Robertson's axes Golly after 91 years

LONDON - Robertson's, the jam and marmalade brand, is finally scrapping its controversial mascot, the Golly, after 91 years.

The company is dropping the mascot in favour of characters from the books of Roald Dahl in an attempt to appeal to modern families.

Robertson's denied that the decision was linked to the contentious image the Golly earned during the Eighties, when pressure groups labelled the image as racist.

In 1983, the Golly survived a boycott of Robinson's products by the former Greater London Council, which was one of the groups to call the image racist. Soon afterwards, it was moved from the front of jars to the back and, in 1988, it was dropped from the company's TV advertising campaigns.

The Golly will be replaced with such Roald Dahl characters as Willie Wonka and the Big Friendly Giant.

The Golly was discovered in the early 20th century when the company's founder John Robertson visited the US. He noticed children playing with rag dolls made from old clothes and copied the image to use in promoting his company's products.

The figure became increasingly popular as a marketing symbol, particularly for the company's Golden Shred marmalade. A Golly collector's scheme began in 1928 where consumers sent in coupons from jars in return for a badge.

Since the first character, Golfer Golly, was introduced wearing a waistcoat with the Golden Shred logo across it, 20m badges have been sent out.

Although Rank Hovis MacDougall, which now owns Robertson's, denies the decision has anything to do with the pressure it has come under from racial pressure groups, anti-racist groups welcomed the decision.

Anti-racist organisations have been campaigning for two decades for the Golly to be scrapped. They believe it is an "offensive caricature of black people from which the word 'wog' was derived".

When the Golly was first created, it was called the Golliwog. However, the name was later changed when it was decided it was offensive.

The Golly will begin to disappear from shop shelves from September, when its replacements, which also include Matilda, The Twits and James and the Giant Peach, will appear on jars of Roberston's jams and marmalades.

Claire Billings, recommends


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