Pie-eyed on CSR

Peter Kurti

16 October 2020 | ideas@theCentre

Put down that chocolate-coated ice cream treat! Sugar is not the only threat: racism is apparently blended into the dairy delight, too.

Venerable Aussie ice cream maker Peters has been forced to dump its allegedly racist ‘Eskimo Pie’ brand – a favourite of generations– and rename it ‘Polar Pie’.

The ice cream treat is the latest in a long line of familiar consumer products to fall victim to a wave of Corporate Social Responsibility intending to eradicate ‘oppressive’ or ‘derogatory’ packaging.

Eskimo Pies have been with us since 1923 – long before the days of the domestic freezer – bringing chilled refreshment during the long afternoons of our sweltering summers.

‘Eskimo’ is used in Alaska to refer to indigenous Inuit and Yupik people. But the enforcers of political correctness insist it smacks of racism, colonialism, and non-native oppression.

That’s why we have seen the owners of dairy products, lollies, sports teams, household detergents, and lunch foods drop to their knees to repent of their cultural sins.

At one level, it is easy to dismiss activist campaigns aimed at forcing out hidden racism from the aisles of our grocery stores as the comical antics of a few joyless anthropologists.

But as part of the ‘cancel culture’ phenomenon sweeping the English-speaking world, these campaigns must be taken seriously.

Of course, any manufacturer is entitled to rebrand their products and update advertising images that have fallen out of fashion. It is equally important to fight racism and violence.

But cancel culture forces change upon businesses, threatening them with costly campaigns that can drive away customers and destroy profits — and jobs — if they fail to bow down.

Fear of being denounced, trolled on social media, and even forced to close down altogether, compels business owners to cave in to pressure from anti-racism activists.

Faced with such a campaign, it’s no wonder the resolve of ice cream producer, Peters, has melted just as fast as an ice cream treat on a hot Aussie summer’s day.

We can smile about food packaging, and even enjoy tucking in to a Polar Pie. But cancel culture threatens jobs, livelihoods, and reputations. We ignore those dangers at our peril.

This is an edited extract of an opinion piece published on Spectator’s Flat White as Bye-bye, oh sweet Eskimo Pie
Print Friendly, PDF & Email