A New England-based ice cream company changed the name of a historic brand without much fanfare over concerns that it could be targeted by so-called “cancel culture” advocates at some point in the future.
Formerly known as “Just Jimmies,” Brigham’s Ice Cream made the change to “Just Sprinkles” sometime last year, according to reports.
But the reasoning behind the name change has locals baffled — and angry.
New Englanders use the term “jimmies” instead of “sprinkles,” the latter of which is used by most Americans. And while the history of “jimmies” is uncertain — “several companies have claimed to have invented it and the topping,” Fox Business Network reports — some people say jimmies is derogatory because it is a reference to Jim Crow, a character used to represent segregation and discriminatory laws following the Civil War.
But there is little evidence to suggest jimmies is related to Jim Crow in any way, as even the Snopes website notes the claim is “unproven.”
In an interview with local media, Lynne Bohan, spokeswoman for HP Hood, Brigham’s parent company, said that the change was made preemptively to avoid being targeted by people who claimed to be offended.
brighams quietly changes its “just jimmies” ice cream flavor to “just sprinkles.” whether “jimmies” is a racist term has been debated for several decades; snopes says it isn’t able to prove or disprove, but perception is probably more important than history/original intent.🍦 pic.twitter.com/gq2IEqU8oC
— alexandra j. roberts (@lexlanham) September 6, 2020
“While the origins of the word ‘jimmies’ is unclear, Brigham’s made the decision to change the name to ensure the brand reflects our values and meets our consumers’ expectations,” she told the Lynnfield Patch.
“Just Sprinkles remains the same flavor/recipe that Brigham’s fans know and love,” Bohan added.
The Patch noted: “Just Born, which today makes Peeps and Mike & Ike candies, claims they invented the product and gave it the name jimmies in 1923. But newspaper advertisements show a Nashua, NH company was selling jimmies as early as 1921.”
Readers mostly responded negatively to the Patch’s story.
“Yikes. Stupid,” one person noted in the comments section. “Please stop the madness.”
“They can do whatever they want, but to me they’ll always be ‘jimmies’ and I’ll never stop calling them that,” another wrote. “How in the world could that word have ANYTHING to do with a company’s or a person’s ‘values’ is beyond me.”
“Another waste of time looking for imagined problems,” said another.
“Just when I thought nothing was unbelievable anymore, they come up with this nonsense! If people are sick of it, then we all need to boycott every single company, parent company, affiliate etc. I always write on their Twitter pages and Google Review pages and let them know they’ve lost my business. If everyone did that, and stuck with it, maybe things will change. However, I’m doubtful anything will change. #CancelCancelCulture,” another reader wrote.
“This is totally and completely insane. I am over 60 and the chocolate bits have always been called Jimmies. I have never heard that Jimmies were based on racism. If we all look hard enough we can find racism, sexism, etc in many products. Brighams ice cream is not that good anyway,” said another.
“Please stop this friggin’ INSANITY!!!! So my nephew’s name is Jimmy, should I call him sprinkles from now on?? STOP, THIS IS NOT RACIST! Get it together and stop!” another responded.
Fox Business Network added that a law professor who specializes in trademarks noticed the name change last fall.
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