Recipe Videos with Scorpions, Thumbtacks and Razorblades Demonstrates the Pain of Living With the Disease

Joint Effort Between Leading Celiac Disease Organizations and Hill Holliday Is First of its Kind

 May 7, 2019 (Los Angeles, CA) – Cupcakes with razorblades. Pizza with scorpions. Pasta Salad with thumbtacks. In the eyes of someone suffering from celiac disease, this is what food with gluten looks like because it’s also what it feels like. To help a coalition of celiac disease organizations bring the seriousness of celiac disease to the masses, a new campaign created by creative advertising agency Hill Holliday aims to shock people with images of food with frighteningly painful ingredients.

Created in partnership with the Celiac Disease Foundation, Beyond Celiac, the Canadian Celiac Association, the Gluten Intolerance Group, and the National Celiac Association, the creative campaign features social media content, digital videos, a designated website, and is designed to educate, raise awareness, and even more importantly, inspire compassion for sufferers of the disease.

Visually enticing food-prep videos feature seemingly delicious items like pasta salad, cupcakes, and pizza, but with one jarring twist — they include ingredients like razorblades, scorpions, and thumbtacks, viscerally communicating just how painful it is for people with celiac disease to eat food that contains gluten. Each video ends with the payoff line: You see food differently when you suffer from celiac disease. The recipe videos will be distributed via partnership with Buzzfeed.

Celenia’s Cupcakes, a temporary pop-up “bakery,” opens May 16th and 17th in South Station, Boston’s busiest train station. Cupcake flavors like Razor Blade Bliss, Chocolate Thumbtack Surprise, Vanilla Rusty Nail Crunch, will be on display to first surprise and then educate passersby.

The videos and pop-up bakery drive to a microsite so that people can learn more about the disease and find out how they can become more involved.

 “The fact is, most people confuse gluten-free diets with celiac disease, but they are not remotely the same,” said Rick McHugh, one of the creative directors at Hill Holliday who helped develop the campaign. “We wanted to educate people, in a visceral way, what it’s really like to live with this disease. And we hope this work fosters empathy and understanding for celiac sufferers.”

“Despite what you may see in popular media, celiac disease is not a fad. It is not a punchline. The burden of a gluten-free diet is considered by patients to be second only to that of end-stage renal disease, and by caregivers, comparable to caring for a patient with cancer,” said Marilyn G. Geller, CEO of the Celiac Disease Foundation. “On behalf of our celiac community, we are proud to share a national campaign, and are deeply appreciative of Hill Holliday’s outstanding efforts to help people understand what celiac disease sufferers face every day.”

About the Celiac Disease Foundation

The Celiac Disease Foundation is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating diagnosis, treatments, and a cure for celiac disease—one of the world’s most common genetic autoimmune diseases. Founded in 1990, the Celiac Disease Foundation has led the fight by funding and executing initiatives in the principal areas of medical research, patient and healthcare provider education, and public policy advocacy, to bring an end to the suffering caused by celiac disease. For more information visit:

About Hill Holliday

Fighting the daily share battle in the noisiest categories. It’s what we do. Hill Holliday is proud to be one of the top creative marketing agencies in the country, with over 500 employees across our network. Since 1968, we’ve built our business on winning that daily share battle for our clients in the most competitive categories. Blending superior creative, media, and technology, we deliver game-changing ideas for industry leaders like Bank of America, Tempur Sealy International, Party City, Capella University, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Optum, Boar’s Head, Simple Mobile, Cracker Barrel, and Frontier Communications. For more about our people, our work, and our culture, visit

May Celiac Awareness Campaign for Celiac Disease Goes for the Gut