N.L. liquor corp. to change ‘Old Sam’ logo over concerns about racist branding

N.L. liquor corp. to change ‘Old Sam’ logo over concerns about racist branding

N.L. liquor corp. to change ‘Old Sam’ logo over concerns about racist branding

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp. says it will change the logo — but keep the name — of a locally bottled rum brand that appears to depict a laughing Black man.

The Crown corporation said Monday its research into the 200-year history of Old Sam Rum did not unearth any direct evidence that the image on its labels was rooted in racist stereotypes.

But in a statement announcing the character’s removal, the agency reported it is impossible to reach a definitive conclusion about the logo’s origins.

“Although we may believe the imagery is not related to negative racial stereotypes, we cannot conclusively state that those linkages may not exist or be perceived in that light,” the statement read.

“Given NLC’s values and our commitment to diversity, inclusion and acceptance, therefore, we believe that the time is right to evolve the Old Sam brand and adjust the visual identity of the product accordingly.”

The corporation announced a review of the product this month after a staff member raised concerns.

The move followed several other companies making changes to their labels — including PepsiCo’s Aunt Jemima pancake products and Mars Inc.’s Uncle Ben’s rice — as global Black Lives Matter protests have prompted fresh scrutiny of racism in product branding.

While the NLC’s review of Old Sam got underway, the New Brunswick Liquor Corp. stated that as of June 19, it would pull the brand’s products from its shelves and conduct a full review of its own catalogue.

The NLC reported Monday that its “extensive research” suggested the person illustrated in black-and-white on Old Sam labels may be the founder of Edward Young & Co. Ltd, the company that originally owned the product.

The corporation said its research, which has not been made public, included looking at trademark and other filings, historical labels and the history of the rum industry in Guyana — areas the NLC said “yielded limited additional information.”

Text that was removed from the product website shortly after the NLC’s statement on Monday vaguely described “Old Sam” as a man who sold rum products in Guyana in the 1700s. It said the rum “has a personality as unique as its namesake.”

“Sam was a man who demanded much of himself, his workers and his rums, but brimmed with generosity for guests and friends,” the text read.

“Merchants, naval officers and New World adventurers alike found their way to his post on the Demerara River to share a story, a laugh and a taste of the latest blend.”

The NLC told The Canadian Press in an email that research suggested the person on the label “is likely” Edward Young of Edward Young & Co. Ltd., because he had used his image on other products in the past.

The corporation said it removed the description of Old Sam from the product website in light of this discovery.

“It is possible that regardless of the founder’s name, over subsequent decades, the person on the bottle became identified with the name Sam, which is what the story on the website depicts,” the statement read.

There are two Old Sam Rum products in the collection of spirits produced by the NLC’s manufacturing division.

According to the company’s website, the rum is imported from Guyana and blended and bottled in St. John’s. The rums have been sold in other Canadian provinces including Alberta, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

The NLC says the rebranding will happen “in the coming months” but the “historic and beloved ‘Old Sam’ name” and recipe will both remain.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2020.

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

Newfoundland

Just Posted

Photo Courtesy: Echo Lacombe Association logo.
Lacombe City Council supports Echo Lacombe with location for pilot program

Echo Lacombe Association will run a pilot propgram on food rescue until November, 1, 2021

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer COVID cases continue to fall

114 cases in Red Deer, down one from Saturday

File Photo
Blackfalds RCMP seeking suspects in traffic collision

RCMP are asking the public for help identifing two suspects wanted for multiple offences

Maskwacis Pride crosswalk (Left to right): Montana First Nation Councillor Reggie Rabbit, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Louise Omeasoo, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Katherine Swampy, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Shannon Buffalo, Samson Cree Nation Chief Vern Saddleback.
Pride in Maskwacis

The 4th inaugural Maskwacis Pride crosswalk painting took place on Saturday June 12th, 2021

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Tulips bloom in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Day two of a full week of scheduled hearings will be heard in Federal Court today on a case involving Indigenous children unnecessarily taken into foster care by what all parties call Canada’s “broken child welfare system.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AFN slams Ottawa for ‘heartless’ legal challenge of First Nations child compensation

2019 decision awarded $40,000 to each Indigenous child removed before 2006

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

Most Read