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Controversial toothpaste is renamed

Published Oct. 16, 2005

In an attempt to end charges of racism, the makers of Darkie toothpaste have agreed to change its name. Bowing to international criticism, manufacturer Hawley and Hazel Chemical said Monday it would rename its product Darlie. It represents 30 percent of the toothpaste sold in Hong Kong.

"We want the name of our toothpaste to be internationally acceptable. However, some people consider the word "Darkie' racially offensive, particularly in America," said Alvin Au, regional commercial director for the firm.

Founded more than 60 years ago in Shanghai before moving to Hong Kong, Hawley and Hazel ran into controversy in 1985 when Colgate-Palmolive of the United States bought a 50 percent interest in the manufacturer, whose sole product is Darkie toothpaste.

U.S.-based church groups objected to both the name and its logo featuring a black-faced minstrel with a gleaming white toothy grin, describing them as offensive to blacks.