RICHMOND, Va. — Swedish Match has rebranded its Red Man chewing tobacco to America’s Best Chew. And while the packaging has changed, the chewing tobacco inside remains the same.
The new name comes as part of the product’s 135th anniversary and reflects the success of the product while providing greater alignment with company values, the Richmond, Va.-based tobacco company said.
“Understanding that an essential part of being America’s best means being a leader, Swedish Match worked diligently over the past several months to make changes in response to our heightened awareness and our desire to be more inclusive,” said Joe Ackerman, vice president of marketing. “Consumers and diverse agency partners were selected to participate in the rebranding research. It was critical and valuable for us to gain these insights and recommendations to develop America’s Best Chew packaging.”
Several consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands—from Mrs. Butterworth’s to Uncle Ben’s to Aunt Jemima—have seen name or image changes over the last couple of years, many sparked by racial protests in 2020. Teams like the Cleveland Indians (now the Cleveland Guardians) and the Washington Redskins (temporarily branded as the Washington Football Team) are also steering away from using Native American terms or imagery.
“I applaud the Swedish Match company for retiring the use of ‘Red Man’ as a product name,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Nationally, we are moving away from the use of derogatory terms and depictions of Native Americans as product mascots because representations are stereotypical caricatures, and they do not honor us or reflect how we live and thrive, both as individuals and as unique Tribal Nations today. The announcement to change the brand’s name and imagery gives us hope that more companies, schools and sports teams hear us, and that we will continue to make impactful national changes for the betterment of Indian Country.”
Fawn Sharp, President of the National Congress of American Indians added, “This decision exemplifies the global awakening of these harmful practices toward Indigenous Peoples and gives us hope that others will follow Swedish Match’s bold and courageous lead.”
The transition to the new America’s Best Chew packaging will begin within the next few weeks, Swedish Match said on Jan. 20.
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