German-based candy-maker Haribo announced that it would halt production on “Skipper Mix” liquorice sweets after Swedish customers complained of its racist contents.
According to the New Straits Times, customers in Sweden began complaining after Twitter users posted pictures of the Asian, Native American and African caricatures contained within the “Skipper Mix.” A description of its contents claims that it includes “many different delightful shapes [like] sea creatures, boats, little houses, bears and ridged cylinders.”
The head of Haribo Sweden, Ola Dagliden, told the AFP that the offending candies were meant to represent what “a sailor who travelled the world” in “days gone by” would have collected. That the “sailor” pictured on the packaging is an accordion-wielding white man contributed to Twitter complaints about the company’s racial insensitivity. According to Saam Kapadia, the white sailor with his “treasure” of racist caricature liquorice candies brought to mind the legacy of colonialism and the slave trade.
Dagliden disagreed, telling the AFP that “It wasn’t something we saw as having negative connotations.”
Still, “[w]e decided that we could keep the product while removing the parts that certain consumers found offensive.” Haribo will continue to sell its “Skipper Mix” without the offending candy.
Last week was not the best for Haribo, as a Buzzfeed post about Amazon reviews of its sugar-free Gummy Bears went viral. Its packaging notes that “[t]his product is a sugarless/sugarfree item with ingredients that can cause intestinal distress if eaten in excess,” but Amazon reviewers claimed this warning was a gross understatement. The sugar-free gummies allegedly produced “intestinal distress” that rivaled “trumpets calling the demons back to Hell.”