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Walmart Pulls Juneteenth Ice Cream From Shelves After Backlash From Black Community & Issues Apology

Walmart recently pulled a Juneteenth Ice Cream from shelves after backlash from the Black community on social media and issued an apology. Critics say the ice cream is the latest example of major corporations using cultural celebrations for profit.

“Juneteenth holiday marks a celebration of freedom and independence,” the company said in a statement to Fox Television Stations. “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.”

News of the ice cream, a swirled red velvet with cheesecake flavor, first went viral on social media on May 22. The “Celebration Edition Juneteenth Ice Cream” was created by Walmart’s Great Value brand and featured two Black hands high-fiving on red, black, green and yellow packaging, which are colors often associated with Pan-African and Black pride. The side of the ice cream’s packaging read “Share and celebrate African-American culture, emancipation and enduring hope.”

Some social media users note that the company included a trademark indicator after the word Juneteenth, which has been tied to a September 2021 patent trademarking a Juneteenth as a “flavor enhancer” used in food and beverage products.

Footwear News has reached out to Walmart for comment.

Juneteenth, which is commemorated on June 19, recognizes the end of institutionalized slavery in the United States. The date marks the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers took control of Texas and ensured all enslaved Black people were freed. Texas was the last state of the Confederacy with institutional slavery. The date was two months after the Confederacy had surrendered in the American Civil War and almost two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in Southern states.

The day was first observed in Texas in 1865 as African American Emancipation Day. Though more than 150 years old, Juneteenth was only made an official federally observed date last year when President Joe Biden signed a bill creating Juneteenth National Independence Day.

Walmart also released other Juneteenth-branded products this year, including “party supplies” like plates, napkins, and streamers. Social media users also criticized these products, with some pointing to the slogan “It’s the freedom for me” as particularly tone-deaf.

Juneteenth is often thought of as being commemorated, not celebrated, given that the date recognizes institutional freedom for generational injustice and intense suffering. Yet the bittersweet holiday does bring about dedicated celebrations of Black culture, though some members of the Black community highlight that Juneteenth-branded products should be sold by Black-owned brands.

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