In recent years, Tortina has grown famous for launching playful variations on the traditional kunafa – a dessert made of pastry soaked in a sugar-based syrup, and sometimes layered with nuts and cream – during the month of Ramadan.
From Tres Leches, Lotus, and Mango kunafas; to the punnily named ghar’ana, a kunafa ‘drowning’ in condensed milk; and madloo’a, a Syrian kunafa ‘spoiled’ with condensed milk, sponge cake, and a light layer of cream.
This year saw the launch of its latest creative venture, in partnership with smart payment application valU: ‘kunafa met’asata’ (kunafa paid in installments).
Presumably inspired by a joke one commentator made ahead of the holy month, this Ramadan’s kunafa pun took social media users by surprise.
News of the marketing stunt was shared to the Twitter account of news site Bankawy on 20 March, along with the link to an online registration form through which users could sign up to buy and pay for the kunafa in installments.
#بنكاوى | #ڤاليو و Tortina عملوا السنه دي “المتقسطة” كنافة جديدة بالتري ليتشي والفراوله. دوس هنا واطلبها دلوقتي وادفع بڤاليو على 3 شهور بدون فوائد او مصاريف شراء او مقدم.https://t.co/6udbpBIHf5
اخر معاد لحجز المتقسطة يوم 21 مارس علشان توصلك اول يوم رمضان.
بالشراكة مع باى ناس. pic.twitter.com/KeNPcJmwLg
— Bankawy – بنكاوى (@bankawy) March 20, 2023
The tweet, quoted over 400 times, elicited responses ranging from laughter to disbelief and dismay at what some found to be a “tone deaf” advertisement.
Some users expressed surprise or simply regarded the pun as such, joking about the absurdity of selling desserts on an installment plan:
– انت اتسجنت ليه؟
= ابدا اتأخرت في قسط الكنافة https://t.co/OcvWJkxqSs
— شرطة الأخلاق👮♀️🦅 (@Nur_ziDanee) March 21, 2023
Translation: What were you in jail for? Oh, nothing, just late to pay installments on my kunafa.
يعني عشان اكل كنافه افضل اسدد في اقساطها لحد رأس السنه الهجريه !! https://t.co/m9H9BaGhC6
— Mohamed Elhodeby (@Elhodeby11) March 20, 2023
Translation: So if I want to eat kunafa, I’ll get myself indebted until Islamic New Year [in July]!
انا شايفة نبوظ collab تورتينا و فاليو و نشتري المتقسطة كاش
— Rana (@RanaMSaad) March 24, 2023
Translation: I think we should ruin the Tortina/valU collab by paying for the met’asata in cash.
Others found the advertisement to be offensive or felt that it made light of the gravity of the current inflation crisis:
Translation: Someone tell Tortina to stop, this is stupid and unfunny. It’s not right that Tortina makes huge profits like it does every year and we need to borrow money to pay for a kunafa. This is completely idiotic.
كفاية قلة ادب و قلة ذوق https://t.co/LIwrICGi7V
— Zeinobia 🎙️📷📓 (@Zeinobia) March 20, 2023
Translation: This is so rude and in such poor taste, enough of this
انا بحب تورتينا و اختراعاتهم دايما بتطلع حلوة بس موضوع الكنافة اللي بالتقسيط دا سيئ جدا و tone deaf جدا.
— Nada (@JustLikeAnyThin) March 20, 2023
Translation: I like Tortina and the things they come up with are always nice, but this kunafa installment plan thing is awful and extremely tone deaf.
Many users, like the below, did not directly poke criticism at the advertisement, but rather at the broader economic downturn which they found it to be symptomatic of:
Buying dessert in installments is a level of dystopian that i never would’ve imagined in my wildest dreams. https://t.co/sw1WYO9g31
— Swissrolla (@rollrolls0) March 20, 2023
تورتينا ده أصلاً محل الطبقة الupper middle فما فوق ف لما يعمل الموضوع ده يبقى الوضع حزين جداً pic.twitter.com/Q0lcC4yanP
— ياسمين أبو بكر (@YasmineAbouBakr) March 20, 2023
Translation: Tortina’s target market is upper and middle-income people, so when they do something like that, it means the current situation is very sad.
الوضع ما يطمن https://t.co/6P1Q8fqZD2
— mayar (@mayarhassan70) March 20, 2023
As several users were quick to note, Tortina is not the first food vendor to provide customers with the ability to pay for its products in installments — a trend driven by the growing inaccessibility of non-essential and leisure purchases.
First sushi now this? https://t.co/vONDnWMQUa
— Nour (@nourrrkhaleddd) March 22, 2023
One user pondered the potential dangers of this installment craze, warning that paying for non-necessities in installments could ultimately become a gateway to serious debt.
If you’re someone that does not have enough cash for something as unnecessary as konafa, please don’t do this to yourself. Don’t deliberately fall into the trap of monthly installments over a dessert that you’ll literally poop the next day. Debt is no fun. https://t.co/zBRW0Tjefh
— Gihan (@gihanahmed_) March 22, 2023