The Company Behind MSG Urges Merriam-Webster to Drop 'Chinese Restaurant Syndrome'

Celebrities call out the dictionary's 50-year-old definition as racist

Brandweek will feature live discussions with marketing pros at ULTA Beauty, Converse, UPS and more. Meet us in Miami Sept. 11–14 to boost your business and elevate your brand.

Merriam-Webster is such an of-the-moment publication that it’s added terms like “gender-nonconforming,” “snowflake” and “bottle episode” to its arsenal lately, plus identified “they” as the word of 2019. As its editors say, “The English language never sleeps.”

So why has it continued to single out monosodium glutamate in Chinese food, under the heading “Chinese restaurant syndrome,” as the potential cause of a number of serious reactions like dizziness and palpitations, despite a lack of medical evidence?

A new campaign, backed by a Japanese seasonings marketer, seizes on the 50-year-old term and asks the dictionary to rewrite its definition, helping bust a decades-old stigma—and, of course, sell more MSG.



Subscribe today!

To Read the Full Story Become an Adweek+ Subscriber

View Subscription Options

Already a member? Sign in