Cheesy or commendable? Coon unveils new name

Jan 13, 2021
The popular cheese will officially be renamed in July this year. Source: Getty/Woolworths.

The maker of Coon cheese has unveiled the new name of the dairy product, following calls for the controversial brand name to be dumped.

Canadian-owned Saputo Dairy Australia, which bought the Coon cheese brand in 2015, confirmed the news in a statement on Tuesday, revealing the well-known cheese will be renamed ‘Cheer Cheese’ from July this year.

“Treating people with respect and without discrimination is one of our basic principles and it is imperative that we continue to uphold this in everything we do,” Lino A. Saputo, CEO of Saputo, said. “Our decision to change the name of Australia’s much-loved cheese reinforces this commitment to build a culture of acceptance, inclusion and respect, where everyone feels a sense of belonging.”

Meanwhile, Cam Bruce, commercial director for Saputo Dairy Australia, reassured customers the recipe would go unchanged. “Cheer Cheese is the same recipe that millions have come to love, and will continue to grow up with for generations to come,” he said. “We remain committed to our Australian farmers, who continue to produce the high-quality milk that goes into all of our products, including Cheer Cheese.”

Saputo Dairy Australia’s decision follows a wave of calls to scrap the name, which has long been criticised as racist, despite being named after American inventor Edward William Coon, who patented a unique ripening process that was used to manufacture the original cheese.

Australian comedian Josh Thomas called out the brand name earlier this year, when he argued that it is offensive and disrespectful towards Indigenous Australians. The word is an extremely offensive slur when used to describe a black person.

Despite such calls to change the name, there was an outpouring of criticism online after the announcement by Saputo. Twitter user @sophieelsworth said, “Cheer cheese? Ridiculous name. Bowing to a minority, won’t be buying it. Bega all the way.” 

Meanwhile, @ronInBendigo commented, “Cheer Cheese. Hahaha … Oh dear … did someone actually get paid for that name?”

And while @mvyrmnd was all for the name change, he didn’t quite understand the new name, saying, “I agree with the principle of changing the name, but Cheer Cheese just doesn’t roll off the tongue.”

Saputo Dairy Australia is the latest brand to take such action in line with the recent Black Lives Matter movement. In November last year, Nestle unveiled the new names of its Allen’s Red Skins and Chico lollies. Red Skins are now known as Red Ripper and Chicos are simply now called Cheekies.

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