When did ethnic food items become racial slurs?

I read an article where some high school kids got into a brawl after one of them, presumably Mexican, had been called a “Taco.” Perhaps I am just too old, but back in my school days, I just don’t recall people using ethnic food items as racial slurs. All racism aside, this seems awfully ridiculous if it is becoming a trend. Somehow imagining kids angrily calling each other California Roll, Pesto Linguini, Pork Bun, Rib eye steak, House Fried Rice or Burrito just seems ludicrous. Has anyone heard of this before, or was it just an isolated incident?

Not quite the same thing but Oreo, egg, and banana were less than positive terms that I recall being in used when I was a young kid (80s).

I do recall in elementary school a kid who got the nickname chicken feet for a while. But I think it was because we found it funny that he’d eaten such a gross (to us then, I’ve had them many times since myself) thing, not because he was Vietnamese.

Not a high school brawl, but:

(Written circa 1599, and set in 1415)

Haven’t the French been “frogs” for quite a while?

You mean like calling Mexican Americans Beaners? Been going on for quite some time.

I always thought that they were called cheese eating surrender monkeys.

Cracker has been around since the 1700’s.

Ever heard of the ‘Frito Bandito’?

I know what Oreo is in context of an ethnic slur, but ‘Egg’ and ‘Banana’ are weird.
Is that yellow on the inside, white on the outside and the converse?

My goodness, that is some strange kind of hatred going on there.

I once heard an Italian-American called a meatball on TV once. Murder She Wrote, I believe. David Ogden Stiers played the meatball.

Ehh, I guess the sentiment is still there and there isn’t really any need for it.

There’s probably a million of these. French-Canadians were called Pepsis and Pea Soups (Pea Soupers).

“Kraut” was a slur for Germans starting with WWI. That’s just a short/alternate version of sauerkraut, and kraut was used as a short name for the food before it was used as a slur.

Boardwalk Empire (set at the time Prohibition started) features the racial slur “garlic eaters.” While I can’t vouch for the authenticity of the term, I’d have no reason to doubt it.

So… unless you’re 120+, they were using foods as slurs well before your school days.

From my musicology studies, I came across the terms Corny and Cheesy. They originated in the 1930s, and likely had to do with the American Midwest, and images of homogeneous whiteness.

Not sure if it counts, but it would appear someone who is black might be referred to as an ‘eggplant’ based on the movie ‘True Romance’.

Dennis Hopper accuses Christopher Walken’s character of being part ‘eggplant’ when he is being tortured as to his son’s whereabouts as an insult to the otherwise Sicilian mobster to get him to kill him quickly, knowing that in the context of the Moors invading Sicily, that all Sicilians are part black or ‘part eggplant’ explaining their dark hair and darker (than normal Italians’) skin…

We have friends whose last name is Boehner (or something close to that spelling). It is pronounce “Beaner” more or less. The wife is of Mexican descent.

We ran into her at a fairground when my son was 12. My gf was happy/ excited to see her and screamed, “hey! beaner!!” (which is what we all call her). My son was embarrassed.

H. L. Mencken claimed that Dutch colonists to New Amsterdam were derisively called “John Cheese” by the British.

Eggplant was also used in the Steve Martin movie “The Jerk”

Navin: “Select class. Very, very good.”
Boss: “We’ll keep the eggplants out!”
Navin: “Ah good! We don’t want any vegetables.”
Con Man: “Na, na. The jungle bunnies!”
Navin: “Oh of course! They’ll eat the vegetables!”

I get annoyed that we have to whisper the word watermelon and fried chicken these days. Both foods have been loved by Southerners of all races for generations. Yet today its a huge insult to offer either to a black person.

I even got the fish eye from a white guy that I hired to dig out a stump. I paid him and offered a slice of melon from the freezer. He acted like I was insulting him. I finally cut a big wedge and said “I just love cold melon on a hot day”. He finally relaxed and had some too.

Associating food and racism is just weird. We all eat tacos, fried chicken and so on.

Limeys are Roast Beef