Retail giant Walmart has been taking some flack for releasing a Juneteenth-themed ice cream. Critics see the product as an attempt to profit from the holiday, which celebrates the end of slavery and the Black culture. Of particular concern to some is the word “Juneteenth” is trademarked for Balchem Corp. on the Walmart ice cream. Who owns the Juneteenth trademark?
Balchem's trademark for Juneteenth was abandoned.
According to the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Balchem Corporation filed paperwork to trademark “Juneteenth” on September 2, 2021. However, records show the company abandoned the trademark on May 23, about the same time the controversy over the Walmart Juneteenth-themed ice cream started brewing.
Balchem Corporation is a New York-based chemical company that “delivers customized ingredient systems and key minerals and nutrients for the food, supplement, and pharmaceutical markets,” states the company website. Information filed with the Trademark office says the company creates flavor enhancers used in food and beverage products.
Consumers complain that white-owned company is profiting from the Black holiday.
Those upset about the Juneteenth ice cream also were concerned that a white-owned corporation tried to trademark the name of a holiday celebrating Black history.
“Balchem Corp trademarked #Juneteeth in 2021. When does this shit end? Pass this along. Boycott ALL of their products. Let them know this isnt ok,” tweeted Afro.Beer.Chick.
“Can someone trademark Christmas? Anything to be done about this? I’m tempted to fight it personally,” tweeted Laura Dierks.
“We CANNOT let these colonizers own ‘JUNETEENTH,’” tweeted Black Majority State Migration Contraband.
Several on social media recommended Walmart shoppers looking for ice cream buy the Creamalicious brand instead. Creamalicious is an ice cream brand carried by Walmart that is from a Black-owned, female-owned company.
Juneteenth recognizes the end of slavery.
Black Americans have been celebrating Juneteenth every year on June 19 since 1865. The event commemorates the day when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, heard of their emancipation. Texas was the last state in the Confederacy to have slavery. Last year, President Joe Biden declared Juneteenth a national holiday.
“Juneteenth is a day of profound weight and power. A day in which we remember the moral stain and terrible toll of slavery on our country –- what I’ve long called America’s original sin. A long legacy of systemic racism, inequality, and inhumanity,” President Biden said in his proclamation. “But it is a day that also reminds us of our incredible capacity to heal, hope, and emerge from our darkest moments with purpose and resolve.”
Walmart pulled the Juneteenth ice cream from its shelves.
After complaints flooded social media channels, Walmart pulled the Juneteenth ice cream off its shelves. “Juneteenth holiday marks a celebration of freedom and independence. 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," the company said in a statement to NBC News.