Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Trader Joe Ignores Cancel Mob, Suffers Zero Repercussions

 

I’ve always liked Trader Joe’s. Quality products, good value, great staff, and a pleasant shopping experience — at least on weekdays when my local store isn’t too packed. Recently, a white California high schooler decided to be offended on behalf of other races and save them from product line names like “Trader José” and “Trader Ming’s.” She generated an online petition and received a couple thousand signatures. An embarrassing excerpt from her statement:

We demand that Trader Joe’s remove racist branding and packaging from its stores. The grocery chain labels some of its ethnic foods with modifications of “Joe” that belies a narrative of exoticism that perpetuates harmful stereotypes. For example, “Trader Ming’s” is used to brand the chain’s Chinese food, “Arabian Joe” brands Middle Eastern foods, “Trader José” brands Mexican foods, “Trader Giotto’s” is for Italian food, and “Trader Joe San” brands their Japanese cuisine. Furthermore, the Trader Joe’s company takes pride in the fact that the founder, Joe Coulombe, took inspiration in building the Trader Joe’s brand from a racist book and a controversial theme park attraction, both of which have received criticism for romanticizing Western Imperialism and fetishizing non-Western peoples.

Ah, youth.

Several news outlets reported that TJ’s was knuckling under to the criticism and reconsidering the branding. You might want to sit down for this, but the media was wrong.

The company released a statement reassuring their loyal customers that no mass renaming will occur:

In light of recent feedback and attention we’ve received about our product naming, we have some things we’d like to say to clarify our approach.

A few weeks ago, an online petition was launched calling on us to “remove racist packaging from [our] products.” Following were inaccurate reports that the petition prompted us to take action. We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist. We do not make decisions based on petitions.

We make decisions based on what customers purchase, as well as the feedback we receive from our customers and Crew Members. If we feel there is need for change, we do not hesitate to take action.

Decades ago, our Buying Team started using product names, like Trader Giotto’s, Trader José’s, Trader Ming’s, etc. We thought then—and still do—that this naming of products could be fun and show appreciation for other cultures. For example, we named our Mexican beer “Trader José Premium” and a couple guacamole products are called “Avocado’s Number” in a kitschy reference to a mathematical theory. These products have been really popular with our customers, including some budding mathematicians.

We constantly reevaluate what we are doing to ensure it makes sense for our business and aligns with customers’ expectations. A couple years ago we asked our Buying Team to review all our products to see if we needed to update any older packages, and also see if the associated brands developed years ago needed to be refreshed. We found that some of the older names or products just weren’t connecting or selling very well; so, they were discontinued. It’s kind of what we do.

Recently we have heard from many customers reaffirming that these name variations are largely viewed in exactly the way they were intended­—as an attempt to have fun with our product marketing. We continue our ongoing evaluation, and those products that resonate with our customers and sell well will remain on our shelves.

Trader Joe’s has been a unique, fun and neighborly place to shop for over 50 years. We look forward to taking care of our wonderful customers for many future decades.

The cancel mob loses all its power when you simply refuse to be canceled.

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  1. Bullwinkle Member

    Just another reason to shop at Trader Joe’s.

    • #1
    • July 30, 2020, at 4:17 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  2. Weeping Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: The cancel mob loses all its power when you simply refuse to be canceled.

    If not all, at least a huge part of it. Good for Trader Joe’s for standing firm. May other companies start doing the same. I’ve never shopped at one of their stores, maybe it’s time I hunted one down and checked it out.

    • #2
    • July 30, 2020, at 4:19 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  3. Zed11 Lincoln

    Next up, Unsafeway!

    • #3
    • July 30, 2020, at 4:20 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  4. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Good for them

    • #4
    • July 30, 2020, at 4:31 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  5. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Trader Joe Ignores Cancel Mob, Suffers Zero Repercussions

    Ignores or disputes?

    • #5
    • July 30, 2020, at 4:37 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    When I was back at my home base, I went to the nearest one a lot. It was between Barnes & Noble and Binny’s Beverage Depot. I didn’t get much from them, but the stuff I did get I really liked.

    The pralines were pretty good too.

    • #6
    • July 30, 2020, at 4:54 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  7. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bravo!

    • #7
    • July 30, 2020, at 5:12 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Lefties are such humorless scolds. And that’s on a good day.

    Good on Trader Joe’s. I’ll be shopping there more often. 

    • #8
    • July 30, 2020, at 5:29 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  9. Richard Fulmer Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: The cancel mob loses all its power when you simply refuse to be canceled.

    Yes!

    • #9
    • July 30, 2020, at 5:44 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    Trader Ming is a good name because it makes me laugh

    I’m Korean and I’m not offended 

     

    • #10
    • July 30, 2020, at 6:03 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Trader Ming is a good name because it makes me laugh

    I’m Korean and I’m not offended

     

    I’m of German extraction, and I want to know why I can’t buy Trader Sepp’s Bratwurst.

    That’s racism, straight up.

    • #11
    • July 30, 2020, at 6:14 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  12. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    “Decades ago, our Buying Team started using product names, like Trader Giotto’s, Trader José’s, Trader Ming’s, etc. We thought then—and still do—that this naming of products could be fun and show appreciation for other cultures.”

     

    I think they are being sincere about showing appreciation for other cultures.

    What is American culture? It’s a hybrid of many different cultures which reflect the demographic changes since its founding, for better or worse

     

    • #12
    • July 30, 2020, at 6:15 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  13. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Trader Ming is a good name because it makes me laugh

    I’m Korean and I’m not offended

     

    I’m of German extraction, and I want to know why I can’t buy Trader Sepp’s Bratwurst.

    That’s racism, straight up.

    which part of Germany? Bavaria?

     

    • #13
    • July 30, 2020, at 6:19 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Trader Ming is a good name because it makes me laugh

    I’m Korean and I’m not offended

     

    I’m of German extraction, and I want to know why I can’t buy Trader Sepp’s Bratwurst.

    That’s racism, straight up.

    which part of Germany? Bavaria?

     

    Part from Bavaria. Part from what was still Prussia when they skedaddled.

    • #14
    • July 30, 2020, at 6:49 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  15. JosePluma Thatcher

    Bullwinkle (View Comment):

    Just another reason to shot at Trader Joe’s.

    They’ll deflect that one, too.

    • #15
    • July 30, 2020, at 7:07 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Bullwinkle Member

    JosePluma (View Comment):

    Bullwinkle (View Comment):

    Just another reason to shot at Trader Joe’s.

    They’ll deflect that one, too.

    Whoops! corrected

    • #16
    • July 30, 2020, at 7:17 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. BastiatJunior Member

    This is great news. I also bought the stories that they caved.

    • #17
    • July 30, 2020, at 11:08 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. Sisyphus Coolidge
    Sisyphus Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    BastiatJunior (View Comment):

    This is great news. I also bought the stories that they caved.

    Trader Joe’s released their response on the 24th. I’m sure the media will notice soon. And they are so good at correcting themselves. Like with the Russiagate hoax. Cuz they are newz organizations. Just ask them, they’ll tell you.

    • #18
    • July 30, 2020, at 11:16 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  19. Hartmann von Aue Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Trader Ming is a good name because it makes me laugh

    I’m Korean and I’m not offended

     

    I’m of German extraction, and I want to know why I can’t buy Trader Sepp’s Bratwurst.

    That’s racism, straight up.

    Und Händler Sepps Obazda nicht vergessen. 

    • #19
    • July 31, 2020, at 2:26 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. Hartmann von Aue Member

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    “Decades ago, our Buying Team started using product names, like Trader Giotto’s, Trader José’s, Trader Ming’s, etc. We thought then—and still do—that this naming of products could be fun and show appreciation for other cultures.”

     

    I think they are being sincere about showing appreciation for other cultures.

    What is American culture? It’s a hybrid of many different cultures which reflect the demographic changes since its founding, for better or worse

     

    Correct. 

    • #20
    • July 31, 2020, at 2:27 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. MarciN Member

    I am hoping that Trader Joe’s may have cracked the wall of the cancel culture. Sometimes all it takes is one refusal to go along with the crowd to start a countermovement. 

    • #21
    • July 31, 2020, at 12:48 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  22. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I am hoping that Trader Joe’s may have cracked the wall of the cancel culture. Sometimes all it takes is one refusal to go along with the crowd to start a countermovement.

    #MeToo!

    • #22
    • July 31, 2020, at 12:55 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  23. kedavis Member

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Trader Ming is a good name because it makes me laugh

    I’m Korean and I’m not offended

    Maybe Koreans don’t care. But what about all the people from planet Mongo?

    • #23
    • August 1, 2020, at 8:19 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  24. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    kedavis (View Comment):

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Trader Ming is a good name because it makes me laugh

    I’m Korean and I’m not offended

    Maybe Koreans don’t care. But what about all the people from planet Mongo?

    • #24
    • August 1, 2020, at 9:45 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  25. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Trader Ming is a good name because it makes me laugh

    I’m Korean and I’m not offended

     

    I’m of German extraction, and I want to know why I can’t buy Trader Sepp’s Bratwurst.

    That’s racism, straight up.

    which part of Germany? Bavaria?

     

    Part from Bavaria. Part from what was still Prussia when they skedaddled.

    Then there’s some Irish, and some Latvians (except they might have been Germans in Latvia — can’t track them back any further than 1598). Then it gets complicated. There are some Scots, some English, and one branch that was Scottish, English, both, or neither depending on the tactical situation.

    • #25
    • August 1, 2020, at 2:13 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  26. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Trader Ming is a good name because it makes me laugh

    I’m Korean and I’m not offended

    I’m of German extraction, and I want to know why I can’t buy Trader Sepp’s Bratwurst.

    That’s racism, straight up.

    which part of Germany? Bavaria?

    Part from Bavaria. Part from what was still Prussia when they skedaddled.

    Then there’s some Irish, and some Latvians (except they might have been Germans in Latvia — can’t track them back any further than 1598). Then it gets complicated. There are some Scots, some English, and one branch that was Scottish, English, both, or neither depending on the tactical situation.

    Trader McMahon

    Trader MacLeod

    Trader Disraeli or Gladstone?

    Trader Floyd (Welsh)

    • #26
    • August 2, 2020, at 3:37 AM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  27. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    Thank you Trader Joe for finding your spine and holding the line.

    Going woke = growing broke, in more ways than one.

    citation: sky news australia

     

    • #27
    • August 2, 2020, at 3:38 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  28. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I am hoping that Trader Joe’s may have cracked the wall of the cancel culture. Sometimes all it takes is one refusal to go along with the crowd to start a countermovement.

    Let’s not forget Goya

    I had never heard of Goya before the cancellation attempt.

    Thank you Alexandria Occasional Cortex (Andrew Klavan)!

     

    • #28
    • August 2, 2020, at 3:40 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  29. Hartmann von Aue Member

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I am hoping that Trader Joe’s may have cracked the wall of the cancel culture. Sometimes all it takes is one refusal to go along with the crowd to start a countermovement.

    Let’s not forget Goya

    I had never heard of Goya before the cancellation attempt.

    Thank you Alexandria Occasional Cortex (Andrew Klavan)

     

    If anybody out there is interested in picking ups some Goya frijoles negros or refritos and mailing them to Bavaria, let me know… ;) 

    • #29
    • August 2, 2020, at 5:27 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  30. GFHandle Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    From the online petition: “Furthermore, the Trader Joe’s company takes pride in the fact that the founder, Joe Coulombe, took inspiration in building the Trader Joe’s brand from a racist book….”

    There’s the technique: casually claim something is “racist” as if the claim were true or universally acknowledged as true.

    The book is White Shadows in the South Seas (1919) by Frederick O’Brien. A glimpse at the Amazon reviews suggests that the poster of the petition lives in a world where any anti-racist and anti-colonialist of the past whose views are not an exact clone of hers must therefore be a racist. It also suggests she has not read the book. Instead of being racist and pro-colonialism, the book laments the effect of the whites on the cannibals its author admires.

     

     

    • #30
    • August 2, 2020, at 12:15 PM PDT
    • 1 like