Rebrand of 'racist' Coon cheese going ahead

The makers of Coon cheese are pushing ahead with plans to “retire” the brand over claims the name is racist.

Saputo Dairy Australia, the largest processor of dairy in the country, told they are currently in the process of developing a new name and look for the iconic product, after a successful campaign by Aboriginal activist Stephen Hagan.

“After thorough consideration, Saputo announced that we would be retiring our Coon Cheese brand name,” Saputo Dairy Australia told in a statement.

“We are currently working on the new brand development and look forward to revealing it to our customers and consumers once completed.”

It’s not yet clear when the new brand will be rolled out in stores.

Dr Hagan had campaigned for more than two decades for the company to change the name, first unsuccessfully complaining to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission about the company’s name in 1999. He recently said the name should be “consigned to the past of outdated racist brands’’.

The call to change the name was also joined by comedian and actor Josh Thomas, who prompted a heated debate online if he asked if people were still “chill” with the name.

The brand was named after American man Edward William Coon, who patented a cheese ripening process. However the name is also a deeply offensive racial slur.

RELATED: Coon cheese to dump ‘racist’ name after complaint from Aboriginal activist

Do you think Coon cheese should be rebranded?

Saputo’s commitment to the Coon rebrand comes on the back of changes to other product names, including the confectionary brands Red Skins and Chicos.

Under their new titles, Red Skins will be known as Red Ripper and Chicos will become Cheekies.

Nestle general manager confectionery Chris O’Donnell said the renamed products would appear on shelves early next year.

“Nestle has an unwavering commitment to upholding respect for our friends, neighbours and colleagues,” he said.

“We hope Australians will support the evolution of these two much-loved lollies – while the names are new, the lollies themselves remain unchanged.

“We will keep pack changes simple to help lolly lovers find their favourites easily.”

Dr Stephen Hagan successfully campaigned to have to have Coon Cheese renamed. Picture Lenn Campbell

Dr Stephen Hagan successfully campaigned to have to have Coon Cheese renamed. Picture Lenn CampbellSource:News Corp Australia

Saputo first announced it would be changing the name in July in the midst of Black Lives Matter protests which spread around the world following the killing of George Floyd in the US.

“At Saputo, one of our basic principles as an organisation is to treat people with respect and without discrimination and we will not condone behaviour that goes against this,” Saputo said.

“As such, we performed a careful and diligent review of a sensitive situation involving one of our brands. We wanted to ensure we listened to all the concerns surrounding the Coon® brand name, while also considering comments from consumers who cherish the brand and recognise the origin of its founder Edward William Coon, which they feel connected to.

“After thorough consideration, Saputo has decided to retire the Coon® brand name. We are working to develop a new brand name that will honour the brand-affinity felt by our valued consumers while aligning with current attitudes and perspectives.

“We believe we all share in the responsibility to eliminate racism in all its forms and we feel this is an important step we must take to uphold this commitment.”

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