Honestly, it would help Food & Wine out a lot, too.

By Adam Campbell-Schmitt
January 28, 2019
Courtesy of A&W Restaurants

Despite all the ways Internet culture has developed to shorten our conversations, from abbreviations like LOL to food emoji, there's one stylistic, space-saving choice URLs and hashtags haven't adopted: The ampersand. Take, for instance, this publication — despite our name being "Food & Wine," you're likely reading this on "foodandwine.com." And you can forget about hashtagging the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen #F&WClassic. That's #FWClassic, thank you very much. If an ampersand is part of a brand's identity, trying to maintain that recognition across digital platforms is a real pain in the conjunction. So when A&W restaurants, famous for its burgers and the eponymous root beer, reached out to inform me that the company has started a petition to instate the ampersand into the alphabet, I have to admit the marketing stunt hit home a little harder than most.

According to a statement from A&W restaurants, the ampersand has been in use since at least the year 45 A.D. and was once considered the 27th letter of the alphabet. So, to celebrate the brand's 100th birthday, A&W Restaurants is asking folks to help re-legitimize and recognize the ampersand by lobbying "dictionaries, social media decision makers and whomever will listen" with a petition on Change.org. Watch a video explaining the campaign below:

"The Internet has not been kind to this centuries-old symbol of unity," Sarah Mueller, A&W Vice President of Marketing, said. "We’re doing this for all the people that love the ampersand and all of the companies like ours that proudly display it in their names and logos," adding, "Its exclusion has made all of our lives a little harder. ‘Aandw.com’ is clunky and ugly. The Twitter handle ‘@aandwrestaurants’ looks ridiculous. ‘#A&W’ is read by computers as just one lonely #A. Sometimes using a ‘&’ just makes a lot more sense." Word.

In the meantime, A&W is protesting the snubbing of the ampersand by removing it from its logo. "Our website home page will remain ampersand-free until we reach our goal of 10,000 petition signatures, until some dictionary somewhere hears our plea or until National Root Beer Float Day, August 6, 2019," Mueller explained. To promote the cause, A&W (or AW, I guess) has launched the hashtag #BringBackThe&. Of course, the ampersand won't show up on social media... and that's entirely the point.

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