The popular brand, which is sold in China, the Philippines, Thailand and other Asian countries, has long been criticized for using racist images. The brand is sold in Chinese as a “black person for teeth” and was sold using the racial epithet Darkie until its name was changed in 1989.
“We have been working together for more than 35 years to develop the brand, including significant name, logo and packaging changes. We are currently working with our partner to review and further develop all aspects of the brand, including the brand name,” the company told Reuters.
Protests erupted around the world after a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota killed Floyd, an unarmed Negro. The campaign against racial injustice has also sparked a strike in the corporate world, with some companies choosing to acknowledge the racist roots of their business.
Darlie is manufactured by Hawley & Hazel, a company founded in Shanghai and now headquartered in Hong Kong. Toothpaste became part of Colgate’s product line when Colgate acquired a 50% stake in Hawley & Hazel in 1985.
“The CEO thought Jolson’s wide smile and bright teeth would make a great toothpaste logo,” author Kerry Segrave wrote in the book.
After Colgate entered into its joint venture with Hawley & Hazel, U.S. church groups encouraged the company to discontinue the Darkie brand, according to Segrave. Colgate relented in 1989, renamed Darkie to Darlie and redesigned the logo.
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