Trader Joe’s Won’t Actually Change Its ‘Racist’ Product Names

Trader José is one of several product lines that have been called out as racist. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Trader Joe’s is backtracking. The grocery chain now says it won’t change the names of product lines like Trader Ming’s about two weeks after releasing a statement saying it was in the process of updating those names. That first statement, attributed to spokesperson Kenya Friend-Daniel, was in response to a petition started by San Francisco high-school student Briones Bedell. In it, she writes, “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.”

In a new statement reported on by the AP, Trader Joe’s says, “We disagree that any of these labels are racist” and that “we thought then — and still do — that this naming of products could be fun and show appreciation for other cultures.” Speaking to the AP, Bedell says the response is a “complete reversal of their previous commitment to removing names.” Friend-Daniel tells the AP that the company has dropped names and may drop more in the future, but will only do so based on feedback from customers and employees — not an online petition. It’s a confusing reversal, given that Trader Joe’s could’ve just … said this in the first place. Was the company barraged by indignant responses from customers furious over cancel culture coming for Trader José’s?

Trader Joe’s Won’t Change Its ‘Racist’ Product Names