NB Liquor pulls Old Sam rum off shelves as producer reviews logo

New Brunswick

NB Liquor pulls Old Sam rum off shelves as producer reviews stereotype concerns

NB Liquor has pulled a rum brand off the shelves after the producer said it's reviewing whether the label that appears to depict an elderly Black man is appropriate.

Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp. says it's reviewing logo depicting elderly Black man

Old Sam Rum is blended and bottled in St. John's by the NLC's spirits division. The Newfoundland and Labrador Crown corporation is reviewing the branding. (Lindsay Bird/CBC)

NB Liquor has pulled a rum brand off the shelves after the producer said it's reviewing whether the label that appears to depict an elderly Black man is appropriate.

It was decided to de-list Old Sam rum and remove it from store shelves while the producer, Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp., reviews its branding, said Sarah Bustard, a spokesperson for the New Brunswick Crown corporation, also known as Alcool NB Liquor.

“ANBL is currently completing a thorough review of all of the products listed,” she said in an emailed statement.

On June 19, CBC reported the Newfoundland and Labrador Crown corporation, which blends and bottles the rum from product shipped from Guyana, has put the branding under review.

The corporation said it saw “a potential issue” with the rum's branding in light of increased awareness and public debate related to diversity and inclusion. 

As of Monday, the rum can still be purchased on the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor website. It is not listed on the NB Liquor website.

The review comes as companies confront racial stereotypes in their branding because of anti-racism protests in the United States and Canada. PepsiCo is removing Aunt Jemima pancake mixes and syrup branding, and Mars Inc. is reviewing its Uncle Ben's rice brand.

NLC previously said it's “exploring the history” of Old Sam and “whether changes are needed.”

Addressing the impact on customers of pulling Old Sam rum off the shelves, Bustard said the company expects “many customers will shift to other brands within the category.”

With files from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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