Food & Wine
Iconic Coon cheese unveils new name after racism claims
The makers of Coon Cheese have rebranded after bowing to public pressure amid racism claims.
The cheese was originally named "Coon" after American cheese pioneer Edward William Coon, but the word is also a racist slur against people of colour.
The 85-year-old dairy product will now be known as "Cheer cheese" from July, a decision that was made six months ago in response to growing criticisms of racism.
“The name Cheer has the significance of pleasure and joy,’ Saputo chief executive Lino A. Saputo said.
“We took some time to think about this, we wanted to do the proper due diligence and consulted with different focus groups and we narrowed it down to three to five names and resoundingly consumers thought this was the right reflection of what we’re bringing for families."
“CHEER Cheese is a cheese for everyone, and we trust our valued consumers and those who are new to our products will embrace this new name.”
“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,” the company said in a statement.
Despite the cheerful name change, there was an outpouring of anger on social media after the name change was announced.
One person said: “Absolutely bulls..t. I won’t ever call it that.”
“I’m an Aussie and our Coon cheese is getting a name change to cheer cheese – another Aussie icon name gone,” another said.
“How ridiculous. It may well be a racist slur, but was the gentleman’s surname. Cheer cheese? I mean, really?” one woman wrote.
The new products will be on supermarket shelves nationwide from July 2021.