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Product typeOral hygiene
OwnerHawley & Hazel
Produced byHawley & Hazel
CountryChina (1933–1949)
Taiwan (1949–)
Hong Kong (1973–)
IntroducedDecember 7 1933; 86 years ago (December 7 1933)
Websitewww.darlie.com Edit this at Wikidata

Darlie, originally known as Darkie, is a toothpaste brand of Hawley & Hazel Chemical Company (Official Slogan: 'Powering Your Smile.'). Hawley & Hazel was established in Shanghai in 1933 and later based in Taiwan (1949) and Hong Kong (1973). In 1985, Colgate-Palmolive acquired 50% of Hawley & Hazel.[1]


Hawley and Hazel marketed Darkie toothpaste as a parody of an American minstrel performer, Al Jolson, who became popular for his blackface performances. The whiteness of his teeth inspired the brand name and logo. Darky, or darkie, is a racist term used primarily in the Western World to refer to black people. The packaging featured an image of a wide-eyed, white man in blackface, wearing a top hat, monocle and bow-tie, an image associated with minstrel shows.

Al Jolson, the comedian who inspired the logo design

In 1985, after Colgate-Palmolive acquired 50% of Hawley & Hazel, great controversy erupted over the brand in the United States, to which Colgate-Palmolive CEO Ruben Mark responded by issuing an apology and 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.[2] 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".[3]

After the entry of Colgate-Palmolive, the brand continued to be sold in several Asian countries, including Taiwan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand where its brand and logo were not considered offensive. Colgate-Palmolive announced the brand would not be sold outside of Asia.[4]

Darkie toothpaste packaging from Thailand in 1988

The brand experienced an increase of both popularity and notoriety in 2004,[citation needed] after the toothpaste, along with other allegedly racist brands, was featured in the mockumentary C.S.A.: The 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.[5]

On June 19, 2020, Colgate-Palmolive announced it will work with Hawley & Hazel to "review and further evolve all aspects" of the Darlie brand, including the brand name.[6] At the time of the announcement, the Chinese name of Darlie still continues to be "黑人牙膏" (in English, "Black Person Toothpaste"). The announcement followed similar announcements made by PepsiCo/Quaker Oats (Aunt Jemima) and Mars, Incorporated (Uncle Ben's) for their respective brands. In November 2020, the blackface imagery of the brand remained unchanged.[7]

Product and market share[edit]

The original flavor of Darlie was mint. Other flavors are available for children.[8]

As of 1989, the toothpaste held a 75% market share in Taiwan, 50% in Singapore, 30% in Malaysia and Hong Kong and 20% in Thailand.[9]Nowadays it is one of the bestselling toothpaste brands in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, with between 10 to 30 percent market share.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stone Fish, Isaac (2010-11-30). "Back to the Days of Blackface". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 2010-12-02.
  2. ^ "Darkie drops offensive name and logo". Straits Times. 1989-01-29. p. 6. Archived from the original (JPEG) on 2015-12-04.
  3. ^ hkcfphobia (2007-08-01). "【HKTVC】Darlie 黑人牙膏 1990/20sec". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
  4. ^ "'Darkie' toothpaste puts company in a squeeze". Baltimore Afro-American. 1986-03-01. Retrieved 2015-12-04 – via Google.
  5. ^ McCarthy, Todd (2004-03-09). "Review: 'C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America'". Variety. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
  6. ^ Shakib, Delara (June 19, 2020). "Colgate-Palmolive to review product's name that translates to 'Black people toothpaste'". NBC News. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  7. ^ Grundy, Tom (November 27, 2020). "Darlie toothpaste remains on shelves five months after Colgate vowed to rethink 'racist' brand". Hong Kong Free Press. Retrieved November 27, 2020.
  8. ^ http🖉"Darlie Hong Kong | Toothpastes, Toothbrushes & Oral Care Tips". Darlie Hong Kong Official Page.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Christopher DeWolf (2018-12-10). "How Darkie, now Darlie, became East Asia's favourite toothpaste despite its blackface branding". South China Morning Post.

External links[edit]