Canadian-owned Saputo Dairy Australia today announced the company would replace the racist COON brand name. From June, the product will be rebranded as CHEER Cheese. The decision comes after decades of brand owners defending a racist slur. Various companies previously claimed the cheese took its name from brand ‘founder’, E W Coon.
Destiny Rogers recently co-authored the eBook COON: more holes than swiss cheese with Aboriginal academic and activist Dr Stephen Hagan.
Notably, today’s announcement omits all mention of Edward William Coon. Brand owners, including Saputo, previously claimed Coon invented the process used to make the cheese. However, our research for COON: more holes than swiss cheese found absolutely no evidence to support that claim.
In fact, research shows it is improbable the cheese was named for Edward William Coon.
Kraft first mentioned Coon in 1988 in response to accusations of racism. Despite offering Red COON Cheese for sale in Australia from 1931, the company never previously referenced the obscure American cheesemaker.
E W Coon a racist
Ironically, the man they chose to defend accusations of racism, was in fact, himself a racist.
In 1905, Coon placed a classified ad for domestic help. In the ad, he specified he wanted a ‘white man’. The Philadelphia Inquirer contained over 350 ‘Male Help Wanted’ ads that day. Yet only E W Coon and one other advertiser wore their racism on their sleeve and proclaimed their prejudice in print. Only Coon and a bloke looking for a coachman specified they would accept only white applicants.
From 1989, brand owners advertised a mythical Dr E W Coon who bore as much resemblance to the real man as the Energiser Bunny to a rabbit. Coon was never awarded the honorary doctorate Kraft claimed for him. He did commence study for a science degree at the University of Pennsylvania. However, he left at the end of his Sophomore year without obtaining the degree.
The university publishes a list of all honorary doctorates and degrees it ever awarded stretching back to the 1700s. Probably, because so many people falsely claim such awards. Bill Cosby’s name is on the list. Edward William Coon’s is not.
Most outrageously, the COON history claimed Australia’s Fred Walker travelled to meet Coon and learn the secret of his patent in the late 1930s. Impossible. They were both dead.
In the ninety years since Kraft-Walker first released Red COON Cheese, brand owners have not produced so much as a letter as evidence of the claim.
Surely, someone wrote to Coon.
“Hey Edward, can we name our budget cheddar after you?”
The sole evidence ever put forward was a link to a patent E W Coon registered in 1926 for processing cheese. However, Kraft-Walker never registered that patent in Australia.
Besides, what does it prove?
Dick A Miller patented a process for slicing cheese in 1968 and later assigned the patent to Kraft.
Kraft did not then start advertising Dick Cheese.
A patent of itself means nothing unless the process was used in the production of the cheese. Our research shows Australia’s COON Cheese is a very different product to cheese made according to E W Coon’s patent.
But speaking of Dick Cheese, many Australians have suggested Saputo should have rebranded the cheese as Kuhn. They assume Edward Coon anglicised his name from the German Kuhn because of anti-German sentiment. However, if the brand was based on Coon’s birthname of Edward Willie Coons, either Willie or White Kuntz Cheese would be more appropriate. More on that tomorrow.
It is good to see this racist brand name finally consigned to history. However, sadly, many Australians will continue to believe the advertising fiction of Dr E W Coon. Edward William Coon existed. But Dr E W Coon was an invention, designed to deflect well-founded accusations of racism.
During the last five years, brand owners quietly dropped many of the ‘facts’ of the COON Cheese history they previously promoted. Australians never noticed and continue to parrot the Gospel According to COON.
Cancelling the racist COON brand name
Changing names is not erasing history.
Changing names is history.
Australians deserve to know the real history of COON Cheese. Then, reasonable people can accept, and even welcome the change to CHEER Cheese.
We as Aussies can consign the brand name to history.
People who love the cheese will find CHEER Cheese just as tasty.
Families with the surname Coon will no longer worry about their kids being subjected to playground jibes.
And People of Colour will endure one less slur.
COON: more holes than swiss cheese: available at leading eBook retailers.