Darlie toothpaste package over the years
|Product type||Oral hygiene|
|Owner||Hawley & Hazel|
|Country||Mainland China (1933–1949)|
Hong Kong (1973–)
|Introduced||December 7 1933|
Darlie (Chinese: 黑人; pinyin: hēirén; literally: 'black person'), formerly known as Darkie, is a toothpaste brand of Hawley & Hazel Chemical Company (Official Slogan: 'Powering Your Smile.'). Established in Shanghai in 1933 and later based in Hong Kong (1973) and Taiwan (1949), Hawley & Hazel was acquired in 1985 by the United States based Colgate-Palmolive, although the product is not marketed by Colgate-Palmolive.
Darky, or darkie, is a derogatory term used primarily in the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada, referring to black people. The packaging featured an image of a wide-eyed, smiling dark-skinned black male wearing a top hat, monocle and bow-tie, an image associated with minstrel shows.
Hawley and Hazel marketed Darkie as a parody of an American minstrel performer, Al Jolson, who became popular for his blackface performances. The whiteness of his teeth also inspired the marking and logo. In 1985 after Colgate-Palmolive acquired Hawley & Hazel, significant controversy erupted over the brand in the U.S., to which Colgate CEO Ruben Mark responded by issuing an apology, replacing the English name of the toothpaste to "Darlie" in 1989, and altering the image on the packaging to show a racially ambiguous face in a top hat to avoid racial misunderstanding. However, the Chinese name of the brand, "黑人牙膏" (in English, "Black Person Toothpaste"), remains the same, and a Chinese-language advertising campaign reassured customers that "Black Person Toothpaste is still Black Person Toothpaste".
After the Colgate acquisition, the toothpaste continued to be sold in some Asian countries, including Taiwan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand where its brand and logo are not considered offensive. Colgate announced the product would not be sold outside of Asia.
The brand experienced an increase of both popularity and notoriety in 2004, after the toothpaste, along with other allegedly racist brands, was featured in the mockumentary CSA: Confederate States of America. It was depicted as a fictional brand that is popular in the alternative history of the film; the final credits reveal that it, along with most of the other brands, is a genuine product.
The original flavor of Darlie was mint. Other flavors are available for children.
- Chocolate-coated marshmallow treats, which in many languages are named with words akin to "darky"
- Commercial products using the word "nigger"
- Stone Fish, Isaac (2010-11-30). "Back to the Days of Blackface". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 2010-12-02.
- "Darkie drops offensive name and logo". Straits Times. 1989-01-29. p. 6. Archived from the original (JPEG) on 2015-12-04.
- hkcfphobia (2007-08-01). "【HKTVC】Darlie 黑人牙膏 1990/20sec". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
- "'Darkie' toothpaste puts company in a squeeze". Baltimore Afro-American. 1986-03-01. Retrieved 2015-12-04 – via Google.
- McCarthy, Todd (2004-03-09). "Review: 'C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America'". Variety. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
- Whiting, Kenneth L. (1989-04-17). "Darkie Toothpaste Changes Name". Singapore. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2013-10-29.