01:32 - Source: CNN
These are the racist origins of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben's
London CNN Business —  

Nestlé is rebranding its Red Skins and Chicos sweets, saying that their controversial names — which feature offensive racial overtones — are “out of step” with the company’s values.

The products, which are sold in Australia, have prompted complaints for several years.

Allen’s, the Nestlé (NSRGF) brand which produces the sweets, said in a statement posted to Facebook on Tuesday that the decision to rename the products was made to avoid marginalizing its friends, neighbors and colleagues.

Red Skins are chewy, raspberry-flavored sweets, and “redskin” is a slur used to describe Native Americans. Chicos are brown, jelly snacks molded in the shape of a person, and “chico” is a Spanish word meaning “boys,” “kids” or “small.”

Allen’s said it had received comments from customers “on the need for change.”

New names for the products have not yet been finalized, according to Allen’s.

Nestlé confirmed in a statement to CNN that, in addition to Red Skins and Chicos, the Swiss food and beverage giant would also rename its Beso de Negra marshmallow treats. The confectionery brand, sold in Colombia, translates as kiss from a black woman.

“A diverse and inclusive culture is the foundation of our strength. Nestlé’s values are rooted in respect, and we have zero tolerance for racism or discrimination of any form,” Nestlé said in the statement.

“As part of this process, we are immediately renaming and redesigning a handful of local brands we have found that use stereotypes or insensitive cultural depictions,” the statement added.

Nestlé said it is carrying out a “full review” of its portfolio of more than 2,000 brands and 25,000 products. “This will identify any required changes to our use of imagery or language,” the company said.

The NFL franchise in Washington, DC is also called the Redskins, which has prompted widespread controversy in the United States for years. The team’s majority owner has long resisted calls to change the name.

Several other food brands, such as Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s, have recently confirmed they will change product names that are now widely understood to be racially offensive. Last week, Eskimo Pie ice cream said it would do the same.

The changes have been prompted by a wave of protests around the world following the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, and ensuing conversations about the lingering racism in society, culture and marketing.

This story has been updated to reflect the meaning of the candies’ original names.