Obama Fingers. Photograph: AP
A company in German has just introduced a line of snacks called "Obama Fingers": frozen chicken fingers with curry dip. To Americans, marketing a fried chicken dish with the name of our first African-American president instantly tingles our sensitivity to racial stereotyping and racist imagery.
According to the archaic stereotype, fried chicken is a preferred food choice of African Americans. But Americans know it's just that -- a stereotype -- and that blacks here eat every kind of food whites do and everyone loves fried chicken. No American company would ever market a product like this for fear of being accused of mocking the nation's first black president by associating him with an ugly stereotype. The fried chicken association is ugly to me because it brings back foul racial stereotypes from our nation's past that I won't repeat in this space.
A representative for Sprehe tells the English online edition of Der Spiegel that the company was unaware of the racial overtones, which are instantly apparent to Americans.
"It was supposed to be a homage to the American lifestyle and the new US president," Judith Witting, sales manager for the company, told the paper.
According to its website, the company also sells "Hawaii" snacks -- chicken breast with pineapple and cheese, and other frozen treats. Meanwhile, Obama is known to favour healthful, locally sourced cuisine. A typical menu by his Chicago personal chef, recently hired at the White House, includes citrus salad with fennel, oranges and grapefruit, seared diver scallops, couscous and black cabbage.
I suppose German marketers who weren't reared in America aren't as sensitive to racialised images and subtle stereotypes. Should they have known better? Also important: If the German marketers were ignorant of the connotations, as they claim, is it still offensive?