Tags: watermelon | toothpaste | real | obama | cartoon

Watermelon Toothpaste's Real, and So's Obama Cartoon Flap

By    |   Thursday, 02 Oct 2014 08:00 AM

Watermelon toothpaste has gotten a political cartoonist at the Boston Herald in hot water after he included it in one of his satirical gags about the recent failings of the Secret Service.

According to Boston Magazine, Jerry Holbert, who has been drawing political cartoons for the Herald since 1986, submitted a cartoon featuring President Obama being startled by a White House intruder. The intruder is seen popping out of the president's bathtub, asking him, "Have you tried the new watermelon flavored toothpaste?" The caption reads, "White House Invader Got Farther Than Originally Thought."


The cartoon ran on the Boston Herald editorial page earlier this week, but an editor at Universal Uclick, which syndicates the cartoon to other publications, changed "watermelon" to "raspberry" for fear that the long-running black stereotype might be interpreted as racist.

"When I saw the cartoon, the 'watermelon' flavor immediately stood out to me, for two reasons: First, the racial subtext that the line unintentionally distracted from the cartoon’s point; and second, watermelon flavoring is only available in children’s toothpaste, so it would be a weird thing for adults to brush their teeth with," Reed Hastings, the syndicate's editor, told The Washington Post.


Hastings said he emailed Holbert to explain the edit.

"He made it very clear via [email] that the racial element hadn’t occurred to him," said Hastings.

"So I suggested to Jerry that he replace watermelon with a different flavor, and he agreed," Jackson continued. "He’d recently seen a tube of watermelon toothpaste and thought it was an odd flavor, and it stuck with him, so he included it in the cartoon. He was happy to change it."

Hours after the original Boston Herald version of the cartoon caught the public's attention and an outcry ensued, Holbert took to the airwaves to apologize and explain.

"I want to apologize to anyone I offended who was hurt by the cartoon," Holbert said Wednesday on Boston Herald Radio. "It was certainly, absolutely, not my intention."

Asked by the radio host if he thought he should have notified the Boston Herald after the syndicate editor notified him, he admitted, "That was where I would say I wish I had done that."

In the end, the Herald stood by their cartoonist, issuing an apology on his behalf.

"As Jerry Holbert discussed on Boston Herald Radio this morning, his cartoon satirizing the U.S. Secret Service breach at the White House has offended some people and to them we apologize. His choice of imagery was absolutely not meant to be hurtful. We stand by Jerry, who is a veteran cartoonist with the utmost integrity," the publication stated.

As for the existence of watermelon toothpaste itself, it appears a Colgate kids watermelon-flavored toothpaste has been on the market for at least a year.


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Watermelon toothpaste has gotten a political cartoonist at the Boston Herald in hot water after he included it in one of his satirical gags about the recent failings of the Secret Service.
watermelon, toothpaste, real, obama, cartoon
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2014-00-02
Thursday, 02 Oct 2014 08:00 AM
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