Some brands are beginning to alter their names and logos as they face increasing pressure to diversify and combat racism.
Costco has reportedly removed Palmetto Cheese from store shelves after the owner of the pimento cheese brand called Black Lives Matter a “terror organization.”
Brian Henry, the founder of Palmetto Cheese and mayor of Pawleys Island, South Carolina, made a public Facebook post on Aug. 25 saying he was “sickened by the senseless killings in Georgetown.”
Screenshots of his now-deleted post circulated on social media and called on shoppers to #BoycottPalmetto.
“2 innocent people murdered. Not 2 thugs or people wanted on multiple warrants. 2 white people defenselessly gunned down by a black man,” Henry wrote. “So why do we stand by and allow BLM to lawlessly destroy great American cities and threaten their citizens on a daily basis … This BLM and Antifa movement must be treated like the terror organizations they are.”
A Costco representative said they had no comment at the time when USA TODAY reached out Tuesday. Henry didn’t immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment Tuesday.
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Henry told The Post and Courier, also known as the Georgetown News, that Costco rotates the product in an out during the course of the year.
“They will occasionally add and drop products as a matter of normal business,” Henry told the paper. “We remain optimistic that Palmetto Cheese will be back on the shelves in the not too distant future.”
According to The Sun News of Myrtle Beach, Henry apologized at a news conference and called his comments “hurtful and insensitive.” He also asked people calling for a boycott of Palmetto to reconsider.
“There is a concerted effort to boycott Palmetto cheese,” Henry said. “Please consider the hundreds of South Carolina jobs that depend on its success. We humbly ask for your support.”
The Palmetto Cheese website, www.pimentocheese.com, says it is the top-selling pimento cheese in the U.S. and sold at 9,100-plus stores in 44 states and Washington, D.C. The website also talks about how the company is “evolving and listening to its community.”
The brand has begun rebranding to remove the image of Vertrella Brown, a Black cook who popularized the product, from the packaging.
“We understand action is necessary to embrace change within our organization and we are committed to making an impact internally and within the community,” a statement on the website says.
Palmetto Cheese isn’t the first to begin a rebranding effort in recent months amid Black Lives Matter protests after the death of George Floyd. Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s, Cream of Wheat, Mrs. Butterworth’s and the makers of Eskimo Pie have announced plans to rebrand away from names that are rooted in a more racially divided era of America’s history.
Contributing: Dalvin Brown, USA TODAY
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko
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