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Yeah, I said it – these things are RACIST!!!!
I did a little research on some of my favorite sweet treats, and whoa, did I find some interesting factoids – it’s the dark side, literally, of some of the world’s most beloved candy. How can such sweet be coupled with such bitter?
Backstory: some of the delicious chocolate-covered marshmallow treats you grew up eating have terribly racist names in some parts of the world. The food isn’t racist, of course, but their original names have caused controversy for as long as they’ve been around. WHAT’S THE DEAL?!
A great place to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocolate-coated_marshmallow_treats. While I try to never quote Wikipedia, I think it’s a good start.
“Chocolate-coated marshmallow treats are produced in different variations around the world, with several countries claiming to have invented it or hailing it as their “national confection”. The first chocolate-coated marshmallow treat was created in the early 1800s in Denmark.” 
OK, Denmark, let’s start with you. Let’s see how you depict your “original creation” of a negerkys (Negro kiss):
Thanks for the marketing photo, internet person – glad someone is keeping up with this kind of thing. It’s noted that the Elviraminde company no longer uses the name “Negro kisses” to market them, but they did until the early 2000s.
Anyhoo, other countries gave their chocolate-covered marshmallow confections names that referred to Africans:
- Southern Germany + German speaking Switzerland = Mohrenköpfe (Moor’s heads)
- Finland = Neekerinsuukot (Negerkyss), derived from German. Discontinued use in 2001.
- The Netherlands = Negerzoenen (“Negro kisses”)
- Germany = Negerkuss
- Flanders = “Niggerinnetetten” (“Female Negro’s Tits”)
- Colombia = Beso De Negra (Black Woman’s Kiss)
- Palestine = “Cushi” כושי, “negro”, but not used in decades
It’s not that referring to anyone of African origins is racist – it’s HOW the reference is used. Yikes on some of the advertising – truly degrading and insensitive. However, the term “negro” is, in several languages, the word “black”, which refers to the color, not anything racial. In America, it’s pejoratively used as a racial slur these days, so most Americans now try to avoid it. Historically, it’s been used positively and negatively, so it depends on the context entirely…but lately, it’s not been favorable to use. So, let’s not. In other parts of the world, though, the connotation isn’t necessarily racist, nor meant to be condescending in any way – and yet, some of the marketing appears racially insensitive, so much so that most of it is no longer used today. So, does that mean other countries were wrong to use those ads to begin with, or is it that we NOW see them as racist, over time? Good question.
Side note: America has “Moon Pies” and Mallomars – not entirely similar, but I’d venture a guess neither were associated with racism. I know – seems ironic, but there you are. And basically, Moon Pies are portably convenient s’mores. You’re welcome.
Here’s a video of Moon Pie manufacturing in Chattanooga, Tennessee:
I don’t see a WordPress shareable link, so I’ll post an excerpt from Colossal:
“…Printed in the late 16th century this small book from the National Library of Sweden is an example of sixfold dos-à-dos binding, where six books are conjoined into a single publication but can be read individually with the help of six perfectly placed clasps. This particular book was printed in Germany and like almost all books at the time is a religious devotional text.”
Special thanks to Erik Kwakkel for the original story.
Pic: Stockholm, Royal Library. See the full image gallery here.