May 24, 2022 - Economy & Business

Walmart pulls Juneteenth ice cream from stores after backlash

Walmart store front, parking lot
Walmart's store brand Great Value created a "Celebration Edition Juneteenth" ice cream. Photo: Getty Images

Walmart is pulling pints of its store-brand Great Value ice cream labeled as “Celebration Edition Juneteenth” from store shelves after backlash on social media.

Why it matters: Amid discussions of racial injustice, Juneteenth became the 11th federal holiday last June and some major retailers and businesses started offering the day as a paid holiday. The holiday commemorates the formal end of slavery in the U.S.

  • Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865 — the day U.S. Major General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, with word that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed by President Abraham Lincoln more than two years before.
  • June 19 also is known as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day and Jubilee Day.

Meanwhile, consumers took to social media to say the red velvet and cheesecake flavored ice cream was done in poor taste.

  • Bridge, a group formed by marketing and diversity, equity and inclusion executives from Unilever, Discover Financial, NBC Universal and other companies, sent a letter to Walmart executives calling on the retailer to remove the ice cream from its shelves.
  • “Would you launch an ice cream called January 27? The day the world remembers the Holocaust. Or April 7, the day that memorializes the genocide in Rwanda. Of course not,” the letter said. “So why Juneteenth?"
  • "Clearly, from the slogan on the packaging, you intended to share in the emancipation celebration of Black Americans. But launching an ice cream by its name creates more pain than support. So what went wrong here?”

What they’re saying: “Juneteenth holiday marks a commemoration and celebration of freedom and independence," Walmart said in a statement to Axios.

  • "However, we received feedback that a few items caused concern for some of our customers and we sincerely apologize. We are reviewing our assortment and will remove items as appropriate.”

Flashback: This isn't the first time a company had to change Juneteenth plans.

  • Last year, an Ikea store in Atlanta drew criticism after making a special menu for Juneteenth that Black employees called insensitive with items including fried chicken and watermelon, CBS reported.
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