The makers of Coon Cheese have bowed to public pressure and finally changed the name of the longstanding brand.
The 85-year-old dairy product will be known as ‘Cheer Cheese’ from July, its parent company Saputo Dairy Australia confirmed on Tuesday.
The decision to make a change was made six months ago in response to growing criticism that the name had racist connotations.
It was originally named ‘Coon’ after American cheese pioneer Edward William Coon who died in 1934.
But the word is also a racist slur against people of colour.
“The name Cheer has the significance of pleasure and joy,’ Saputo’s 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.
Last year the company said it decided to retire the long standing name as the Black Lives Matter movement made its way around the globe.
“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.
While some praised the new name, there was an outpouring of criticism on social media shortly after the news 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.
Others argued there was no issue with the name to begin with, as it was named after its founder.
“How ridiculous. It may well be a racist slur, but was the gentleman’s surname. Cheer cheese? I mean, really?” one woman wrote.
One person described it as “cancel culture at its best”.