Racist toothpaste?

posted on 2 Oct 2008 in Fun Products

Engrish.com Post from Sept. 2007

 You may remember the Engrish entry for “Whitemen” toothpaste – a Chinese toothpaste to help you emulate the nice white teeth of whitemen?

Over the years I have also received a few photos of what was once called “Darkie” toothpaste as well – which was sold all over Asia for a long period of time. As you can see below, Darkie has morphed over the years from “Darkie” to “Darlie”, and now they just call it “Black Man” in Chinese characters (same dude on the label though). 

It is believed that the name “Darkie” was changed ever since the original Taiwanese company was bought by Colgate Palmolive in 1985.  Maybe “Darlie” wasn’t black enough, hence the rename to “Black Man” in Chinese — according to the Wikipedia entry on the product, a Chinese-language advertising campaign reassured customers that “Black Man Toothpaste is still Black Man Toothpaste”.

  • coffeebot

    Darkie is now Darlie. So, what else have I missed?

  • Eric G

    Seriously, wow! There is nothing funny about that!

    Other than it’s The only toothpaste used by Ted Danson.

  • engrishwebmaster

    Yeah, some ‘Engrish’ (if this qualifies as Engrish) is not so funny. I created Racism Week at the site so that I could archive some of these examples – having a theme makes it easier to post these sorts of offensive things.

  • coffeebot

    Specially formulated to clean 40 oz. stains

  • http://www.xenobiologista.com/blog/ Xenobiologista

    I remember seeing the “Darkie is now Darlie” ads on TV in Malaysia when I was a little kid (80s). My parents had to explain it to me since at that time there weren’t many people of African descent in the country. I mean, if I’d seen a real black person I would have been as likely to associate them with the toothpaste as I would have to associate a real tiger with Tony the Tiger from Frosted Flakes.

  • http://www.xenobiologista.com/blog/ Xenobiologista

    Also, just wanted to point out that this brand of toothpaste was created by a WHITE people’s company (it says Hawley & Hazel on all the boxes). It just happened to be sold in Asia for much longer.

  • Allen

    It doesn’t really seem *that* racist, especially since it’s actually emphasizing a positive trait about Africans.. namely that they have very nice teeth. Now granted, it’s misleading to say you’re going to get nice teeth like that just by using some weird off label toothpaste, but it’s not exactly racist like the “no gaijin allowed” signs.

  • Photovoltage

    Ah I do remember Darkie becoming Darlie – 87/88 back in good ol’ Hong Kong. They had a TV advert for it where the K walked (or was carried) off and the L was put in it’s place. I really wish I’d stocked up on “Darkie” toothpaste now – probably worth a fortune, somewhere?

  • w00t0s

    What the hell~ it used to be Darkie before Darlie?!?????!?
    WHOAH :0

  • MarissaBee

    Wow! This reminds me of that part in Ghost World where Buscemi’s character talks about the restaurant changing its name..

  • Coffee_hanjan

    Wow, my Taiwanese roommate DEFINITELY has this toothpaste and I’ve been wondering why it says “black person” in Chinese for quite a while now…

  • Dot

    I ran across this blog post, and I wanted to let you know that this Darkie Toothpaste actually originated in the US. The black smiling guy is named Sambo and was a popular advertising and product packaging character from the Jim Crow era. I’ve seen a some old advertising signs and displays in antique shops here in the South, including a handheld cardboard fan with the Darkie Toothpaste logo–it’s so awful!

    So, it’s not just the Japanese being racist–it started in the US. Here’s some more information about Sambo, http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/coon/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_Little_Black_Sambo

    Great site–been a fan for a long, long time!

  • lola

    Where can i get some?
    I used this as a kid, and this is STILL my favorite toothpaste.
    it has a clean refreshing taste–not like the toothpaste nowadays that taste a weird fake sugary chemically taste.

Home | Brog | Store | Massage Board | Advertise | Contact Us | Disclaimer

© 1999 - 2009 Engrish.com. All rights reserved.