After nearly a decade of profiting off of cultural appropriation, Thug Kitchen finally announced they would be changing their name.  This news prompted strong responses from both their supporters as well as their detractors who had been attempting to hold them accountable. In this series we will take a deep dive into the history of Thug Kitchen, from their early days as a small Tumblr blog, to their ascension in the food world, becoming three time best selling cookbook authors, and all the bullshit in between. Matt and Michelle, the couple behind TK made a habit of slyly dodging their critics and employing a litany of gaslighting techniques to explain away their behavior. In part one of the series we’ll provide historical context for the outrage and accusations against Thug Kitchen, as well as hear from several of their early critics who will explain the murky world of cultural appropriation, coded language, code switching, and just what exactly is the problem with TK .

A transcript of the episode is available at

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The Links:

Thug Kitchen’s earliest Tumblr posts 

Meet the 2013 BFBA Winners: Thug Kitchen (Saveur)

Thug Kitchen, A Blog That Swears By Veganism. A Lot. (Washington Post)

Thug Life: A Behind-The-Scenes Look At The Masterminds Of Thug Kitchen(Epicurious)

The Problem With Thug Cuisine (Bryant Terry on CNN)

Thug Love: Ferguson And The Politics Of Race (Christopher Sebastian)

Thug Kitchen Is the Latest Iteration Of Digital Blackface (Vice by Jordan Sowunmi)


Thug Kitchen: A Recipe in Blackface (on The Root by Akeya Dickson)

Culturally Appropriate Foodie Tuesday – A Rant About Thug Kitchen (on iEatGrass by Ayinde Howell)

Here’s What Bothers Me Most About The Fact That Those Behind “Thug Kitchen” Are Actually White People (by Charring Ball on MadameNoire)

White Couple Behind ‘Thug Kitchen’: You Don’t Get to Redefine the Word ‘Thug’ (Jenn M Jackson on Watercoolerconvos)

White Wannabes Are ‘N*ggas’ and ‘Thugs’ But Never Victims of Racism  (Jenn M Jackson on Watercoolerconvos)

Dear creators of “thug kitchen”: stop using black stereotypes as a marketing strategy (on For Harriet by Brittany Dawson)

The problematic history of the word ‘thug’: From rioting Pa. coal miners to Tupac to a Philly courtroom (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Thug Kitchen: It’s not just about aping and appropriation, it’s about privilege (Afroculinaria by Michael W Twitty)

Thug Kitchen On Crafts N Crafts Podcast 

Tangentially Speaking with Dr Christopher Ryan: Ep 405 

Thug Kitchen on The Morning After 

Viva La Vegan Podcast/YouTube interview 

Digital blackface: Problems in food publishing aren’t new (Bryant Terry on KCRW 2020)

The Thug Kitchen Controversy (Bryant Terry, as well as Matt and Michelle on KCRW 2014)

Guest interviews:

Christopher Sebastian – websiteInstagramFacebook Patreon 

Jessica Shay – Vegan Street Fair websiteInstagramFacebookTwitterPatreon