Offensive Racial Images Used for Marketing

From watermelon eaters to monkeys, black folk have been at the center of offensive products and exploitative advertising campaigns for decades.

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Nicole L. Cvetnic/The Root

There is a history of national and international businesses and corporations using black stereotypes for the sake of product marketing. Here is a look at just a few examples that we found from around the world. Some of these are still on shelves today.

Watermelon Soda

This product was available in New York-area Target stores in 2009 and featured a black girl eating a watermelon. Target quickly removed the product.

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Screenshot/YouTube

Darkie Toothpaste

This Chinese product was sold until 1985. Colgate bought the company in 1984 and changed the name to “Darlie.”

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Screenshot/YouTube

Nigger Head Oysters

In August 1955, the Aughinbaugh Canning Co. of Mississippi renamed its Nigger Head Brand oysters Negro Head Brand after repeated pressure from the NAACP.

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Jet Magazine, 1955

Black Man Cookies

Made by Çağla Çikolata and popular in Romania and Turkey, this racially offensive dessert uses a black man to embody a chocolate cookie.

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Gawker

Tre Mori Co.

Established in 1951, this Italian company’s logo is offensive. It appears to feature tre mori, or three Moors, with facial features resembling those of a monkey.

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Nicole L. Cvetnic/The Root

Nigger Hair Tobacco

Nigger Hair Tobacco was sold by the American Tobacco Co. of Wisconsin and changed its name to Bigger Hair Tobacco in the late 1920s.

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The Milwaukee Journal, Nov. 19, 1913

Aunt Jemima 

She has been the face of pancakes and syrup since the late 1880s. And though the logo has been revamped over the years to be less offensive, it was born out of a racial stereotype: black women and servitude.

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Wikimedia Commons

Uncle Ben’s

First depicted in 1946 as a domestic servant with a bow tie, Uncle Ben brings to mind Jim Crow. “Uncle” was a common appellation used in the South to refer to an older black male slave or servant. The logo has since been updated.

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Houston Press

Japanese Afro Cookie

These black "melon pan" cookies, sold by a Japanese company, feature anime character Afro Tanaka from the series by Masaharu Noritsuke. Clever packaging, terribly racist.

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Pinterest

Cream of Wheat

Like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, the Cream of Wheat logo was a product of the antebellum South. “Rastus,” a pejorative term associated with black men, was the name of the African-American character who appeared on packages of Cream of Wheat cereal in the late 1800s.

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Wikimedia Commons

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