Coon cheese may finally undergo a rebrand following claims the historic brand’s name is racist.
The cheese has been produced in Australia since 1935 – yet is Canadian owned – with multiple local owners refusing to change the brand’s name.
Owner of the brand Saputo has revealed it will consider renaming Coon cheese as part of its corporate stance against racism.
On June 14, Aussie comedian Josh Thomas sparked a fierce debate about the name of iconic Australian cheese brand – Coon.
It followed similar call-outs that Kelloggs-owned Coco Pops was racist. Coco Pops is promoted with a monkey, while Rice Krispies (or Rice Bubbles in Australia), has three white-skinned characters on its box.
Thomas took to Twitter with an image of the product alongside the caption: “Hey Australia – are we still chill with this?”
Hey Australia – are we still chill with this? pic.twitter.com/3pY2wyZ3IY
— Josh Thomas (@JoshThomas87) June 14, 2020
His post received over one thousand comments and 230 retweets, with people agreeing and disagreeing with his post.
However, on Saputo Dairy Australia’s website, owner of Coon Cheese, there is an explanation behind the name.
The company says Coon was named in recognition of “the work of an American, Edward William Coon, who patented a unique ripening process that was used to manufacture the original Coon cheese”.
Saputo have promised to examine “this situation very thoroughly” and make a decision on the cheese brand’s name in the coming weeks.
The formerly hard-line stance against rebranding the cheese name was softened following a campaign by Indigenous activist and author Stephen Hagan, who has spent decades attempting to get Coon’s owners to change the name.
“People of colour, especially First Nations people in Australia, are offended by that brand name in use in this country since November 1935, as it is a celebrated term used by our oppressors — many of which are found in government, corporate and civic leader ranks — to demean and subjugating us as a race,’’ Hagan wrote in an email to Saputo, reported by The Australian.
Saputo replied to Hagan: “One of our basic principles as an organisation is to respect individuals and groups of all backgrounds and to not condone discrimination in any shape or form.
“This guiding belief applies to our brand names as well. We would never tolerate any behaviour, activity or branding that goes against these values.”