by Allan Wall, August 6, 2020
Recently, two businesses have stood up the cancel culture bullies and refused to change their product branding to please the online mob.
Coincidentally, the names of both these businesses contain the name “Joe.”
My previous blog entry reported the case of Eskimo Joe’s, a successful restaurant in Stillwater, Oklahoma; the business was under attack for the use of the term “Eskimo,” wrongly characterized as a racial slur, and their logo, featuring a happy Eskimo and his dog, Buffy.
The company owns a companion restaurant called Mexico Joe’s, with advertising for that restaurant also coming under attack.
(For more information, and for a peek at the offensive logos, click here for the blog entry.)
Since the publication of said blog entry, the Eskimo Joe’s company made this announcement on August 3rd: “We want to thank the 30,000+ people who filled out our online survey. At this time, we will be keeping our name and logo.”
A more detailed statement read: “We received more than 30,000 heartfelt comments from our customers and the general public about our name and logo. The overwhelming majority – more than 90% – encouraged us to keep our branding of 45 years. They love Eskimo Joe and Buffy, who have always represented fun and excellent service while welcoming and respecting all people. As a company, we pride ourselves on giving our loyal customers what they want, so we currently plan to make no changes to our name and logo. We thank everyone who took the time to share their feedback.”
Eskimo Joe’s resisted the pressure and didn’t abandon their iconic name and logo.
But another company, featuring the name “Joe,” also came under attack.
That would be “Trader Joe’s,” a grocery chain store with headquarters in Monrovia, California, now with over 500 stores throughout the nation.
The “Joe” of Trader Joe’s refers to the late Joseph Coulombe, who founded the business in 1967. (It’s now owned by one of the ALDI companies.)
Why was Trader Joe’s under attack?
Did the store discriminate against a member of a minority group? Not to my knowledge.
The online attack on Trader Joe’s was over some of its products.
California high school student Briones Bedell launched a Change.org petition entitled Trader Joe’s: Remove Racist Packaging From Your Products. Sounds bad, but what’s she talking about?
The petition begins: “We demand that Trader Joe’s remove racist branding and packaging from its stores.”
How was the “branding and packaging” racist?
According to the petition, “The grocery chain labels some of its ethnic foods with modifications of ‘Joe’ that belies [sic] a narrative of exoticism that perpetuates harmful stereotypes. For example, ‘Trader Ming’s’ is used to brand the chain’s Chinese food, ‘Arabian Joe” brands Middle Eastern foods, ‘Trader José’ brands Mexican foods, ‘Trader Giotto’s’ is for Italian food, and ‘Trader Joe San’ brands their Japanese cuisine. “
Really, that’s racist?
In one example, Trader Joe’s sells Mexican products under the name Trader José.
José is the Spanish-language equivalent of the English name Joseph, although both languages “appropriated” the name from the Hebrew language. Should Israelis complain?
The petition also complains that Trader Joe’s founder Joe Coulombe, “Took inspiration in building the Trader Joe’s brand from a racist book and a controversial theme park attraction.”
That refers to the Disneyland Jungle Trip Ride and a 1919 book which the petition considers “racist.”
After the petition was launched, a statement indicated the company had been changing the names anyway.
But on July 24th, the company’s website announced that “… we want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist. We do not make decisions based on petitions.”
And, “We make decisions based on what customers purchase, as well as the feedback we receive from our customers and Crew Members. If we feel there is need for change, we do not hesitate to take action.
So Trader Joe’s will discontinue a product name if the product isn’t selling, but not because of an online PC attack.
Kudos to Trader Joe’s and to Eskimo Joe’s for defending their companies from today’s cancel culture hysteria.
Allan Wall’s writings can be found here.