First we had Aunt Jemima selling pancakes, then Uncle Ben selling rice and somewhere in-between was Mrs. Butterworth with her sweet-tasting syrup. Now, Senator Obama has been added to the mélange of African-American caricatures used to market food, except this time it’s more about the politics than economics.
“Obama Waffles,” the brainchild of two Franklin, Tennessee writers, Mark Whitlock and Bob DeMoss, made its debut last week at the Values Voter Summit, a conservative political forum. Filled with real waffle mix, Obama Waffles sell for an inflated $10. Buyers are greeted with a Sambo-like illustration of Obama sporting a rosy, glossy full- lipped, wide-toothed grin with the slogan “Change you can taste” and “Waffling the world over.” But the racial insensitivity and political incorrectness doesn’t stop there. Another image of the Democratic presidential nominee’s image sits atop the box, wearing an Arab-like headdress with the message: “Point box toward Mecca for tastier waffles.” On the back of the box, a sombrero-clad Obama references a recipe for “Open Boarder Fiesta Waffles,” which offers tips on learning a foreign language in the time it takes to be served these “zesty treats to invade your homes.”
The duo claim their product is simply political satire but summit organizers cut off sales of the Obama Waffles boxes. In the aftermath of a hailstorm of criticism from activists, voters and Black organizations, the Summit organizers admitted they had not closely examined the boxes and understand how the depictions could be interpreted as offensive.
Whitlock doesn’t see anything wrong with their packaging. When interviewed by the Associated Press, he said, “You think of Newsman’s Own or Emeril’s—there are tons and tons of personality-brand food products on the market. So we’ve taken that model and used political satire, highlighting [Obama’s] policies and position changes.”
The box also pokes fun at former Democratic nominee John Kerry, Michelle Obama and former Obama pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright, whose caricature is posted under a missing person’s sign.