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12 Jun, 2020 11:48

Swiss retail giant pulls ‘Moor head’ chocolates from shelves after racism controversy reignites online

Swiss retail giant pulls ‘Moor head’ chocolates from shelves after racism controversy reignites online

Migros, Switzerland's largest supermarket chain and employer, has become embroiled in an online racism debate after removing the beloved, if controversial, ‘Mohrenkopf’ (Moor's Head) candies from its stores.

There were queues around the corner at many Migros outlets on Thursday following the announcement that it would no longer stock the popular confectionary, produced by Swiss firm Dubler.

Online debate has raged about the chocolate treats for many years, but came to a head recently amid the current worldwide wave of anti-racism in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. The controversy was apparently rekindled online by an anonymous Twitter account which spurred multiple discussions on the origins of the sweet's name, the company's corporate responsibility to not offend its customers and whether the whole issue was merely political correctness gone mad.

“Dear Migros, I ask you to remove this product from your range immediately!? This expression is extremely racist and does not correspond to political correctness,” the anonymous account @MereSirrTeh wrote to the company this week in a now-deleted tweet

Following major online backlash, the account behind the tweet has also been deleted. 

Journalist Christian Beck countered by saying that he never thought of a man with dark skin as a ‘Mohrenkopf’ and recommended that the best form of protest would be not buying the sweet treats. 

Others asked if everything was now racist, decrying the whole episode as absolute nonsense.” Some even pointed out that, regardless of the moral implications of naming a sweet after a long-outdated racial slur, the whole tweetstorm was free advertising for the confectioner Dubler.

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The company itself suggested that the decision was spurred by lengthy discussion, and not the singular tweet. “The discussion of the past few days has shown that our customers have increasingly found the product name to be provocative,” said Gabriela Ursprung, Head of Corporate Communications and Culture Percentage at Migros.

“Against this background, the situation was reassessed and it was decided not to offer the candy anymore, even if the article had a large fan base.”

Meanwhile, retailers Spar and Volg are considering withdrawing the product and Manor has already pulled it from their shelves. The remaining Migros stock will be given to employees free of charge. 

There have been repeated demands that the managing director of Dubler, Robert Dubler, rename the product to the less racially inflammatory ‘Schokokopf’ (Chocolate Head), but he responded by saying that “chocolate products are not racist, people are.”

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