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Trader Joe's sets the record straight after being accused of 'racist' branding


'Glad they won't be bending the knee to the mob over...guacamole.'

Noam Galai/Getty Images

Trader Joe's made headlines last week after The Washington Post, CNN, and others reported that the grocer would be pulling several in-house brand names from their shelves in reaction to an online petition accusing the chain of "racist packaging" for its marketing of certain products.

But Trader Joe's says the media got it wrong, and has issued a statement to clear up any misunderstanding.

What are the details?

In a post to their website, Trader Joe's wrote:

A few weeks ago, an online petition was launched calling on us to 'remove racist packaging from [our] products.' Following were inaccurate reports that the petition prompted us to take action. We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist. We do not make decisions based on petitions.

The retailer explained that the names targeted by the petition—"like Trader Giotto's, Trader José's, Trader Ming's, etc."—"have been really popular" with customers, and many will remain on their shelves for that reason.

Trader Joe's also argued that their "fun" product names were intended to "show appreciation for other cultures," and that they "have heard from many customers reaffirming that these name variations are largely viewed in exactly the way they were intended."

Conservative co-host of "The View," Meghan McCain, praised the grocer's announcement, tweeting, "Pitch perfect response from Trader Joes to one of the dumbest twitter mob non-controversies ever. Glad they won't be bending the knee to the mob over...gucamole (sic)."

What was the original statement?

After the online petition started by a high school senior garnered 2,800 signatures calling for Trader Joe's to rename their "offensive" brands, a company spokesperson issued a statement saying:

While this approach to product naming may have been rooted in a lighthearted attempt at inclusiveness, we recognize that it may now have the opposite effect—one that is contrary to the welcoming, rewarding customer experience that we strive to create every day.

The Post went on to report that "the grocer said that it already has changed the packaging on a number of products and that it expects to complete the process 'very soon.'"

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