Eskimo Pie, the company behind the chocolate-covered ice cream treat, is joining the recent slew of other companies in changing its name and marketing, much to the chagrin of people who don’t understand the sensitivity issues behind the snack’s name.
Eskimo Pie has been in grocery stores for almost 100 years, but now the head of marketing at Eskimo Pie’s parent company Dreyer, Elizabell Marquez, is saying it’s time to shift gears.
“We are committed to being a part of the solution on racial equality, and recognize the term [Eskimo] is derogatory. This move is part of a larger review to ensure our company and brands reflect our people’s values,” she said.
The brand’s packaging features a little boy with dark hair and a fur-lined coat, sometimes shown riding a sled. The name “Eskimo” was supposed to “evoke the chilly north and the indigenous people who lived there,” says a 2017 article in Smithsonian Magazine. However, the term “Eskimo” is widely considered to be a derogatory name for some native people in the Arctic regions.
According to NPR, “Eskimo” was commonly used by racist, non-native colonizers who would sometimes use it to imply the people were barbarians and violent. Mid-century anthropologists believe the term comes from the Latin word excommunicati, meaning the “excommunicated ones” since the native people of the Arctic were not Christian.
Thus “Eskimo” is soiled by a history of racism and colonialism, which is why the term Inuit — which means “people” — is preferred.
The brand’s announcement caused backlash on Twitter from many people who personally didn’t find the name offensive. Most of the angry Tweeters appear to be white based on their icons, including Donald Trump Jr. who quote tweeted the New York Post’s article and said, “The bull**** never ends.”
Eskimo Pie’s announcement comes within days of Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s, Cream of Wheat and Mrs. Butterworth’s all announcing rebranding in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, started in response to the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as the numerous Black people who have lost their lives to police brutality.
If you want to read more about companies rebranding, read up on Land O’Lakes’ major revamp.
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