Whoa: Coon Cheese is rebranding into something not a slur. The cheese has been produced in Australia since 1935 and multiple owners have resisted calls to change the brand’s name, so this is bloody huge.
Coon’s current owner, Canadian company Saputo, issued a statement this afternoon.
“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,” a spokesperson said.
“After thorough consideration, Saputo has decided to retire the COON brand name.”
It’s the result of campaigning by Indigenous activist and author Stephen Hagan, who’s spent literal decades trying to convince Coon’s rotating roster of 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,’’ he said in an email to Saputo, reported by The Australian.
Both Kraft and Dairy Farmers, both previous owners of Coon Cheese, have resisted calls to change the name.
But Saputo – perhaps spurred on by the recent Black Lives Matter protests – is on board.
“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,’’ a company spokesperson wrote in a reply to Hagan, also reported by The Australian.
“This guiding belief applies to our brand names as well. We would never tolerate any behaviour, activity or branding that goes against these values.”
Saputo recently signed on the Business Council of Canada’s statement denouncing racism “unequivocally” in “all its forms”.
“We all share in the responsibility to eliminate racism,” the statement said.
Coon is named after its American creator, Edward William Coon, who filed a patent for his cheese ripening process (later known as ‘Cooning’) in 1926.
Hagan, however, has previously cast doubt on this origin story, telling AAP in 2008 he thought it was named as a joke.
No doubt the right-wing commentators will have a drawn-out meltdown over this, oscillating between decrying that a Canadian company can dictate an Australian brand (that’s how corporate structures work, dinguses) and claiming this doesn’t solve real issues of racism, anyway, but from our part – hell yeah. Get Coon Cheese into the bin of out-dated brand names where it belongs.