Kraft Heinz's jokey marketing campaign encouraging people to "send noods" quickly descended into a hellfire after angry moms ravaged their Instagram posts, saying the company "sexualized mac 'n' cheese" and was being "predatory" toward children.
Some of the most militant critics even used hashtags and talking points associated with the QAnon mass delusion to attack the company over its pun.
Lynne Galia, a spokesperson for Kraft Heinz, told BuzzFeed News in a statement that the social media campaign was inspired by National Noodle Day last week and "encouraged adults to send free noodles to loved ones to provide comfort and make them smile."
The company is well aware of the backlash, Galia said, adding that since the campaign has already ended, "the content will be removed from our channels."
On Tuesday, the company playfully announced its #SendNoods campaign with a video featuring former Saturday Night Live actor Vanessa Bayer.
Kraft and Bayer play up the pun repeatedly in the video. "In these strange times, people are in need of extra comfort. That's why it's always a nice gesture to send noods," she says. "To be clear, I'm not advocating you send nudes to anyone. ... Send noods, not nudes."
Some customers did not find the bit funny, saying it was wildly "inappropriate" because Kraft was a "family company." Many threatened to take their business to Annie's, another purveyor of mac 'n' cheese.
"This is not okay. Don’t you realize that a huge portion of the people who actually eat your mac n’ cheese are children?!" one commenter wrote. "Please delete this!! Unacceptable! Switching over to Annie’s organics."
Several top commenters confirmed to BuzzFeed News that they were moms to young "kiddos" and were profoundly concerned about the campaign's cheeky and sexual inference because children eat mac 'n' cheese. (Of course, many other customers, such as college students and adults, also regularly eat mac 'n' cheese.)
"I do not want my boys growing up and seeing a commercial where they joke about the exploitation of children!" said Instagram user @jessirodgerson, a mom of two young boys.
Others, like @marendroubay, a mom of three young children, claimed Kraft is marketing "in a way that grooms children into believing it's OK and even FUNNY to 'send noods.'"
Multiple women also used the joke to espouse their fears and conspiracies about mass child trafficking happening in secret by the so-called deep state, a false narrative espoused by those who follow the QAnon collective delusion.
The pointed anger only grew on Monday after Kraft shared another Instagram post about its "send noods" joke over the weekend.
"Stop stop stop!!!!!!! Listen to all of these moms!! We are your customers!!!" one commenter wrote.
Some are even commenting with the hashtag #SaveTheChildren, which was once a real initiative for anti–child trafficking that has since been hijacked by QAnon groups.
Galia said the social media marketing gimmick was created to get people to mail mac 'n' cheese boxes to friends and family members.
"The social promotion resulted in over 20,000 consumers across the country receiving boxes of America’s favorite Kraft Mac and Cheese," said Galia. "We appreciate all the feedback we’ve received."