UPDATED: Trader Joe’s Is Changing Their Racially Insensitive Packaging

UPDATE: Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that Trader Joe’s is still changing its insensitive packaging—yay! But the bad news is that Trader Joe’s isn’t actually admitting the packaging was racist, and are adamant their decision was not influenced by the recent petition.

Earlier this month, TJ’s director of public relations, Kenya Friend-Daniel, made a statement in response to the petition, in which she admitted that the company’s “lighthearted attempt at inclusiveness” may now have “the opposite effect.” Friend-Daniel indicated that the change in packaging had been in the works for “several years,” but her statement certainly seemed to acknowledge some of the petition’s concerns.

But in a new statement, Trader Joe’s is reversing course on taking accountability, saying, “We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist. We do not make decisions based on petitions… If we feel there is need for change, we do not hesitate to take action.” The statement continues: “Recently, we have heard from many customers reaffirming that these name variations are largely viewed in exactly the way they were intended—an attempt to have fun with our product marketing.”

Obviously, Trader Joe’s is a large company with millions of diverse customers, but this statement is deeply puzzling to me. While I’m sure “many customers” don’t have any issue with the packaging in question, it’s clear that many *other* customers do! One customer cared enough to create a petition, and thousands have cared enough to sign that petition. And regardless of the company’s intent, they were already doing the right thing, so why even expand upon their reasoning? There was no need for a second statement in the first place, and it definitely didn’t make them look any better.

For whatever reason it’s happening, it’s still a good thing that Trader Joe’s is phasing out their racially insensitive packaging. But it’s weird that the company seems so indignant at the idea that there was an issue in the first place.

Original Article: Over the years, Trader Joe’s has built a reputation as a millennial grocery hotspot for affordable basics, creative snacks and frozen treats, and foods from around the world. They’ve cultivated an accessible, laid-back brand identity, and their stores are constantly packed. Everyone has their favorite Trader Joe’s specialties, and for the most part, you can’t get their products anywhere else.

But while most of the products at Trader Joe’s are specific to the company, they don’t all have the same Trader Joe’s branding. For years, the company has applied different variations of the Trader Joe’s name to many of their ethnic foods. For example, many of their Mexican (or Mexican-inspired) products are labeled with “Trader José,” and Chinese food items are labeled with “Trader Ming’s.” But in the wake of other food brands such as Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s being forced to reexamine their racially insensitive branding and packaging, Trader Joe’s is the latest to feel the pressure, in the form of an online petition.

The petition, which was created by 17-year-old Briones Bedell, demands that Trader Joe’s “remove racist branding and packaging from its stores.” This includes the Trader José and Trader Ming’s labels, in addition to Trader Joe San (Japanese foods), Trader Giotto’s (Italian foods), and Arabian Joe (Middle Eastern foods). Bedell writes that the alternative branding “is racist because it exoticizes other cultures – it presents ‘Joe’ as the default ‘normal’ and the other characters falling outside of it.” These names aren’t a great look, and the fact that Trader Joe’s has a mostly white and male executive team certainly doesn’t help.

In a statement, Kenya Friend-Daniel, the national director of public relations for Trader Joe’s, said “While this approach to product naming may have been rooted in a lighthearted attempt at inclusiveness, we recognize that it may now have the opposite effect—one that is contrary to the welcoming, rewarding customer experience we strive to create every day.” According to the statement, the company decided to move away from the name variations “several years ago,” and while many products have received updated packaging, “there’s a small number of products in which the packaging is still going through the process.” It doesn’t seem like this is a process that should take “several years,” but hopefully this petition will inspire Trader Joe’s to pick up the pace and finally get this done. Friend-Daniel says the process of updating the packaging will be completed “very soon.”

But the problematic names are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to the names, the petition also points out their connections to the larger inspiration behind the Trader Joe’s brand identity. According to the Trader Joe’s website, the ideas for the store’s “nautical theme” and the idea of employees as “traders on the high seas” came to founder Joe Coulombe from Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise ride and the book White Shadows In The South Seas. Jungle Cruise, which has been a staple Disneyland attraction since the park opened in 1955, has repeatedly been criticized for its insensitive portrayals of audio-animatronic “natives.” In light of Disney’s recent announcement that it will redesign the racist Splash Mountain ride, many have pointed out that Jungle Cruise is also in desperate need of some updates.

Jungle Cruise is problematic, but Coulombe’s other inspiration, White Shadows in the South Seas, is even worse. It’s a travel book from 1919, in which Frederick O’Brien recounts his experiences traveling in the South Pacific. According to the Amazon description, upon returning from his travels, O’Brien had a “thirst for all things exotic, far-flung, and gloriously ‘uncivilized.'” The description also mentions “savages” multiple times, and if the description is that racist, I’d hate to know what’s in the actual book.

With these references in mind, the whole “Trader” concept seems questionable to begin with, and according to the petition, “Many of these regions are still at a disadvantage today because of how traders ravaged their peoples, their societies, and their natural resources.” Joe Coulombe opened his first store more than 50 years ago, and times have changed, but Trader Joe’s may want to look into the inspirational materials they proudly cite on their website. The Hawaiian shirts are one thing, but the backstory is seriously problematic.

Images: jejim / Shutterstock.com; karathebee / Twitter

The Best Bloody Mary Mixers For When You’re Too Broke To Get Brunch

Are you tired of detoxing after long celebrations which claim not only your sanity but your super flat belly and flawless skin? Do you want to continue the party and just barely ease out of your four day alcoholism? Time for a Bloody Mary.

Though fairly nuanced, a Bloody Mary is only as good as its mixer. It can be complex; it can be simple; but it needs to be a combination of fucking delicious ingredients to help wash down and dull the taste of alcohol until you’re ready to be friends with it again.

To help in your quest for a delicious breakfast drink, here are our top ten betch approved Bloody Mary mixers in no particular order

1. Trader Joe’s Bloody Mary Mixer with Clam Juice

If you’re looking for a solid base to doctor up yourself, grab this shit on your next trip to battle the soccer moms at Trader Joe’s. It isn’t spicy, so you can add all the Tabasco and Cholula your heart desires.

2. Zing Zang Blood Mary Mix

This is the easiest mix to probably find, provides an easy base, and is easy to be friends with. It has a lot of celery salt to balance the tomato, but, overall, isn’t crazy in any way. Add some lemon and Worcestershire plus plenty of vodka, though, and you’ll have a GREAT morning.

3. Tabasco Mildly Seasoned Bloody Mary Mix

Are you new to Bloody Marys and trying not to be a pussy? Here’s a bottle of mix for you. Tomatoes plus salt, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and spices equal a tame but yummy mix. Also, this shit isn’t vegetarian—so feel free to garnish with extra bacon.

4. Dave’s Gourmet Original Bloody Mary Mix

Do you crave heat and frequently order things Indian or Thai hot? Grab a bottle of this shit to blow your hangover out of your body. This mix combines a thick, sweet tomato base (think the pizza sauce from Papa John’s) with a kick of heat. You may need to doctor with more citrus, but, overall, it’s nommy.

5. McClure’s Pickles Bloody Mary Mix

Are you weirdly into pickles and all things that are pickled or could potentially be pickled? Grab this shit, weirdo. There’s a LOT of vinegar in here which tones down the tomato. So, if you’re into spice, salt, sour, and feeling oddly powerful after drinking a lot of apple cider vinegar, this is the mix for you.

6. Hoosier Momma Spicy Blood Mary Maker

There’s a mild version of this mix for pussies those who aren’t into spice, but trust us when we say this shit is a fav. Along with the nearly blinding heat, you’ll get a hint of sweetness in the thick mix. Make sure to add lots of ice and booze to thin it out. 

7. Employees Only Blood Mary Mix

Crave Worcestershire and pepper in your morning drank? Grab this shit. It has a great blend of spice, salt, horseradish, and vinegar to combat the sweetness from the tomato. This one will impress your friends and is good enough to convince them you made it yourself. 

8. Master of Mixes 5 Pepper Bloody Mary Mix

Like peppers and veggies more than tomatoes? Cool, grab this. You’ll get lots of bell and chipotle peppers up front which combat the whole tomato thing. It’s got some lingering heat, though, so beware of that shit.

9. Dr. Swami & Bone Daddy’s Spicy Cajun Bloody Mary Mix

Ignore the really stupid bottle and just buy this on impulse. You’ll get a great blend of a more savory mix with plenty of hot sauce and umami flavor. Oh, and don’t serve this shit to your vegan friends—it has beef broth in it.

10. Ripe Pure Squeezed San Marzano Bloody Mary Mix

If you’re a Whole Foods jungle freak frequenter, this is the Bloody Mary mix for you. It combines the usual suspects like tomatoes and celery with salt and spice for a crowd-pleasing mix.