You never know what you're going to find at the supermarket: the neighbor you thought never left the house, a buy-one, get-one free cookie special, intriguing new "limited edition" pop tarts. And, sometimes, perhaps, racism. I don't expect supermarket to be rigidly politically correct, but there are a few products gracing the shelves that make me feel a tad uncomfortable because of questionable marketing. Here are my top five politically incorrect food icons.
5. Aunt Jemima. Well, at least they removed her kerchief. Although she may no longer exactly embody the "black mammy," Aunt Jemima still doesn't sit right with em. Her excessively appeasing countenance and servile demeanor don't make her the best representative of black women, who, as you may have noticed, can do a lot more than make good pancakes.
4. Lucky the Leprechaun. Really, you say? Consider my full name (Joanna Shawn Brigid O'Leary), and you'll see why this loony leprechaun touches a nerve. It irritates me that Ireland is still depicted as the land of make-believe creatures, "quaint," slow-talking villagers, and boorish drunks. Even more annoying is Lucky's broken brogue, as epitomized in his catch-phrase, "Hands off me lucky charms!" Well, feck off, General Mills!
3. Chiquita Banana Woman. Recently, Chiquita redesigned its signature stickers in an attempt to "modernize" its well-known mascot. But the original drawing still rears its (fruit-laden) head on bananas. With a Latina (finally) on the Supreme Court, is a scantily clad, buxom Hispanic woman really still an acceptable way to sell produce?
2. Uncle Ben. Apparently, Uncle Ben is named after an actual farmer who was known for growing high-quality rice. Well, that's all fine and good, but then, why is this accomplished agrarian dressed like a 1950s cocktail waiter? Not to mention the fact that referring to a happy-go-lucky African-American man as "uncle" is also profoundly unsettling (ahem, "Uncle Tom").
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1. Land O' Lakes Woman. I'm wary of calling this mascot "Native American" since the ad geniuses at Land O'Lakes seem to have combined the traditional dress of a thousand-odd tribes into one ridiculous stereotype. And I'm even more perplexed as to why a Sacajawea-esque figure is the enduring symbol of high-quality butter. If you're going to be offensive, at least make sense. Make the LOL icon an Aryan dairymaid and offend legions of Swiss-Americans.
P.S. Don't like my list? This one is even better.