Oh Duncan Hines, if only you'd done a commercial with vanilla glaze instead of chocolate.
Duncan Hines just pulled a YouTube video promoting their new microwaveable line Amazing Glazes. The video featured vanilla cupcakes with chocolate glaze toppings singing some sort of a cappella be-bop (which the advertisers refer to as "hip hop").
Depending on how well acquainted you are with America's racial history, the cupcakes look strikingly like blackface. Let the backlash begin!
But is the commercial racist? Keep reading to see the video yourself.
Hip Hop Cupcakes may have been pulled from Duncan Hines' YouTube channel, but you can still see it here and, well, all over the Internet.
It sure made me squirm, but then I'm just a Mexican American. I asked a couple of friends who are black and aren't afraid to call people on their racism what they thought and more or less got a shrug. Is it blackface? Oh yeah. Were they offended? Eh. They had other complaints:
That music is not hip hop.
The music sounds like Take 6 and not Hip Hop.
I am probably more offended by the disembodiment of the actress and how that speaks to reductionist attitudes about women's work, rendering women invisible, etc.
Wait, disembodiment of the actress ...?
As I waded into the murky swamplands of various blog comment sections (Eater, Mother Jones, The Source), one thing became very clear: people are much more offended by the mis-attribution of musical genre than by apparent cupcake minstrelsy. Also, calling anything racist can cause knee-jerk spontaneous combustion among some white people.
Meanwhile, Duncan Hines is faced with the dreary question of how to move on after the 40 bajillion views of their first Amazing Glazes video. Check out what they have up now: sigh, a boring lady talking about her sad addiction to microwaveable chocolate syrup.
This reminds me of what I found most offensive -- the idea that we even need this product. How is this different from melting some chocolate chips in your microwave oven? Oh yes, Amazing Glazes don't taste as good. And melted chocolate chips don't have as fancy an ingredients list:
Powdered Sugar (Sugar, Corn Starch), Water, Fructose, Corn Syrup, Dark Chocolate (Sugar, Palm Kernal and Palm Oil, Cocoa Powder, Cocoa Powder Processed with Alkali, Sorbitan Tristearate, Soy Lecithin [Emulsifier], Vanilla Extract), Vegetable Shortening (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil and Cottonseed Oil, Palm Oil), Cocoa Powder Processed with Alkali. Contains 2% or Less of: Salt, Natural and Artificial Chocolate Flavor (High Fructose Corn Syrup), Monoglycerides, Pectin, Modified Food Starch, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Glucono-Delta-Lactone, Preservatives (Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate).
Oh yeah. Don't you hate it when I play the Ingredients Card?
Image via Duncan Hines