'Times have changed': Push for Australia's iconic Coon cheese to be renamed because of its use as a racial slur

This is an old controversy.  Back in 1999 Aboriginal activist Stephen Hagan lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission about the name "Coon" on a popular brand of cheese. It's a brand I sometimes buy myself.

Hagan got nowhere with the Commission and I believe he went on to put the case before a UN human rights agency also with no useful outcome.

Racial sensitivities have been hugely amplified recently however so the outcome may differ this time.  Owners of the brand have been very resistant to abandoning it, however so the outcome is far from certain.  The brand has a good reputation so is worth money to them

The brand no longer "honours" anyone.  It is just an identifier for a popular brand of cheese

Australian comedian Josh Thomas is leading calls for the country's Coon cheese to be renamed because of its historical use as a racist slur.

The Please Like Me star shared a photo of the cheese product - found in supermarkets across Australia - alongside the caption: 'Are we still chill with this?'

The cheese made by the Warrnambool Cheese and Dairy Company in Victoria is named after its American creator Edward William Coon, who patented the unique ripening process behind the brand.

But Thomas argued it was out of touch to still honour the cheese's creator more than 85 years after his death while disrespecting those for whom the term is still an ethnic slur.

'It's amazing the respect people have for the name of a man who invented a processing technique of cheese - who died in 1934. And the disrespect they have for black people,' he wrote on Twitter.

The word is pejorative when used as a reference to those with dark-coloured skin - including those of African-American or Aboriginal descent.

Coon's Canadian owner Saputo bought the Warrnambool Cheese and Dairy Company in 2017 and is also behind the popular Mersey Valley and Sun Gold brands. 

Production of the brand in Australia started in 1935 and continued through to 1942 before the war disrupted production, the company's website says.

Manufacturing restarted in 1948 at Allansford in western Victoria and was made at the time in a red waxed cloth known as 'Red Coon'.


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