California newspaper apologizes to Donnie Wahlberg and Dorchester for ‘that Southie thing’

Wahlberg says he "was not even remotely angry."

Wahlburgers Article Screenshot
A screenshot of The Mercury News article on Palo Alto’s new Wahlburgers. –Screenshot

“What did we do?”

Well, following an outcry from Bostonians, The Mercury News knows exactly what they did.

The San Jose newspaper issued an apology Wednesday evening for an article Tuesday about California’s first Wahlburgers location titled, “How to eat like a Southie?” The original article, which has since been changed, confused a number of things about Boston and the Wahlberg brothers’ home neighborhood of Dorchester, including the cringe-worthy mistake of referring to a South Boston resident as “a Southie.”

“Turns out that “Southie” usage is as grating to those residents as it is to us when out-of-staters refer to San Francisco as ‘Frisco’ or confuse Silicon Valley’s San Jose with the capital of Costa Rica,” The Mercury News wrote in a public apology Wednesday titled, “Dear Donnie Wahlberg and Dorchester: Sorry about that ‘Southie’ thing.”


The paper wrote that they were simply trying to highlight the regional New England fare — haddock, fluffernutters, frappes — that Californians could expect at the Wahlberg’s burger chain. However, their missteps on local Boston terminology prompted corrections from the city’s notoriously provincial residents and natives, including Donnie Wahlberg himself.

“Gee, you’d think we’d accused the Patriots of deflating footballs or something,” The Mercury News wrote.

While The Mercury News maintained Wednesday that “in all fairness Southie does sound like a person and not a place,” the paper did offer to buy Wahlberg and his brothers a round of frappes if they ever visit their new Palo Alto restaurant.

Wahlberg was quick to respond that it wasn’t necessary and that he “was not even remotely angry.”

The Mercury News isn’t the first newspaper to redress a “Southie” mistake.

In a profile on Barbara Lynch earlier this year, The New York Times repeatedly referred to the acclaimed South Boston-raised chef as a “Southie.” After receiving a good measure of ridicule on social media, the Times, which at first defended its verbiage, grudgingly amended its article:

Instead of calling her “a fierce Southie,” the Times wrote that the chef is a “fierce daughter of Southie, a nickname for this neighborhood (and, she said, an old local term for the people who built it that’s rarely, if ever, used today).”

Rarely used and, it seems, only in out-of-town newspapers.