old sam rum

Logo for Canadian rum brand Old Sam under review amid concerns over racist packaging

The Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp. (NLC) will review its Old Sam Rum brand logo, following in the footsteps of American brands pledging to change racist packaging.

The Old Sam Rum logo features an illustration of what some perceive to be a laughing, elderly Black man. 

The Crown corporation told CBC that the concerns had been "identified proactively by staff" as part of their review processes.

The decision to review the logo was made "in the context of being an organization where diversity and inclusion are fostered and employees are valued, respected and safe."

The news comes just a few days after American brands Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben's and Cream of Wheat said that they would alter or review their packaging.

Old Sam Rum originates in Guyana, but the rum is blended and bottled in St. John's. The rum — described as a "deep, dark, rich rum with prominent notes of brown sugar, coffee, tobacco and oak" — dates back to 1797.

The news has been met with some surprise from Canadians, with a few people taking to social media to point out that the logo's race could be perceived as ambiguous.

"What makes anyone 'assume' this 'lack of any colour' picture is a Black man?" one person wrote. "To me it just looks like any generic 'old and happy' man....like my grandfather, and my heritage is a mixed one."

"I honestly didn't even notice a face at all on the label at all," another person added. "I guess I never really looked at the bottle before, just looked for the cursive script of Old Sam. They could have removed it altogether and I wouldn't have noticed."

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Old Sam Rum

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