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Social media bunfight over Wellington burger with 'offensive' name

Ekim Burgers owner Mike Marsland and daughter Lolita, after whom the Lolita Popper is named.

A burger joint owner has been caught in a social media bunfight after naming his Wellington on a Plate entry after his 6-year-old daughter.

Mike Marsland, owner of Ekim Burgers in Cuba St, created the Lolita Popper for the burger section of the annual Wellington food festival.

The name was a red rag to blogger Joanna McLeod, who spotted "a pretty obvious connection" to Vladimir Nabokov's 1955 novel Lolita, about a man who has a sexual relationship with his 12-year-old stepdaughter.

Ekim Burgers on Cuba St, Wellington.

She tweeted on Thursday, under the name The Wellingtonista, saying: "We'll put out recommendations for #wellyonaplate tonight, but in the meantime, don't give $ to jerks who named a burger after statutory rape." 

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She told Stuff later on Thursday: "I think it's an incredibly offensive name, and I don't think it's a coincidence."


A tweet sent out on Thursday by @TheWellingtonista blogger Joanna McLeod claimed Ekim's burger contained a "pretty obvious connection" to the novel Lolita.

But Marsland, who also owns Wellington restaurant El Matador, said the Nabokov connection had never crossed his mind, and the burger – a panko-crumbed tarakihi fillet with stuffed jalapenos, or "poppers", was named after his youngest daughter.

"Part of the Ekim thing is burgers are named after family. I also own a South American/Argentinian restaurant, and Lolita is a South American name."

​He said he was working on a new menu that would also feature a Gemma Lily burrito, after his eldest daughter, and the Leroy burger – designed for fussy children – after his son.

Marsland says he's working on a new menu that will include burgers named after Lolita's sister Gemma Lily and brother Leroy.

He suspected McLeod had drawn her conclusion based on former Ekim owner Mike Duffy, who made headlines in the past for firing off expletives on social media after a customer claimed his food had given her son food poisoning.

"He would have had trolls for Africa," Marsland said.

McLeod confessed she did not know Ekim had changed hands in February, but maintained the name could still be offensive to people.

"It [the tweet] was based entirely on the way the world works and that people think it's hilarious to make jokes about statutory rape."

She said Ekim and Wellington on a Plate both "had a moral responsibility to consider what they're saying".

When asked if she would take the issue up with Ekim, McLeod said: "I've done what I want to do, and I'm not going to spend my money there and wouldn't encourage other people to."

Marsland said it was a shame she would not back down.

"Everyone c.... up, you've got to own it and deal with it. I don't understand people who cannot go, 'Oh s..., I got that bit wrong, sorry about that.'

"Why can't people do that?"

Later on Thursday, McLeod tweeted: "We didn't know Ekim changed hands. New owners might not know it but Lolita Popper is still awful name & @WellyOnaPlate should known better."

And: "@WellyOnaPlate Sorry for calling the new Mike a jerk though, he sounds like a decent person."

Wellington on a Plate has been approached for comment.




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