Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, the maker of Eskimo Pies, is joining the list of companies saying that they are changing a product's name because of concerns that it reflects a racial or cultural stereotype.
The name and marketing of Eskimo Pies are scheduled to be changed by the end of the year, with Elizabell Marquez, head of marketing for Dreyer’s, tells the New York Times that "we are committed to being a part of the solution on racial equality, and recognize the term is inappropriate. This move is part of a larger review to ensure our company and brands reflect our people values.”
The Times writes that "the packaging has long featured a small, dark-haired child wearing mittens and a heavy parka with a fur-lined hood. The term Eskimo is commonly used in Alaska to refer to all Inuit and Yupik people but it is considered derogatory by many who associate it with racist, non-Native colonizers who settled in the Arctic and used the term."
Similar decisions were announced last week by the companies that make Aunt Jemima, Cream of Wheat, Uncle Ben’s, and Mrs. Butterworth’s - each of which has built a brand identity based on a racial stereotype of African-Americans.
The Times notes that in a similar move, "consumer giant Johnson & Johnson said it would no longer sell Neutrogena Fine Fairness and Clear Fairness by Clean & Clear, which have been advertised as dark-spot reducers but used by some purchasers to lighten skin tone. Those product lines were not distributed in the United States and sold only in Asia and the Middle East."
- KC's View:
Not everybody is in favor of these moves.
USA Today reports that "two families of women who portrayed Aunt Jemima say they oppose Quaker Oats' plans to rename the brand of syrup and pancake mixes and change the iconic figure. "
PepsiCo-owned Quaker Oats said last week it would retire the Aunt Jemima brand by the end of the year, replacing it with another brand name, because of concerns that the name and visual representation was reflective of a racial stereotype. The model for the original Aunt Jemima, in fact, was a Civil War-era slave named Nancy Green.
The Green family, as well as the family of Anna Short Harrington, whose image succeeded Green's, say that they are proud of their ancestors and that PepsiCo is trying to erase their families' histories.
I'm sympathetic to these families, but PepsiCo/Quaker is doing the right thing. History isn't being erased here, by the way … history remains history. Eliminating the use of demeaning images doesn't eliminate the history; it just eliminates the use of racial stereotypes to sell stuff.