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Store Manager Refuses to Write Birthday Greeting in Spanish

April 27, 1995

SOUTHINGTON, Conn. (AP) _ The manager of an ice cream store has been suspended after refusing a customer’s request to write ``Happy Birthday″ in Spanish on a cake, telling her, ``This is America.″

Ana Dicklow had gone to the Carvel store Saturday to get an ice cream cake with a Spanish ``Happy Birthday″ greeting for her 80-year-old father.

Dicklow said she offered to spell it out for store manager Fred Craig or write it herself on the frosting, but Craig said: ``Nope. This is America and I’ll only write it in English.″

``If someone had a match on me, I would’ve blown up!″ she said. ``Why would anybody think this way any more? It’s very backward.″

At first, Craig was unrepentant: ``I don’t feel it’s discriminatory. I was just stating my feelings,″ he told the Meriden Record-Journal on Wednesday.

But in a second interview, after his suspension without pay pending a company investigation, he said he realized his comment was ``really stupid.″

``I feel I brought dishonor to the company,″ he said.

At the privately owned Carvel Corp., officials said Thursday that customers at the company’s more than 500 stores often ask for Spanish-language writing on cakes and that the requests are fulfilled.

``What Fred did was very distressing and surprising,″ said Randall Mathieson, Carvel vice president and general counsel. ``Anybody who knows Carvel recognizes that we’re a virtual United Nations.″

Dicklow was born in Cuba and has lived in the United States for 25 years. She said she did not realize how angry she was until she arrived home with the cake, which she bought with no greeting at all.

``I bought the ice cream cake and I shouldn’t have,″ she said. ``If I wasn’t so shocked, I would probably have walked out or thrown it in his face.″

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