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‘Offensive’ Eskimo Pie brand set to be retired in Australia, US

Eskimo Pie
A woman eats an Eskimo Pie in the US.
Eskimo Pie
A woman eats an Eskimo Pie in the US.

US dairy company Dreyers is to change the name of its 100-year-old Eskimo Pie ice cream brand to Edy’s Pie after concluding the name was “offensive”. 

And the brand’s Australian licensee Peters will follow suit, rebranding the product Polar Pie.

Eskimo PIe was licensed to South Australia’s Alaska Ice Cream company in 1923 and is now produced by Peters. In New Zealand, the brand was introduced in the 1940s and is manufactured by Tip Top, which has already announced it will be retired.

Eskimo Pie – a chocolate coated ice cream wrapped in foil – was invented by Danish immigrant to the US Christian Kent Nelson a schoolteacher and candy store owner, according to Wikipedia. He “claimed to have received the inspiration for the Eskimo Pie in 1920 in Onawa, Iowa, when a boy in his store was unable to decide whether to spend his money on ice cream or a chocolate bar”.

Fast forward a century and Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream acknowledged the brand name was offensive back in July, part of a slew of brand corrections in recent months which has included Mars’ Uncle Ben’s and PepsiCo’s Aunt Jemima’s in the US and Saputo’s Coon cheese in Australia.   

From next year, the US Eskimo Pie will be sold as Edy’s Pie, the name of one of the company’s founders, Joseph Edy and already used as a brand in parts of the US.

In Australia, Peters country head Emma-Jane Collins told Inside FMCG that Polar Pie retains “a strong association back to the original brand and product idea which was a frozen treat you eat much like a pie – whilst aligning with our values, and current attitudes and perspectives”.

“Peters Ice Cream is committed to being a part of the solution on racial equality and we acknowledge that now is the time for change.”

Tip Top said in June it would retire the name, while confectionery brand Pascall plans to rebrand its Eskimo lollies. 

Peters Eskimo Pie in Australia.

According to News Corp, quoting Lawrence Kaplan from the University of Alaska’s Alaska Native Language Centre, the term ‘Eskimo’ was considered a “colonial term” and is now “receding from common use”. 

“Although the name ‘Eskimo’ was commonly used in Alaska to refer to Inuit and Yupik people of the world, this usage is now considered unacceptable by many or even most Alaska Natives, largely since it is a colonial name imposed by non-Indigenous people,” Kaplan said.

Early Eskimo Pie promotional material (source: Wikipedia).

“Alaska Natives increasingly prefer to be known by the names they use in their own languages, such as Inupiaq or Yupik. ‘Inuit’ is now the current term in Alaska and across the Arctic, and ‘Eskimo’ is fading from use.”

Elizabell Marquez, the head of marketing for Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, said the company was  “committed to being a part of the solution on racial equality”.

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