Dreyer’s Ice Cream will change the derogatory name of its Eskimo Pie product, the latest in a series of brand decisions that attempt to root out racism in marketing.
Following the police killing of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, the nation has seen widespread protests against police brutality and the legacy of systemic racism in all facets of American life—including branding. That’s prompted brands including Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s, Mrs. Butterworth’s and Cream of Wheat to commit to change branding that taps into nostalgia for slavery.
Other brands with problematic mascots, like the NFL’s Washington Redskins and Chiquita Banana, have also come under fire amid the nationwide reckoning with its racist history. Land O’Lakes quietly removed its mascot, a Native American woman, from its label earlier this year. Eskimo Pie was one of several other Native American mascots that have yet to be removed.
“We are committed to being a part of the solution on racial equality, and recognize the term is inappropriate,” said Elizabell Marquez, head of marketing for Dreyer’s, in a statement to The New York Times. “This move is part of a larger review to ensure our company and brands reflect our people values.”
Eskimo Pie was invented in 1920 by Christian K. Nelson. Though the term “Eskimo” is commonly used in Alaska to refer to all Inuit and Yupik peoples, it’s considered derogatory in many parts of the world because it was given and used by non-Inuit people and said to mean “eater of raw meat,” denoting barbarism and violence.
It marks a dramatic turnaround from earlier this year, when brands were unwilling to comment on the state of problematic mascots—even after removing them, in the case of Land O’Lakes. Two short months and dozens of anti-racist protests later, brands are updating bad mascots in an attempt to regain relevancy in a society facing a long-awaited cultural upheaval.
While Eskimo Pie was previously a Nestle property, the company announced late last year that it would sell its ice cream division—including Dreyer’s, Häagen-Dazs and Drumstick—to U.K.-based Froneri. The deal closed in January.
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