Is this the end of Coon cheese? Canadian owners set to drop the iconic Aussie brand’s name over fears of offending Aboriginal people – despite its innocent origin
- Saputo Dairy is ‘examining’ calls to rename Australian brand Coon cheese
- Aboriginal activist Stephen Hagan wrote to the company calling for change
- The Australian manufacturer claims the product was named after Edward Coon
Coon cheese could be renamed in a matter of weeks as its Canadian owner considers bowing to pressure from people who claim it is offensive to Aboriginal people.
Saputo Dairy has faced complaints that the name of its cheese is racist, despite it being named after Edward William Coon, who patented a ‘ripening process’ that was used to manufacture the original product in the 1920s.
Activists recently renewed calls to change the cheese’s name as the Black Lives Matter movement gathered momentum in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
Coon cheese could be the next casualty in the war to tear down historical icons with racial overtones
Leading the call for an overhaul of the brand name is Aboriginal activist Stephen Hagan.
The businessman contacted Canadian CEO Lindo Saputo Junior by email last month to try and have Coon cheese pulled from the shelves after years of lobbying, The Australian reported.
It’s not his first attempt to have the dairy product banned, after lodging a complaint with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission back in 1999 for the same purpose.
Leading the call for an overhaul of the brand name is Aboriginal activist Stephen Hagan (pictured)
Saputo Dairy is considering bowing to public pressure to rename the Australian brand Coo Cheese (pictured) after ongoing complaints the name is racist towards Aboriginal people
In his email correspondence, Dr Hagan said the brand name should be ‘consigned to the past of outdated racist brands’.
Dr Hagan said the word ‘coon’ is demeaning to people of colour, particularly First Nations people in Australia because it was used by oppressors to belittle them as a race.
He also asked the company to investigate the origins of the company’s name, amid doubts over the existence of Edward Coon.
Saputo thanked Dr Hagan for raising the issue and promised to outline any proposed changes to the name in the coming weeks.
An image circulating online shows Donald Glover holding up Coon branded cheese in an Australian supermarket
‘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,’ the email said.
‘This guiding belief applies to our brand names as well. We would never tolerate any behaviour, activity or branding that goes against these values.’
Australian comedian Josh Thomas has also called for the name of the cheese to be changed.
The Please Like Me star shared a photo of the cheese product last month alongside the caption: ‘Are we still chill with this?’
Another proponent to change the name is Australian comedian Josh Thomas who shared a photo of Coon cheese – found in supermarkets across Australia – alongside the caption: ‘Are we still chill with this?’
Thomas argued it was out of touch to still honour the cheese’s creator Edward William Coon
Production of the brand in Australia started in 1935 and continued through to 1942 before the war disrupted production, the company’s website says.
Manufacturing restarted in 1948 at Allansford in western Victoria and was made at the time in a red waxed cloth known as ‘Red Coon’.
The potential fall comes a month after Nestlé admitted to being ‘out of step’ over Allens Lollies brand confectionery Chicos and Red Skins.
The company will be renaming the popular lollies after complaints the names were racially offensive to Mexicans and Native Americans respectively.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Saputo Dairy for comment.
The potential fall comes a month after Nestlé admitted to being ‘out of step’ over Allens Lollies brand confectionery Chicos and Red Skins (pictured)