The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

I was wondering why my recent "Dairy Queen's 'Mixed' Drink" post, about the unfortunately-named MooLatte, was getting so much traffic of late. Then I found out about Timothy Noah's recent piece in Slate, which mirrors my thinking almost exactly on the "Tragic MooLatte":
But it is one thing to keep using a word that in theory, but only in theory, causes racial offense, and quite another to create a word that resurrects, by association, a bygone racial stereotype...

Moreover, the name of a commercial product should never spotlight, even unintentionally, the physical similarity between that product's appearance (in this case, hue) and that of any class of human beings. Being of Jewish ancestry, Chatterbox would certainly object loudly if Dairy Queen started selling coffee-flavored Italian ice cream with a big-nosed logo on the cup and called it the JooLato.

Doesn't Dairy Queen have any black employees? Or at least somebody who's seen Show Boat? Why didn't anyone point out the MooLatte-mulatto problem? It seems inconceivable that the resemblance would be deliberate, given corporate skittishness about generating controversy in the marketplace.
I suspected some marketing schlub dropped the ball when vetting out approval for this name. As it is, I have a feeling the MooLatte will join the ranks of famous business brand mistranslations; only this will have an element of truth to it, unlike the false Chevy-Nova-in-Spanish myth.

If you're so put off by the ineptness of the name that you can't see your way to buying a MooLatte, you do have another option: Baskin-Robbins' Blast. Let me know how it is; I hate coffee, so I'm not touching either of them.