Robertsons Axes 91-Year Old ‘Racist’ Golly

24 August 2001

Golly, the colourful jam [jelly] and marmalade brand character beloved by generations of children across the globe, is about to be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness – although this motive is denied by manufacturer James Robertson & Sons.

Golly not only adorns the labels of Robertsons’ best-selling brands but also fronts one of the UK's longest running consumer loyalty programmes. His execution date has been fixed for September 1 when the character will be phased-out from product labels on the grounds that research shows children are no longer familiar with it.

Instead, he will be replaced with drawings of characters from Roald Dahl stories, among them Willy Wonka (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and James and the Giant Peach.

Born in 1910, Gollywog, as he was then known, was a stranger to controversy until the 1980s when the fuzzy-haired, black-faced, technicolor-attired doll was condemned as a racist symbol. Shedding the last syllable of his name as a concession to PC, he survived the slur partly due to its intrinsic risibility but mainly thanks to the affection of millions of kids worldwide.

Robertsons’ brand director Ginny Knox was at pains to refute that Golly was an offensive image: “We sell 45 million jars of jam and marmalade each year and they have pretty much all got Golly on them. We also sell 250,000 Golly badges to collectors and only get ten letters a year from people who don't like the Golly.”

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)