May 12, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Why do Pascall, Tip Top and Subway encourage racist food marketing?

4 min read

Every kiwi kid loves them – eskimo piesand eskimo lollies. They are a tradition in most whanau. When we have a kai hakari, there are always lollies in the middle of the table and more often than not, theres a few eskimo lollies in there.

pascall_hero_eskimo@2x1But imagine if Pascalls made head shaped lollies with a taa moko on them and called them Horis? I doubt if those would be on sale for very long.

During the holidays, our tamariki noticed both the lollies and the ice cream and said to me, Papa, thats not a good name for kai ey?. And something inside me began to stir.

A few years back, we heard a korero from Seeka Lee Veevee Parsons, 21, an Inuit of the Nunavut Territory in Canada, who was shocked to see eskimo lollies for sale here in Aotearoa. She put a complaint forward to Cadbury Pascalls, which was ultimately rejected, but did raise many interesting points.

Eskimo-PieThe history of the Eskimo Pies draws back to Iowa, USA, when Danish immigrant Christian Kent Nelson, a schoolteacher and candy store owner, claimed to have received the inspiration for the Eskimo Pie in 1920, when a boy in his store was unable to decide whether to spend his money on ice cream or a chocolate bar. After experimenting with different ways to adhere melted chocolate to bricks of ice cream, Nelson began selling his invention under the name “I-Scream Bars.”

In 1921, he filed for a patent, and secured an agreement with local chocolate producer Russell C. Stover to mass-produce them under the new trademarked name “Eskimo Pie” (a name suggested by Mrs. Stover), and to create the Eskimo Pie Corporation. After patent, Nelson franchised the product, allowing ice cream manufacturers to produce them under that name. They have since been sold here for decades.

Similarly, the Eskimo Lolly first hit shop shelves way back in 1955. They are a marshmallow sweet, shaped to look like an eskimo woman and are still quite popular throughout the country.

Still, does that make it right to continue selling goods that offend and are seen by many as outright racist?

NFC-Logo-WASAt the same time, to those of us who have been following calls to rename the Washington Redskins team in the NFL (National Football League), we all agree that times are different and that names of national significance cannot sit comfortably if there are racist overtones and are seen as derogatory to a section of society.

Lawsuits in the US were filed by Native American groups who considered the Washington Redskins name and logo disparaging, with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) voted to cancel the six Redskins trademarks in a 2-to-1 vote. The name was called “disparaging to Native Americans” by the patent office.

This followed a decades long struggle by First Nations & Native American groups to have the name changed and to stop the use of the term scalping by sports commentators whenever the team lost.

The Onieda Indian Nation believed that more Americans would favor changing the team name of the Washington NFL club if they understood the full context of what the Oneidas and others consider a racial slur.

Then this evening, while watching TV and preparing this korero, we noticed the Subway commercial which had a background song mentioning Geronimo.

a9366f50Geronimo was a prominent leader of the Bedonkohe Apache who fought against Mexico and Texas for their expansion into Apache tribal lands for several decades during the Apache Wars.

As a rangatira, he inspired many during and after his life yet suffered persecution, as did most tribes at the hands of the settler American Government.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 3.40.37 amThe name Geronimo was used by US armed forces when jumping out of a plane or when heading into battle.

It is also the name of the song by Australian band, Sheppard that is currently being used in the Subway ad.

While some may consider this a harmless waiata, to us it demonstrates the mainstream ignorance of indigenous cultures and the arrogance of white privilege.

We here at have raised the issue a number of times when local New Zealand companies incorrectly used Native American imagery and symbols, such as the racist poster used by Rhythm and Vines in 2014, which was removed after a public outcry that started on social media.rnv

Still, this entire kaupapa raises an important issue: how can indigenous communities be respected when mainstream culture allow racist, offensive and derogatory representations to persist?

In the US, the Washington Redskins cite polls which claim that only a small number of the public want the change and have since appealed thetrademark ruling.

Here at home, we will continue to ask the question of both Tip Top (which is owned by Fonterra) about the appropriateness of Eskimo Pies, as well as point out to both Cadbury Pascall and Subway on the use of Eskimo lollies and the song Geronimo. Even if we don’t influencechange, it is better to remind these giant money making corporates that we are still here and still watching, and to remind our tamariki that their indigenous culture will be respected and that we will no longer purchase these racist foods.

Kia kaha e nga hapu e nga iwi o te Ao marama. Ka whawhai tonu matou. Ake. Ake.


For more reading check out:

Eskimo Lollies –

History of Eskimo Pie –

Eskimo Lolly no Name Change –

Washington Redskins Name Change –

Rhythm and Vines Racist Poster –

Geronimo –

Subway Video –

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