And so, we bid farewell to all the vanishing friendly faces that once smiled at us from jars, bottles and packages on products we loved but, TIME and TIDE wait for no one.
This is the time of year when a lot of people tend to have moments of melancholia as we reflect on friends and family who are no longer with us. I’m no different. Except that, for some reason, I started remembering all kinds of products and, in some cases, the people or faces behind them that are no longer with us.
I’m not going to list the names of all sports teams that changed their original names from what people finally found offensive to something more appropriate. The first two that come to mind are the Edmonton Eskimos to the Elks. Hard to believe Eskimos hung around as long as it did. And of course, the Washington Redskins are now the Commanders. The reason for the changes is obvious, they were considered offensive to indigenous peoples. I wonder why it took so long for the Department of Indian Affairs in Canada to change to Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs?
And then I thought about the names of things that are, or were, a lot closer to home. Case in point, Eskimo Pie, is now called Edy’s Pie as of 2021 as the former was believed to be derogatory toward the Inuit people.
There was a time when most every home had a box of Spic and Span under the kitchen sink. I remember coming home from school and knowing my mother had spent the day cleaning the house. It was not only spic and span, which literally means neat and tidy, the crystal-like cleaning compound also made the house smell wonderful. But some overzealous politically correct pundit raised a stink about it because the word spic is an ethnic slur used against Hispanic and Latino Americans. Guess what? Spic and Span is still around. The complaint was dropped after it was explained the words spic and span can be traced back hundreds of years with spic being totally unrelated to the modern-day epithet.
And lest we forget, Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben. I think it’s fair to say we all grew up seeing these happy, friendly faces in our kitchens. Aunt Jemima disappeared in 2020. Although there were a number of updated versions of that warm and friendly face, in the end, it was now considered inappropriate and a move toward being more inclusive was needed. It’s now called the Pearl Milling Company. I now make my own pancakes from scratch.
Uncle Ben is dead. Unlike Aunt Jemima who was created, Uncle Ben was Benjamin Franklin Randolph who was an African-American rice farmer and mentor to the two men who founded the company in 1943. In light of the Black Lives Matter movement and putting an end to racial bias the face of Uncle Ben is gone. I simply thought of “the face” as a nice-looking man who I identified with good tasting rice. I think I’ll leave Mrs. Butterworth (syrup) and the old face of Cream of Wheat alone for now.
And hey! How about Winnipeg’s Bill Konyk of Hunky Bill’s Perogie Makers? Bill was born in Point Douglas in 1931. He invented the perogy maker which comes in two sizes, big and little. It cuts, seals and forms perogies in one easy step. He received a formal complaint in 1980 from the Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Association. They said the word “hunky” was an ethnic slur. The complaint was dismissed by the Human Rights Branch. Thankfully, you can still find Hunky Bill’s Perogie Makers across Canada and in the U.S. Bill passed away in 2019, he was 88.
And so, we bid farewell to all the vanishing friendly faces that once smiled at us from jars, bottles and packages on products we loved but, TIME and TIDE wait for no one. In these interesting times we live in, business must move forward and … so do we.
Jim was a writer-broadcaster and producer on television and radio for 40 years.