On August 9, just two weeks after #CancelPizza swept the internet, the Ajinomoto Group, a major supplier of monosodium glutamate (MSG), revealed that it launched the satirical campaign as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to address misinformation and dispel stigma around the ingredient. The initiative, which has achieved more than 27 million views on TikTok, leverages humor to spotlight the irony of condemning MSG seasoning, while embracing other foods with inherently present MSG, like typical pizza ingredients.
“What makes pizza so delicious is the inherent presence of MSG in many of its most beloved toppings,” said Dr. Tia M. Rains, vice president of science, innovation and corporate affairs at Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition, North America. “As many consumers already know, there are decades of scientific evidence to support the safety of MSG, so we launched this campaign as a way to show that continuing to cancel MSG is as silly as calling to cancel pizza.”
At the center of this social media campaign is a faux science-minded conspiracy theorist who points out the identical molecular composition between monosodium glutamate in a shaker and the MSG found in pizza toppings. His videos and petition website (all of which subtly link to the Ajinomoto Group’s official KnowMSG website) are anchored by facts and real chemistry. The character eagerly explains the right science but comedically reaches the wrong conclusion: if people still want to cancel MSG, they should #CancelPizza too.
“We blended the allure of viral conspiracy-style comedy with real scientific explanations of MSG’s flavor benefits, aiming to demystify unwarranted bans. Our hope is that foodies and pizza lovers across America begin to question the lack of scientific foundation behind MSG stigmas and embrace it as the safe umami seasoning it truly is,” said Dr. Rains.
The Ajinomoto Group has already seen overwhelmingly positive social responses with 70% of comments defending pizza and by extension, MSG. #CancelPizza content was amplified by Ajinomoto partners who posted response videos to set the record straight on MSG.
Headquartered in Tokyo, the Ajinomoto Group makes a wide variety of authentic Japanese and other Asian frozen foods as well as seasonings essential to Asian gourmet cuisine. Among its many value added frozen products are Shrimp Shumai Dumplings and Yakitori Chicken, in addition to Mexican and Tex-Mex entrees sold under the José Olé and Posada brands.
Based on the corporate message “Eat Well, Live Well.” Ajinomoto has been scientifically pursuing the possibilities of amino acids to aim for future growth by creating new value through sustainable and innovative solutions for consumers. Founded in 1907 as a subsidiary of Suzuki Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., the company opened its first American office in New York in 1917 and has since grown and expanded its presence, establishing offices and production facilities in North Carolina, Iowa and Illinois.
Globally, Ajinomoto has offices in 36 countries and regions, and markets products in more than 130 national and regional markets. Sales in fiscal 2022 amounted to ¥1.359 trillion (US $9.4 billion).