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Food Fight: 2015's Most Memorable Feuds

The seven biggest food world feuds of the year.

As 2015 winds to a close, let us look back and fondly — okay, sometimes not so fondly — reflect on some of the year's biggest showdowns. Starbucks drew more than its fair share of internet ire this year, and Donald Trump declared numerous enemies from Oreo to José Andrés. And of course, no one should forget about Iggy Azalea's epic spat with Papa John's, which played out on Twitter for all the world to see. Here now, the fiercest food world feuds of the year:


Donald Trump

[Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images]

Donald Trump has without a doubt proved to be the most controversial public figure of the year, and he made plenty of enemies in the food world. The outspoken Republican presidential candidate is currently embroiled in mutual lawsuits with José Andrés and Geoffrey Zakarian after both chefs pulled out of a Trump Hotel project in D.C. following his disparaging remarks about immigrants. (Said comments also drew criticism from Anthony Bourdain.) In August he declared war on iconic American favorite Oreo after Nabisco announced it was moving its factory to Mexico, and he also toyed with the idea of a Starbucks boycott following the ridiculous holiday cup controversy that dominated headlines in November. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Donald Trump piñatas are selling like hotcakes this year; at the grand reopening party for a Portland, Ore. food cart, customers attacked a life-size version with sticks to vent their frustrations with the self-tanned politician.

Iggy Azalea vs. Papa John's

Iggy Azalea vs Papa John's

[Photos: Iggy Azalea/Facebook, Susan Montgomery/Shutterstock]

Lately it seems like hardly a day goes by without a celebrity getting into some sort of very public mudslinging on Twitter. But arguably the most entertaining spat to go down in increments of 140 characters or less this year was the bitter February exchange between waning hip-hop star Iggy Azalea and pizza chain Papa John’s. Iggy was just minding her own business making it a Netflix night with a cheese pizza, when her delivery guy apparently decided to give her phone number out to his friends — resulting in a slew of unsolicited texts and calls from fans. Iggy tweeted her displeasure @PapaJohns, and the company’s ill-advised response attempted to defuse the situation by referencing some of her lyrics. In the end, the situation spurred Papa John’s to issue a press release apologizing for the privacy breach and promising that it had taken "disciplinary action" against the employee. Congratulations America, this is what hip-hop feuds look like in 2015.

Guy Fieri vs. Anthony Bourdain

Fieri Bourdain

[Photos: Getty]

The battle between writer/world traveler Anthony Bourdain and culinary kewl guy/budding winemaker Guy Fieri has been simmering for years, but it was gloriously reignited in 2015. Bourdain made some jokes at Fieri's expense during his 2015 "Close to the Bone" speaking tour, and clearly the Food Network host caught wind of it: In a meaty GQ profile published in November, the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives star vented his frustrations about Bourdain, saying, "I know he’s definitely gotta have issues, ’cos the average person doesn’t behave that way ... You have nothing else to fucking worry about than if I have bleached hair or not?" Bourdain later told E! News, "If you can't tell jokes about Guy Fieri, comedy as we know it is dead." Let's hope this excellent Donkey Sauced rivalry continues well into 2016 (and beyond).



[Photo: Starbucks/Facebook]

It was certainly a busy holiday season for Starbucks' PR department. In November, the coffee giant unveiled the 2015 edition of its annual holiday cup design — a plain red cup lacking the ornaments or evergreen trees of previous years' designs, which the company explained was an effort to "usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories." Cue the internet outrage: A certain sect of conservative Christians declared the red cups part of America's ongoing "war on Christmas," and social media users quickly took sides. Donald Trump even toyed with the idea of a Starbucks boycott. Dunkin' Donuts — intentionally or unintentionally — added fuel to the fire when it launched its own holiday cups, with a decidedly more festive design. Then in December, a new controversy arose over the coffee shop's frosted polar bear sugar cookies as someone pointed out the bear's red scarves actually resembled bleeding slit throats; that one was quickly squashed, as it turned out the cookies hadn't been sold since 2010.


Leopold "Butters" Scotch/Facebook

[Image: Leopold "Butters" Stotch/Facebook]

Much-maligned yet undeniably popular review site Yelp continued to make new enemies this year. While Google appeared to be its ally when it attempted to purchase the user-friendly company in 2009, the match made in heaven soon fell apart when the deal fell through, leaving both parties disgruntled. Another partnership gone awry for the site was with food delivery app Eat24; delivery drivers sued Yelp for $5 million in unpaid tips back in July. Yelp has even been at war with its own shareholders, who also attempted to sue them. The suit, which was won by Yelp this month, claimed that shareholders had been "misled about the authenticity and quality of its reviews." Yelp users have also increasingly become targets: The owner of a restaurant in Tucson, Ariz. is even forming a "No Yelpers" movement. Yelpers' notoriety was enough to inspire South Park to air an entire episode poking fun at Yelp reviewers. In fact, Yelp has found itself embroiled in the midst of so many controversies that there's even been a documentary made about it.


The All-Nite Images/Flickr

[Photo: The All-Nite Images/Flickr]

One of the biggest news stories of 2015 was the fight for a higher minimum wage. Fast food workers around the country staged walkouts and protests, demanding a livable wage of $15 an hour. But big chains, particularly McDonald's, aren't going down with a fight. The Big Mac slinger got caught up in multiple lawsuits this year regarding employee wages. One of its first courtroom rivals was the city of Seattle, which McDonald's sued back in March in attempt to fight the city's minimum wage increase. McDonald's refusal to budge was met by massive fast-food worker protests all over the world. Just a month after the worldwide demonstration in April, protestors stormed the McDonald's Chicago-based headquarters as part of the Fight for $15. McDonald's continues to fight against its employees' battle for higher wages, appealing a ruling that deemed McDonald's responsible for the working conditions and wages of its franchise-owned restaurants.


Taco Bell/Facebook McDonald's/Facebook

[Photos: Taco Bell/FacebookMcDonald's/Facebook]

Two fast-food giants waged a silly breakfast war against one another this year. The war included a "short film" by Taco Bell making fun of McDonald's breakfast options.

McDonald's went the cheaper route and responded with a short Vine that stated, "We love everyone. Even 'Defectors.' See you soon!"

But it seems the victor in this battle is McDonald's: The chain recently launched all-day breakfast nationwide, and the appeal of post-noon Egg McMuffins is driving customers to stores. Face it, Taco Bell: Waffle tacos are no McGriddles.