Utah candy store removes product name after social media complaints of racism
The Lehi store had named the chocolates “Nephite” and “Lamanite,” Book of Mormon references that some find offensive.
A Lehi chocolate factory is removing the names from two of its candies – both referencing Book of Mormon characters who people on social media have slammed as racist.
“We had a number of DMs this morning and have decided to change our name,” said John Foster Lanenga, owner of Just add chocolatesaid Thursday.
The sweets — seen in a glass display case, a photo of which was posted on Twitter by Amanda Hendrix-Komoto, professor of history at Montana State University – bears the name of “Hill Cumorah”. This name refers to location in Manchester, New Yorkwhere Joseph Smith, founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, met the angel Moroni each year from 1823 to 1827, according to Church History.
The part that caused complaints to the confectioner was that the milk chocolate version was labeled “Nephite” and the dark chocolate version was labeled “Lamanite”.
A reviewer of the store on Yelp cited passages from the Book of Mormon, which describe the Nephites who lived in ancient America as “white, exceedingly beautiful, and lovely,” while the Lamanites there were cursed by God, causing ” a skin of darkness came upon them”, making them “odious to your people”.
In recent years, the church made revisions to some of the racial references in the Book of Mormon, though many people of color in the Latter-day Saint faith say racism runs deep in the Church and is a problem that goes beyond scripture.
The Yelp user, identified as Emily C. from Phoenix, wrote, “I called the store to find out if it’s true that they carry chocolates that say Lamanite and Nephite. The boy who answered thinks this is a very funny joke, doesn’t care what anyone else thinks of it and has been very dismissive and rude in dealing with a potential client trying to educate him on the ramifications of naming its products after racist fairy tales.
This was just one of many one star reviews on Just Add Chocolate Yelp Page around noon Thursday, accusing the shop of racism. Users wrote from as far away as San Francisco and Missouri weighed in.
A Lehi Yelp user identified as Will T. defended the store and slammed the one-star reviews: “You keyboard warriors should find a better use of your time than trying to destroy a business for something. who offends you.”
Lanenga said on Thursday that “I had no idea it was really offensive to people until today” – although he also said he had filed a complaint or two about a year ago.
“We have changed the names of our plays several times, to keep up with current events and popular names,” Lanenga said. In the past, he said, the shop has sold Elvis Pretzels, Harley Pecan Patties, Puff Daddies, Walnut Disney, Pe-Kanye West and Johnny Cashew. Some of the names, he said, were suggested by customers.
“But Hill Cumorah we’ve had for four years, and we’ve really had very little response,” he said. “Most people walk in and out laughing, wow, that’s funny. And we serve them on golden plates.
Lanenga added that “we have hundreds of customers a day, some names will offend some people. Of course we consider that, but I can’t say that we’ve never had a complaint about the other names. But if it’s offensive to people, we’ll remove it. We have already removed it. So now it will just be Hill Cumorah.
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