'Super gross and ignorant': Is this Cartel-themed Kiwi burger menu offensive?

Burger cartel menu
While some have questioned how appropriate the menu is, others think it's no big deal. Photo credit: Burger Cartel/Instagram/Reddit.

A Kiwi burger joint owner says its Mexican cartel themed menu is meant to raise awareness and start conversations after it was labelled "super gross and ignorant" by one diner. 

According to a photo of the menu posted online, dishes at Whanganui restaurant Burger Cartel include the 'Pablo Escobar',  the 'Texan La Barbie' and the 'Cerdo Muerto'.

Posting on the New Zealand sub-Reddit, user Elco27 wrote they were visiting family in the North Island town and dined at the restaurant that "is for some reason themed off violent Central American drug cartels".

'Super gross and ignorant': Is this Cartel-themed Kiwi burger menu offensive?
Photo credit: Reddit/ Burger Cartel.

The Redditor said they were surprised at the lack of outrage from locals.  

"This was a few days after that Mormon family was massacred in Mexico. I asked my cousins if anyone in Whanganui thought this was maybe sort of tasteless and they were pretty meh about it," they wrote. 

"Apparently the restaurant has been around for over a year! I feel like this would not fly in Wellington or Auckland. Am I crazy to think this is super gross and ignorant?"

Reddit commenters questioned the appropriateness of some of the individual menu items. 

On the kid's menu is a meal called the 'Trafficking' which has its own obvious connotations, and the 'Kiki Salad' is assumedly named "Kiki" Salazar, a DEA agent who was abducted, tortured and murdered while in Mexico in the 1980s. 

But others felt that the offended parties were being over the top. 

"I agree, but there are better things to get outraged out than a burger stand," one person pointed out. 

"It's not super offensive to me but it could offend American or Mexican visitors," wrote another, to which someone replied: "I'm American and I'll live". 

And one person had this very intense gripe: "I am outraged that the trafficking doesn't come with a traffic lights drink." 

Burger Cartel owner Cameron Archibald says he didn't intend to start something offensive. 

Opening Burger Cartel in 2018, Archibald said he wanted to create a restaurant in small-town New Zealand with a point of difference. 

"When you create a restaurant you want to foster an environment where people can have a conversation," he explained to Newshub.  

"People in the Southern Hemisphere have very little understanding of what's happening in places like South America. [This theme] creates conversation, raises awareness and gets people engaged. 

"When you're in a small community like ours, people can be quite isolated. It brings people into the box and sparks some interesting conversations," he added. 

For those concerned over terms like 'Trafficking' used on a children's menu, Archibald questions who exactly is going to be offended. 

"I didn't really think about [human trafficking] when I put that on, I was more thinking about the children's drink 'traffic light' and thinking of words that would be easy to say. 

"And honestly, what kid is going to have an understanding of what that means?"

The 'Trafficking' item was even received an Advertising Standards complaint in December last year by local woman Karyn Hoskin, but was found not to breach any standards.