A New England ice cream producer has changed the name of one of its most popular flavors after some claimed that its name, “Just Jimmies,” has a racist origin, Fox Business reported on Wednesday.
The new name of the flavor is “Just Sprinkles.”
“Jimmies” is the name many New Englanders have been using for about a century in place of what most Americans call sprinkles.
Some claim that it is a derogatory term related to racist Jim Crow legislation, although the history of the term is not clear.
Lynne Bohan, a spokesperson for HP Hood, the parent company of Brigham's Ice Cream, explained the decision to the Lynnfield Patch, saying, “While the origins of the word ‘jimmies’ is unclear, Brigham’s made the decision to change the name to ensure the brand reflects our values and meets our consumers’ expectations,” adding that “‘Just Sprinkles’ remains the same flavor/recipe that Brigham’s fans know and love.”
Readers in the Patch article's comment section were mostly against the change, with one writing that “They can do whatever they want, but to me they'll always be ‘jimmies’ and I'll never stop calling them that. How in the world could that word have ANYTHING to do with a company's or a person's ‘values’ is beyond me.”
Although the change in the ice cream flavor’s name made news this week, it actually appeared to have taken place last summer, when larger brands, such as Uncle Ben's and Aunt Jemima, were also switching their names over accusations that they were based in racism.
Brigham's was founded in 1914 in Newton, Massachusetts. Hood, which is based in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, bought Brigham's in 2008 and continues to sell the brand's most popular flavors in the New England area, according to the Patch.
Snopes, the fact-checking website that attempts to determine if rumors are true, says "No valid reason exists to suppose that 'jimmies' carries a racist meaning or had a racially-charged origin. However, it's difficult to definitively disprove the claim because the term's entry into the English language is downright murky."
Newspaper advertisements show a Nashua, New Hampshire, company was selling jimmies as early as 1921 in the first known use of the word.
The change in the ice cream flavor's name garnered attention, coming a week after many were outraged when the company that oversees Dr. Seuss' estate announced that it would stop selling six of the revered children's author and illustrator's books for racist and offensive imagery, according to Insider.
"These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong," Dr. Seuss Enterprises said in a statement. "Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises's catalog represents and supports all communities and families."
The company said its mission encourages "all children and families with messages of hope, inspiration, inclusion, and friendship."
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