Posted on April 27, 2009

Humble Eskimo Lolly Gives Tourist a Bad Taste

New Zealand Herald (Auckland), April 21, 2009

It’s as much a staple of New Zealand sweet confectionary as pineapple lumps and spearmint leaves, but the marshmallow Eskimo has been deemed offensive to native Canadians and may require a makeover.

Canadian tourist Seeka Lee Veevee Parsons, 21, an Inuit of the Nunavut Territory in Canada, was shocked when she found the lollies for sale last week, saying they are an insult to her people.

The word Eskimo was unacceptable in her country and carried with it negative racial connotations, she told the Taranaki Daily News.

The correct term was Inuit, Ms Parsons said.

“I was taken aback. When I was a little girl white kids in the community used to tease me about it in a bad way. It’s just not the correct term.”

She intends sending packets of the iconic confectionary to the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and her grandfather, a Inuit tribal elder in the Nunavut Territory.

Not only has the name of the lolly aroused painful memories, she believes the shape is an unfair stereotype of her people.

“We are much more of a people than that image. We have deep ties to the land and an ancient culture and I think we should be recognised as that and not just a marshmallow figure.”

A spokesman for Cadbury/Pascall, which makes the sweets, said the product had been in the market for many years and it was never their intention to offend anyone.

He was unable to say whether the lolly shape and name would be changed now they had been made aware it had caused offence.