Cursed be the cheesemakers.
Be it known that I, EDWARD WILLIAM Coon, a citizen of the United States, residing at 29 South St., Philadelphia, in the county of Philadelphia and State of Pennsylvania, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Processes for Ripening Cheese, and do hereby declare the following to be a full, clear, and exact description of the invention, such as will enable others skilled in the art to which it appertains to make and use the same.
That’s a patent application by Edward William Coon in 1926. Coon’s useful process for ripening cheese led to a cheese being named after him. And, considering the current state of affairs, you can probably guess the rest of the story.
Coon’s name has the misfortune of also having been used as a racial slur at some point, though I don’t think it’s been in use in a long time, which means that the axe must fall on the Australian brand of cheese bearing his name.
Coon cheese’s name will be changed after a campaign by activists who said it had racist connotations.
Coon’s owners, dairy products company Saputo, confirmed the change Friday after being written a letter of complaint in June by activist Stephen Hagan, who has been fighting for 20 years to have the name changed.
“I said that the cheese brand was offensive, I said that it demeans people of colour,” Dr Hagan told the ABC on Friday.
“I said that it was unacceptable as a brand in 2020.”
“If I didn’t make a stand, we would still be eating Coon cheese in another 20 years’ time,” he said.
Good thing that was solved. You can still buy He’Brew Beer though.
Using Mr. Coon’s name as a racial slur is pretty much extinct. I have no idea if it was ever even an issue in Australia. The term came out of American culture and raccoons don’t even exist in Australia. If you wanted it to go doubly extinct, having it be associated with a brand of cheese seems like a good approach. But of course the whole point is to keep this thing around indefinitely.
Dr Hagan said he had several other ongoing fights, including to change racist place names and landmarks.
“Tomorrow is another day, you got to look at another social ill that needs to be addressed,” he said.