This Country Is Selling Chocolate Ice Cream With a President Obama Cartoon

May 9th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

A Russian ice cream factory made a new chocolate ice cream called "Obamka," which in Russian means "Little Obama," according to The Moscow Times. The name was and attempt at humor, according to the makers, however some people are calling it mildly racist.

Rasil Mustafin, the deputy development director at the the ice cream factory named Slavitsa, told The Moscow Times that the ice cream was named after Obama because of its chocolate flavor but it was not meant to be offensive.

“There's no political underpinning. We have no intention to offend anyone,” he said. “Someone at the factory came up with the idea.”

The product designers said that they came up with the idea for the Obamka cartoon from a Soviet-era cartoon featuring an imaginary island inhabited by African children. “We just like the name,” said the factory's financial director Anatoli Ragimkhanov. “It's so amusing.”

However some people, like U.S. officials, don't believe Slavitsa and find the packaging to be offensive. Reuters reported that an unnamed official, who had not seen the product, didn't find it funny at all.

"While I haven’t seen this particular product for sale, we are disappointed by the media-driven anti-Americanism that has become so prevalent in Russia over the past few years, particularly when it takes on a discriminatory or racist bent," the unnamed official told Reuters.

The factory is based in the same Russian city where a cafe dedicated to Vladimir Putin opened with pictures of President Obama on its toilet paper, according to Reuters.

Race can be a controversial subject in the U.S. but it may not play the same in other countries like Russia, that are more racially homogenous. There are less than 70,000 Black people in Russia, according to Russia Now, a supplement to The Washington Post. Yelena Khanga, a Black-Russian and a former Russian TV personality told Russia Now that reactions to Black people in Russia range from curiosity to open racism.

“I was part of the first generation...,” Khanga said. . “...I can be the first to tell you what kinds of problems we had," she said. But, of course, you can’t compare them to the kinds of things that happened in America.”

This is not the first time President Obama has been used for an ice cream flavor. In 2009 Ben & Jerry's, a company created by two politically liberal ice cream makers, made the flavor "Yes Pecan" in honor of Obama' historic inauguration as the first Black president, according to the New York Daily News.

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