One of Victoria's most recognisable brand names has been consigned to the history books after 85 years with Coon cheese renamed.
Saputo Dairy Australia which owns the former Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory where the cheese was produced announced Cheer as the new name.
Gunditjmara Elder and member of the National Hate Crime Network Charmaine Clarke said the change was an important step in addressing systemic racism within Australia.
"Words have weight, they communicate, inform meaning, attitudes and values," Ms Clarke said. "How we use words be it in private conversations or public platforms have power, they inform ideas. It's that power that commercial enterprises use words to their advantage in advertisements, slogans and jingles.
"A product be it cheese or a chair, uses words to package and ingrain its brand and preferences in the consumers mind.
"The product previously called Coon is for many indigenous people a vicious and racist slur wrapped around an innocuous product such as cheese.
A racial slur, although not intended by its makers who 85 years ago named it after their founder, sat alongside other products on the shelves for years and featured in commercials on our televisions, was also yelled at us by bigots.Charmaine Clarke
Ms Clarke said the racial epithet had a prescient history first used in the United States, where it has served as a derogatory slur against African Americans since the 1930s.
"The fact Saputo Dairy Australia has chosen to change the brand name to Cheer is not trivial but it's also not a remedy for the hardening racialized political lines being experienced in Australia and elsewhere," she said. "It is after all one word of many other words in a potential conversation.
"Yet it has merit, for how we seek to find and choose meaningful conciliatory and respectful conversations about race relations, is by function one word at a time."
In a survey conducted by The Standard, 601 respondents out of 733 said they did not think the name Cheer was good while 137 respondents of 667 said the name change was positive.
In a media statement released on Wednesday morning, Saputo said the new name was selected after a "careful and diligent review" of the brand while "aligning with current attitudes and perspectives". The change came after criticism the name was racist.
Saputo chief executive Lino Saputo said defeating racism was more important than the name of a cheese.
"Treating people with respect and without discrimination is one of our basic principles and it is imperative that we continue to uphold this in everything we do," he said.
"Our decision to change the name of Australia's much-loved cheese reinforces this commitment to build a culture of acceptance, inclusion and respect where everyone feels a sense of belonging."
The original cheese brand was named after American Edward William Coon, who in 1926 patented the "ripening process" for the original product.
Saputo commercial director Cam Bruce said Cheer cheese was for everyone.
"We trust our valued consumers and those who are new to our products will embrace this new name," he said.
"Cheer cheese is the same recipe that millions have come to love, and will continue to grow up with, for generations to come.
"We remain committed to our Australian farmers who continue to produce the high-quality milk that goes into all of our products, including Cheer cheese."
Canadian dairy firm Saputo bought the Warrnambool Cheese and Dairy Company, in 2017.
Cheer cheese will appear on supermarket shelves nationwide from July 2021.