Did Ninja Turtles Anti-Drug Campaign Urge ‘Say Pizza to Drugs’?

The original sign wasn't that much more clear.

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Poster, Advertisement, Text
Image via Tumblr

Claim

A photograph shows a sign featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that reads, "Say Pizza to Drugs, Say No to Yes."

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Origin

An image supposedly showing a poorly designed anti-drug / pro-pizza sign is frequently circulated on the internet with mocking comments. The sign features two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rafael and Donatello, and a slogan that appears to read: “Say Pizza to Drugs, Say No to Yes.”

The wording on this sign has been digitally altered. The original image featured the slogan “Say no to drugs, say yes to pizza,” although its rendering was still a bit confusing. 

The original photograph dates back to 2014, when it was shared to Scavengedluxury, a Tumblr page that frequently featured street photography from around Nottingham, England. Here’s a look at the altered image (left) and the genuine photograph (right):

While the intended message on this poster was clearly, “Say No to Drugs, Say Yes to Pizza,” the barrier in the middle of the poster leads some people to read it as, “Say No Say Yes, To Drugs to Pizza.” This led to some shares on comedy sites such as 9gag, and eventually, the image was photoshopped to have an even less clear message. 

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have a long history of peddling pizzas. TMNT video games and movies have featured product placement for Domino’s Pizza and Pizza Hut. The Turtles have also starred in a number of Pizza Hut commercials and advertising campaigns. The Turtles have also been part of anti-drug campaigns

It’s unclear when the Turtles started using the “Say No to Drugs, Say Yes to Pizza” slogan, but we’ve found a few pizzeria advertisements from the late 1980s that also featured this slogan.

Sources:

Abrams, Simon. “When ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Made Sense, Sort Of.” Politico PRO, https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2011/12/when-teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-made-sense-sort-of-068382. Accessed 27 Sept. 2021.

Beckerman, Marty. “A Complete History Of TMNT Pizza Product Placement.” MTV News, http://www.mtv.com/news/1877849/ninja-turtles-pizza-hut/. Accessed 27 Sept. 2021.

scavengedluxury. “Scavengedluxury.” Scavengedluxury, https://scavengedluxury.tumblr.com/post/102129069862/say-no-say-yes-to-drugs-to-pizza-nottingham. Accessed 27 Sept. 2021.