Australian food firm finally changes ‘racist’ Coon Cheese brand after defending label for 80 years

A CHEESY snack has been rebranded by its manufacturer after years of complaints that it shared its name with a racial slur.

‘Coon Cheese’, which has been sold in Australia for more than 80 years, is being rebranded as “Cheer Cheese”, its manufacturer Saputo Dairy Australia said today.

The new brand would be rolled out in Australian supermarkets in July. The decision to rebrand the cheese line was made last summer, and came as other major food companies were forced to rethink the names or branding of some well-known products.

Mars, which owns rice brand Uncle Ben’s, announced last year that it would “evolve” the visual brand identity of the line. 

“Racism has no place in society. We stand in solidarity with the Black community, our Associates and our partners in the fight for social justice,” the statement added. 

Mars explained on its website that Uncle Ben is a fictional character whose name was first used in 1946 as a reference to an African American Texan male rice farmer.

Quaker Oats’ Aunt Jemima ‘butter lite’ syrup also announced it would be changing branding that was considered racially offensive.

Saputo had faced criticism about its “Coon” cheese for decades. 

While the company had insisted the brand name paid homage to its founder, Edward William Coon, the word was also widely known to be an insulting racial slur directed at people of colour.

The change followed on from more than two decades of campaigning by Inidigenous activist Stephen Hagan, according to Australian news outlet 9News.

Lino A. Saputo released a statement about the change, which said that treating people with respect and without discrimination was “one of [Saputo’s] basic principles”.

“It is imperative that we continue to uphold this in everything we do,” he said.

The company reassured customers that the recipe would remain unchanged. 

The decision to change the name was made during last year’s Black Lives Matter protests in July, following substantial controversy over recent years.

After six months of deliberation, the company settled on the name CHEER, with focus groups having decided the product was synonymous with happiness and joy.

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