By CBSLA Staff

MARINA DEL REY (CBSLA) — Trader Joe’s says it is taking action after a petition called for it to change “racist” packaging.

According to the petition, which has been signed by more than 1,800 people at last check, “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,” the petition continues.

RELATED: Trader Joe’s Founder Joe Coulumbe Dead At 89

California high school senior Briones Bedell started the petition, also saying that “The Trader Joe’s branding is racist because it exoticizes other cultures – it presents ‘Joe’ as the default ‘normal’ and the other characters falling outside of it.”

A Trader Joe’s location in Marina del Rey has already appeared to phase out some of the branding the petition pointed to.

The grocery chain released a statement in response to the petition, saying it has been actively making changes.

“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,” company spokesperson Kenya Friend-Daniel said.

The grocery chain is one of several companies that have recently come under fire for branding that critics say promotes stereotyping.

Last month, Quaker Oaks said it would retire the Aunt Jemima name and character. The maker of Uncle Ben’s rice said it would update the brand’s character as well, and Eskimo Pie’s leadership team also agreed to change the name.

Trader Joe’s first opened in 1967 in Pasadena and now has more than 500 store locations across the country. The chain’s founder and namesake Joe Coulombe died in February at his Pasadena home.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (76)
  1. fmc says:

    Suppose I opened a store and called it White People Brand Market. It would carry stuff like White People Brand Pancake Mix, White People Brand Rice, White People Brand Ice Cream Sandwiches, etc.

    Y’know what would happen next? They’d say it was racist for only carrying White People Brand foods.

  2. T Strat says:

    Where the hell did all the adults go? Someone needs to just tell these “offended woke snowflakes” NO! They need to be told NO and to go sit the hell down.

  3. warsev says:

    Too bad Trader Joe’s felt they had to cave to this insanity. If I was the CEO my reply to critics would be “Lighten up and rediscover your senses of humor and playful imagination.”

  4. Robert Allen says:

    Trader Joe’s founder died today. Probably started spinning before he even got to his grave.

  5. Ron Wilson says:

    Hey Trader Joe’s; You are not woke, you are just plain stupid.
    Stand up for our country and NEVER kneel down for ANYBODY except GOD!!!

  6. Sherry says:

    Can TJ really be so stupid as to take this seriously? Please notice that (at this point) there is not one person that has responded positively to this article. Regarding other companies that are making changes: Do you know that “Uncle Ben” as portrayed on the package is a real person that was actively involved in creating the product? What is wrong with the black chef photo on Cream of Wheat? Should it be a white guy instead? People just love to be offended, don’t they? I guess it gives them a reason to be alive. Well, if that is the case, you know what I think they should do!

  7. mgb1943 says:

    it’s no such thing as “swiss Cheese” in Switzerland ( you know it if you have been to switzerland ).
    The country Switzerland produce 100 + of differenst cheeses which all have a specific name. And no one look or is call Swiss Cheese.
    Using the name Swiss Cheese is an infregment of the trade mark ” Swiss ”
    Since we need to control the use of every name, this one should be abolish.

  8. Doreen Vergara Testani says:

    People need to grow a pair!!

Leave a Reply