Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: AriZona changed its "Southern Style Sweet Tea" label after consumers complained that it depicted offensive images.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, December 2007]
Origins: In December 2007, an e-mail exhorting folks to boycott products manufactured by AriZona Beverage, a New York-based company that makes flavored iced teas and energy drinks, began circulating in the online world. That call to arms decried the image depicted on the AriZona "Southern Style Sweet Tea" label as conveying a racially insensitive message. (For those not familiar with the term, "sweet tea" is iced tea that has been sweetened.)
The controversial label showed a white, multi-columned plantation-style house framed by lush green trees, with a man and woman holding hands on its veranda and a woman carrying what appeared to be a basket standing in the driveway leading to the house. A closer look shows it's impossible to determine the race of any of these three figures. If any of them could be said to be darker-skinned than the others, it's the man standing on the porch holding hands with the woman in blue, a posture that presents him as one-half of the couple that owns the house.
The figure the
AriZona Beverages is in the process of changing the labels on its "Southern Style Sweet Tea" to something far less objectionable than a plantation-style house. Its new label shows two paddle wheel boats steaming down a river on a moonlit night.
Regarding the change and the reason for it, the company has posted the following statement on their web site. (Because the AriZona site is done entirely in Flash animation we can't provide a direct link to the company's message; to reach it on your own, go to drinkarizona.com, then under the "About" tab, click "Recent Concerns" and then click the "Read More" hyperlink offered in the "AriZona Sweet Tea Concern" area.)
ARIZONA SWEET TEA CONCERNLast updated: 25 March 2008
We want to thank everyone who took the time to share with us their concerns about the packaging of our Southern Style Sweet Tea. The dialogue helped us to understand the problem and move forward to correct it. Although it was never our intention for the Sweet Tea label to offend any of our customers, we understand the change in label design was needed. We have commissioned an artist to totally redesign all of the Southern Style labels, and are already in the final stages of implementing the first phase of the changeover. The new artwork will appear first on our can line and next on our glass and plastic bottles.
Southern Style tea has been one of our most popular drinks over the past five years or so. People of all walks of life enjoy this and many of our other products, and we do not ever want to alienate any of them. We hope you like our new design and will continue to support the AriZona brand.
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the snopes.com logo are registered service marks of snopes.com.