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Coco Pops racism row: Former UK MP says breakfast cereal is racist

Coco Pops

Coco Pops has been accused as being racist by a former MP in Britain who has questioned why the chocolate-flavoured breakfast cereal is promoted with a monkey while its white-coloured stablemate Rice Krispies has three fair-skinned characters splashed on its box.

Onasanya asked why Coco Pops was represented by a monkey and Rice Krispies by "three white boys". Photo / Supplied
Onasanya asked why Coco Pops was represented by a monkey and Rice Krispies by “three white boys”. Photo / Supplied

Former Labour politician Fiona Onasanya, who was jailed last year after she lied to police about a speeding ticket, wrote to Kellogg’s demanding answers and shared her claims on social media.

She says there is no difference between the two cereal products other than flavour and colour.

“As you are yet to reply to my email,” the disgraced former MP wrote in a tweet directed at the breakfast giant.

“Coco Pops and Rice Krispies have the same composition (except for the fact CPs are brown and chocolate flavoured).

“So I was wondering why Rice Krispies have three white boys representing the brand and Coco Pops have a monkey?”

In response to the claims, Kellogg’s said it stands in support of the black community and conceded it was important discussions are raised to improve racial equality.

“The monkey mascot that appears on both white and milk chocolate Coco Pops, was created in the 1980s to highlight the playful personality of the brand,” the company said, according to the UK’s Daily Mail.

“As part of our ambition to bring fun to the breakfast table, we have a range of characters that we show on our cereal boxes, including tigers, giraffes, crocodiles, elves and a narwhal.

“We do not tolerate discrimination and believe that people of all races, genders, backgrounds, sexual orientation, religions, capabilities and beliefs should be treated with the utmost dignity and respect.”

A number of responses to the tweet addressed the accusation.

“The monkey is called Coco,” one said. “Remove the monkey and they are just called pops.”

And another: “The cacao tree from which cocoa beans and hence cocoa powder is derived is native to the Amazon Basin where there are monkeys.”

The claims come on the back of a global uprising which has reignited the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd, who was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis.

A number of products have been embroiled in similar claims this week, including Coon Cheese and Margaret River’s Colonial Brewing.

Coon Cheese is often criticised for racial insensitivity. Photo / News Corp

The Australian cheese brand was thrust into the spotlight after comedian Josh Thomas posted a picture of the label on Twitter accompanied with the caption: “Hey Australia — are we still chill with this?”

Saputo Dairy Australia, which owns the brand, did not respond to a request for comment.

However, on its website it provides “a brief history” of Coon Cheese in Australia, where it explains where the brand name came from.

And it’s that historical detail that could prove to be a stumbling block for those who want Coon renamed.

Saputo Dairy Australia says Coon was named in recognition of “the work of an American, Edward William Coon, who patented a unique ripening process that was used to manufacture the original Coon cheese”.

“The manufacturing of Coon Cheese in Australia commenced in November 1935 and continued through to December 1942, when production ceased because of the war,” it says.

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