Last week I told you about the Trader Joe’s grocery chain capitulating to an utterly insane petition started by a California high school student. It accused the store of racism for labeling its ethnic foods “Trader Jose’s” and “Trader Ming’s” and whatnot. From the ridiculous petition:
We demand that Trader Joe’s remove racist branding and packaging from its stores. The grocery chain labels some of its ethnic foods with modifications of “Joe” that belies a narrative of exoticism that perpetuates harmful stereotypes. For example, “Trader Ming’s” is used to brand the chain’s Chinese food, “Arabian Joe” brands Middle Eastern foods, “Trader José” brands Mexican foods, “Trader Giotto’s” is for Italian food, and “Trader Joe San” brands their Japanese cuisine. Furthermore, the Trader Joe’s company takes pride in the fact that the founder, Joe Coulombe, took inspiration in building the Trader Joe’s brand from a racist book and a controversial theme park attraction, both of which have received criticism for romanticizing Western Imperialism and fetishizing non-Western peoples…
TJ’s put out this statement in response to this idiocy:
While this approach to product naming may have been rooted in a lighthearted attempt at inclusiveness, we recognize that it may now have the opposite effect — one that is contrary to the welcoming, rewarding customer experience we strive to create every day.
Speaking as a loyal Trader Joe’s customer, I thought the company was wrong to cave to these stupid demands. Apparently a lot of their other customers agree with me, because now TJ’s is reversing course. From their site:
To Our Valued Customers:
In light of recent feedback and attention we’ve received about our product naming, we have some things we’d like to say to clarify our approach.
A few weeks ago, an online petition was launched calling on us to “remove racist packaging from [our] products.” Following were inaccurate reports that the petition prompted us to take action. We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist. We do not make decisions based on petitions…
Recently we have heard from many customers reaffirming that these name variations are largely viewed in exactly the way they were intended—as an attempt to have fun with our product marketing. We continue our ongoing evaluation, and those products that resonate with our customers and sell well will remain on our shelves.
I’m not sure I buy their denial that they bowed to the petition. It sure looked that way to me. But I’m glad they hit the brakes. They should be listening to their paying customers, not some busybody Greta Thunberg wannabe with nothing better to do.
Speaking of whom, you know what this means: another petition! Briones Bedell, the schoolchild who started this whole thing, isn’t happy about her wokeness being thwarted:
Hello everyone. Thank you for your continued support in asking Trader Joe’s to remove racist branding and packaging from their stores.
Trader Joe’s has issued a new statement as of July 24, 2020 that appears to be a reversal of a previous statement issued on July 17, 2020. The latest statement is a departure from the company’s commitment to removing products that they have recognized have not been inclusive or conducive to creating a welcoming, rewarding customer experience. Further, this recent statement adds confusion as to how – and whether – Trader Joe’s will proceed with the repackaging of their ethnic foods.
There’s no confusion at all, of course. Trader Joe’s panicked because somebody put up a silly petition calling them racists because they label their burritos “Trader Jose’s.” Actual Trader Joe’s customers, the people who keep the store in business, let them know how crazy it was to give in to such ludicrous demands. Now the company has decided to just keep doing what they’re doing. Good for them.
I’m with Stuart Varney on this one:
— Varney & Co. (@Varneyco) July 30, 2020
(Hat tip: Daniella Genovese at Fox Business)