franchise and the company "in no way authorized" the advertising.
Still, even Newstetter admitted "if I would have driven by, I wouldn't have even known what (420) meant."