Friday, December 30, 2005

Smile! it's the end of 2005!!

Here's a fantastic photo that captures the spirit of my family:


But talking about smiles...

Ever heard of a brand of toothpaste called DARKIE?

It got changed to DARLIE in 1989 or so, and only then did I think about what an offensive brand it actually was!

Take a look:

For some reason I was thinking about it the other day, and did a bit of research about it... I had always thought this brand was one of the many products "inherited" form the British, but it turns out this was a local Asian brand originating from Hong Kong. Apparently its founder had come to the US in the 1920s and seen Al Jolson in his blackface show, and had been impressed with how white Jolson's teeth looked.

Then Colgate-Palmolive bought it over, but didn't change the name until P&G threw some bad publicity their way..

They finally changed it to a less offensive name, and made the man on the package "an abstraction of indeterminent race."

The amusing thing, though, is that it's only the English version of this product that got changed... the others had the image changed, but the translation "Black Man Toothpaste" still lives on...

Here are some reference articles on this topic:
1. Whole Pop Magazine Online
2. New Internationalist Issue 195, 1989

[update 20080801: new photo used, sourced from toothpasteworld via wiki]


  1. Hmm,my ex wife used to buy a lot of that brand of toothpaste whenever she goes shopping in HK.I never knew about the politically incorrect origin of that toothpaste though. LOL..Thanks for sharing it lynne. :D

  2. yvw, snglguy :-) I like to pass around info I find interesting / amusing / thought provoking / etc. glad you got something out of this article :-)


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