The makers of Coon cheese have announced that Cheer will be the rebranded name for its famous Australian product following pressure from an Aboriginal activist who said the original name was racist.
Saputo Dairy Australia on Jan. 13 said the name change to Cheer was to honour its consumers by aligning with “current attitudes and perspectives.”
The move comes after Aboriginal activist Stephen Hagan reignited his campaign—first attempted in 1999—after seeing Nestle rebrand Allen’s Red Skins and Chicos lollies to Red Rippers and Cheekies in 2020.
Amid the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement’s resurgence—which was founded by Marxist organisers—in July 2020 Hagan was successful in convincing Saputo to change the name.
The cheese-making company made no mention in its media release that the Coon name came from founder Edward William Coon, who patented its unique cheese process in the 1920s.
“Treating people with respect and without discrimination is one of our basic principles, and it is imperative that we continue to uphold this in everything we do,” Lino A. Saputo, chair and CEO of Saputo Inc. said.
“Our decision to change the name of Australia’s much-loved cheese reinforces this commitment to build a culture of acceptance, inclusion and respect where everyone feels a sense of belonging,” he said.
Cam Bruce, commercial director of Saputo Dairy Australia, said “CHEER Cheese is a cheese for everyone, and we trust our valued consumers and those who are new to our products will embrace this new name.”
“CHEER Cheese is the same recipe that millions have come to love, and will continue to grow up with, for generations to come. We remain committed to our Australian farmers who continue to produce the high-quality milk that goes into all of our products, including CHEER Cheese,” he said.
National Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese told 2GB Radio that while he doesn’t agree with “re-writing history”—referring to attacks on statues of historical figures by radical left activists—he thinks Saputo made a commercial decision.
“In this case, frankly I think it is a commercial decision by the company and fair enough,” Albanese said.
“Certainly, they were named after apparently some American cheesemaker,” he said noting that the cheese was not intended to eulogise a racist term.
“But the good news is the cheese will be the same, it’ll taste the same, and I think everyone will know it’s the same product. So I think it’s probably a commercial decision whereby the company has decided that it’s in their interest, they’ll sell more cheese and good luck to them,” he said.
The cheese will be sold under the new name from July.