Eskimo lollies leave sour taste

A Canadian Inuit touring New Zealand has been offended by one of the staples of the Kiwi lolly mixture, the marshmellow Eskimos .

Seeka Lee Veevee Parsons, 21, an Inuit of the Nunavut Territory in Canada, says the Eskimo lolly, manufactured by Cadbury/Pascall, is an insult to her people.

The word Eskimo is unacceptable in her country and carries with it negative racial connotations, she said.

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.

A name change by the manufacturer will no doubt be called a PC over-reaction, but would we say that if we came across a marshmellow caricature called a Hori in another country?

Is this very different from the name change for the wee white sticks with the pink ends we called cigarettes when I was a child? They’re now known as space sticks because the attitude to smoking has changed and it’s, correctly, seen as silly to associate smoking with sweets.

Now that the insult has been pointed out, Cadbury/Pascal will have to have a rethink and when they act on that I’m sure we’ll find that marshmellow lollies by another name will taste as sweet.

UPDATE: Alf Grumble  has a different view.

UPADATE 2: Keeping Stock  is on Alf’s side.

15 Responses to Eskimo lollies leave sour taste

  1. Deborah says:

    I agree, Ele. And really, would it be all that difficult to change their shape slightly and call them penguins instead. Involves a change of hemispheres, of course, so if that’s a problem, try a different shape change, and call them polar bears instead.


  2. Quick! Hide the Eskimo Pies!In the Esky!


  3. Buggerlugs says:

    Or Pascall could just say get stuffed and start producing licorice golliwogs in a show of defiance.


  4. Colin Lucas says:

    Alf has it right as far as I am concerned. Much ado about nothing.


  5. Inventory2 says:

    I must disagree with you on this one Ele – Save the Eskimo is our new catchcry!!


  6. homepaddock says:

    I2 – you can save the sweets but change the name – I think we already have penguin shaped lollies down here which taste the same.


  7. pdm says:

    HP – we are moving away from political correctness. Leave them as Eskimos.

    With a bit of luck we will soon have golliwogs back on shop shelves.


  8. Bobby says:

    Maybe people made fun of her because her name was Seeka Lee Veevee Parsons. Nanook should spend more time worrying about living her life than some racist candy.

    Sorry being an Eskimo has negative implications in her country but I don’t think any other country looks down on them. She should be happy people from a country that has no Eskimos even know what an Eskimo is.


  9. Rangimarie says:

    For years I have allowed others around me to mis-pronounce my name all because ppl said it was too hard to pronounce. Culturally I was offended but this meant nothing to these non-maori that did this. My guess is that these same ppl trying to use slander and derogotory comments about Seeka are the same racist inconsiderate ppl that continually mispronounce maori words and names. Sadly, this just goes to show how racist and in considerate many people are in NZ. To those that can’t see how disrepectful the use of the Eskimo name is, I would like to know “What is your culture? and do you even have one of your own?” Perhaps you should spend more time finding your own culture than trying to disrepect others. I think Cadbury/Pascal should just alter the shape and name to something else.


  10. Ngati Girl says:

    so u think just because ppl cnt pronounce ur name Rangimarie thats culturally insensitive.? well thats a new one hello Maori names actually are relly hard to pronounce. this is cultural offense in itself saying that what all “non Maori” (as you put it) should learn to properly pronounce names to avoid offending ignorant ppl like urself. yeah right. for your information i am Maori and ppl have trouble saying my name thats because i know its hard to say so i jus let them try and say it, u should correct them if u dnt like it jeez.! since the makers of Eskimo lollies and Eskimo pies dont mean in it in a negative way i see no problems


  11. Rangimarie2 says:

    Cool, someone with the same name as me 🙂 Yes I had the same probs with mispronounciation of my name too. The most annoying part was when people that could pronounce my name just gave in to using shortened versions. That annoyed me.
    As for this topic, the Haka (ka mate) wasn’t used overseas to offend maori but it still did and they didn’t give a toss about it offending maori. I agree with some of the other postings – how hard would it be to find a new name & shape out of respect for the Inuit people?? I had completely forgotten these lollies existed prior to seeing this on the news. As for the Eskimo pies – never eaten them. I also don’t own an Esky & have always called it a Chilly bin. I say Good Luck to the girl bringing this to our attention. I won’t be purchasing any of these products for my kids or grandchildren 🙂


  12. Another Canadian says:

    Wow – what a hyper-nerve Ms. Parsons has hit!! I’m amazed at the insecure ranting of so many NZers, and I applaud Ms. Parsons for her courage in the face of this storm of insecurity.

    The real story I see here is the response by so many NZers – that they responded in such a manner around something which they see as a cultural icon, a simple piece of candy. We have seen it here in Canada as well, where the dominant cultural group gets extremely upset about the whole political correctness (PC) debate. What I see with that, is that the dominant group has lost many of the structural advantages they originally put into place (often by force) which allowed them to exert and maintain control and authority over indigenous peoples (and usually for the purposes of robbing them of their land). It is no longer acceptable to do this on the world stage.

    Instead, derogatory remarks and labels, together with often overt discrimination and racism, are the only tactics remaining for those insecure members of dominant groups who need to put down others to make themselves feel better. That is what I see people trying to maintain when they react as they have to this issue. The topic of being “politically correct” is hot-button for those folks, as their not-politically correct language and behaviour is all they have left to prop themselves up as somehow being better than everyone else – which they are not!

    I hope non-Maori NZers have some stronger cultural symbols to embrace than a marshmallow candy (yuk!) that perpetuates an incorrect stereotype of a people they know nothing about.


  13. Raymond says:

    I am an eskimo (Inuk) from Canada. I wish people like Seeka would leave their political views and comments behind in Canada while abroad, grow up Seeka, you are a guest in New Zealand, stop embarassing us!


  14. Dogsbody says:

    Now that the dust from the great racist lolly debacle has settled and cooler heads have prevailed, allow me to point the finger of blame for this whole scandalous tempest-in-a-igloo: the media.

    A comment by a misguided tourist to New Zealand was blown all out of proportion into an international circus because of the way it was played up by the media on what must have been a very slow news day.

    Yes, Kiwis are noted for their gut reaction to anything that smacks of political correctness being rammed down their throats. But cruel, racist and rude? As an expat Canadian living in New Zealand, that has not been my experience. In fact I’ve found Kiwis to be the most welcoming, kind people I have ever met. I would dare to venture that most Kiwis had no idea the term ‘Eskimo’ was derogatory. Hell, I was born in the same country as Seeka Veevee Parsons and I didn’t know it was an insult.

    ‘Eskimo’ has simply referred to people living in the northern regions of North America. That may very well be lack of knowledge on the general public’s behalf, but it was never meant as racism or cruelty or even a degrading slur.

    I apologise to Ms. Parsons for my initial reaction, which was: “Don’t come into this country and start telling its citizens what to think or do.” But that’s what I thought, plain and simple.

    I felt she was rude, ill-mannered and arrogant. I was also embarrassed by the audacity of her comments, by how she was concerned enough to bother the prime minister of Canada over a candy’s decades-old name when the man surely has bigger problems to worry about.

    As this debate has raged on with insults (and very colourful language) being hurled by both sides, I was intrigued enough to do a bit of digging. And I found that the young lady has a point. She simply stated a fact, that the term ‘Eskimo’ is considered demeaning to her people. Fact. Full stop. Regrettably she didn’t handle it tactfully. We got the impression she was calling us unfeeling racists – in our own backyard.

    Unfortunately, when her comments were picked up and broadcast around the country, they tended to carry a bit of a slant towards culture bashing. And the culture being bashed is the white culture. Caucasians – who happen to make up the majority of the New Zealand population – are once again bearing the brunt of someone’s whinging. But if we happen to mention we might finally be fed up with the nit-picking of every complaining minority, we are instantly tarred as racists.

    So Ms. Parsons set herself up as a target from the beginning. She’s a tourist, a foreigner, a guest who doesn’t understand the white majority is trying to hold on to some of its own culture with one hand – because it is constantly being threatened, eroded and undermined – while swatting away the race card with the other hand. Not fair is it?
    After reading just about everything I could get my hands on about Ms. Parsons’ discourse, I found that most of her own people who commented on this story don’t really mind being called Eskimos and felt the whole thing was ridiculous. It is, they said, just a candy.

    The ones actually making the biggest noise are, in fact, New Zealand’s indigenous people. Maoris are egging her on to be a spokesperson of sorts. It hardly seems fair that Ms. Parsons now bears the brunt of the abuse while others hide behind their laptops and smugly encourage her to take the bullet for them.

    Comments by New Zealand High Commissioner to Canada, Kate Lackey, about Talk Radio being “Rednecky” are absolutely correct. It seemed to me that, as more and more comments were made about Ms. Parsons’ initial remarks, the more her words were twisted and manipulated by the public’s own beliefs and perceptions until it was New Zealand’s very way of life that was suddenly under attack.

    Unfortunately, our good citizens have been fed a heap of codswallop disguised as news. We are all guilty of believing what we hear and see as being the absolute truth when, in fact, it has been filtered to fit broadcasting itineraries.

    Interestingly enough, the lollys or candies which caused the initial furor are not even that tasty – not the finest treat Pascall has ever produced. But talk about hard to find on dairy shelves! Pascall must be doing a brisk business with their Eskimos at the moment. Who would have guessed this brouhaha would be good for sales? Do I smell a conspiracy?

    If Ms. Parsons would have politely written to Pascall and explained her concerns, instead of making a public spectacle of herself, thus dragging Pascall (and the country as a whole) unwillingly into the limelight, the company might have quietly phased out the lolly or changed the name over time. Nobody sets out to intentionally offend a race of people, especially a company that values good public relations. Certainly nobody likes to be embarrassed in front of the world, do they?

    Another Canadian ( has inserted a blog everywhere this incident is mentioned on the net, in which he/she (hiding behind the computer) officiously states:

    “Instead, derogatory remarks and labels, together with often overt discrimination and racism, are the only tactics remaining for those insecure members of dominant groups who need to put down others to make themselves feel better. …That is what I see people trying to maintain when they react as they have to this issue. The topic of being “politically correct” is hot-button for those folks, as their not-politically correct language and behaviour is all they have left to prop themselves up as somehow being better than everyone else – which they are not!”

    I think this demonstrates this person’s complete ignorance of New Zealanders as a people, while attempting to fan the flames of racism based on one (exaggerated) spark of controversy. This, (to use his/her very own words) “perpetuates an incorrect stereotype of a people” you know nothing about. To which my response is: “Butt out and bugger off. Look after your own backyard before you start poking your nose in other people’s business.”

    I hope the backlash Ms. Parsons has stirred up will teach her to pick her battles and tread more carefully in the future when speaking out in another country. I also hope she, too, is embarrassed by her gaffe. But I applaud her for having the conviction and strength to point out a mistake. In terms of lessons learned, I also trust New Zealanders, myself included, now understand the correct term for Ms. Parsons and her people is Inuit.

    To the media who put Ms. Parsons in such a difficult and culturally sticky position I say, “Shame on you.” This young woman was just making an observation – not attacking our way of life, for crying out loud. Stop sensationalising everything.

    On a lighter note, I would suggest Pascall change the name of the cute little marshmallow people to Canuck Cuties or Hosers Eh!, and then reshape them to resemble adorable ice hockey players or dorky dudes with toques and mittens. We crazy Canadians would love it.


  15. Tony Steeves says:

    Perhaps she would prefer if they were called “Qablunait” the Inuit racist word for white man that they use DAILY. The Inuit pull the race card every chance they get. Perhaps if they got a job, got off welfare, stopped having children at age 14, they would have less time to spend on such foolish notions. I am Inuit, live in Rankin Inlet and am embarrassed because of this. The suicide rate in Nunavut is 48x higher than in the rest of Canada, schools are showing 30-40% attendance in most communities, people are living on welfare, fix those problems and leave NZ candy alone.


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