Cheer cheese

  (Redirected from Coon cheese)

Cheer (stylised as CHEER), formerly marketed as Coon,[1] is the Australian trademark of a cheddar cheese (known as "tasty" in Australia[2][3]) produced by the Warrnambool Cheese and Butter company, which is majority-owned by Canadian dairy company Saputo Inc.[4]

Inception1931 (1931) as Red Coon; from 1959 COON; from 2021 CHEER
ManufacturerWarrnambool Cheese and Butter, Allansford, Victoria, Australia
Parent company is Saputo Inc.

The Kraft Walker Cheese Co. (a partnership between Fred Walker and James L. Kraft) launched a cheese known as "Red Coon" around 1931.[1] In October 1949, Kraft Foods Inc. registered the trademark "COON" for cheese with the US Patent Office, claiming use since 1910.[5]

The company formerly stated that the name derived from the American cheesemaker Edward Coon of Philadelphia, who patented a method in the US in 1926 for fast maturation of cheese via high temperature and humidity.[6][7][8] However, there appears to be no indication in older Australian sources that Kraft Walker Cheese Co. patented or used his method[citation needed].

On 13 January 2021, the chair and CEO of Saputo Inc. announced that "Coon" cheese was to be rebranded as "Cheer" cheese, the new name scheduled to be launched in July 2021.[9] The name was chosen to signify happiness.[10]



In 1916, Fred Walker – after having had some success with manufacturing foods – learnt of Chicago businessman James L. Kraft's processing method of halting the maturation of cheese. Walker went to the United States to meet him and acquire the Australian rights to use this method. He began a partnership with Kraft to manufacture this "processed cheese" in 1925, and in May 1926, the Kraft Walker Cheese Co. was registered – the parent company of Kraft Foods Ltd.[11] Kraft Walker then began to make processed "Kraft Cheddar Cheese" at their South Melbourne plant.[12]

Red Coon (1931–1959)Edit

From around July 1931,[a][13][14][1] a cheese was marketed by Kraft Walker Cheese Co. as "Red Coon", which was "not processed in any way, but very finely matured by a secret method, which gives it a distinctive mellow flavor and smooth consistency". The same article refers to "special technical staff, which [were] engaged in the preparation of new products", including Red Coon.[1] The cheese was also advertised as being "2 years old".[15]

Walker had hired Cyril Callister[11] as chief scientist and production superintendent of his factory,[16] and it was he who had formulated Vegemite[17] and the Kraft Walker recipe for processed cheese. Callister also built up a well-staffed laboratory at the factory.[16] According to author, academic and activist Stephen Hagan, Red Coon cheese used a different method to Coon's, as it was pasteurised, which was not part of his patented process.[10][6]

In November 1934 Kraft Walker leased the factory owned by Warrnambool Cheese and Butter at Allansford, and soon expanded it.[12]

Red Coon was coated with red wax, later replaced with cellophane, and the red stripe in the current logo is a residual reference to the original packaging.[7] It also said that production of Red Coon paused in December 1942 because of World War II, and began again in June 1948 at Allansford and also at Quinalow on the Darling Downs in Queensland.[8] On 7 October 1949, Kraft Foods registered the trademark "COON" with the US Patent Office, claiming use since 1910.[5]

In November 1951, a new Kraft-Walker factory, primarily for the manufacture of processed cheese, was opened in Northgate, Brisbane. The buildings included a cool store for Red Coon cheese, which was being made at Quinalow in Queensland,[18] and described as "mature cheese".[19] It is described as "mature" in many advertisements[20][21] and articles in the 1950s, although one article explicitly excludes it from the category of Cheddar cheeses.[22]

"Red Coon" cheese was referred to in a discussion about grading cheese in the Queensland Parliament in December 1958.[23] Advertising under this name seem to have dried up in 1959.[24]

Coon (1959–2021)Edit

In 1959, Coon "Tasty" cheese starts appearing in the press, with an illustrated advertisement showing labels which call the processed product "cheddar" and the Coon variety, sold in 8-ounce (230 g) packages, described as "Kraft natural tasty Coon Cheese, fully matured", with a "robust flavour men really appreciate".[25] A 1961 ad, also in the Australian Women's Weekly, shows a slightly different label, including the information that it is "Manufactured in Melbourne" by Kraft Foods Ltd. The ad says it is "aged to full maturity", and its marketing suggests its appeal to "active men".[26]

21st centuryEdit

Lion Dairy & Drinks operated the brand for some years, until Warrnambool Cheese and Butter bought back the brand in May 2015.[4] Warrnambool Cheese and Butter is majority-owned by Canadian dairy company Saputo Inc.[4]

On 13 January 2021, Lino A. Saputo, the chair and CEO of Saputo Inc., announced the rebranding of the cheese under the name "Cheer", which will be launched in July 2021, following years of controversy over its name.[27][9]

Naming controversyEdit

The former product name, which it shared with a racial slur, was defended by previous manufacturers Kraft Foods and Dairy Farmers despite decades-long campaigns to change it,[28][29] including through challenges to the Australian Human Rights Commission in 1999 and Advertising Standards Bureau in 2001 by Hagan.[9][30][31] In the public debate raised by the campaign to change it, some of those who objected to the change of name claimed that the term was not used as a derogatory term in Australia, rather being an American racist term. However, Hagan and QNews reporter Destiny Rogers have said that the research in their e-book, COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese, shows the term was used in Australia as a derogatory term for Indigenous Australians as well as other people of colour, and was especially common between the 1870s and 1939 before fading from the language during World War II and coming back into use in the 1970s.[6][non-primary source needed]

Hagan again challenged the name in 2008, and said that Dairy Farmers had told him that it was named after Edward Coon, "who revolutionised the speeding process of making cheese".[8] According to Hagan, this story had only first been mentioned by the brand owners in the 1980s.[6]

In the wake of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests in Australia, on 24 July 2020 Saputo Inc. announced the name would be changed.[30][32]

On 13 January 2021, Lino A. Saputo, the chair and CEO of Saputo Inc., announced the new name as "Cheer" cheese. He said, "Treating people with respect and without discrimination is one of our basic principles".[33][34] The new name will be launched in July 2021.[27][9] A number of other Australian companies also rebranded some of their products which have names with racist connotations in 2020, and others face pressure to do so.[33]

As of 2021, Hagan is claiming legal damages of A$2.1 million for what he calls "21 years of corporations undermining his claims that the cheese brand was not named after...William Edward Coon".[10]

Coon's processEdit

In 1926, American entrepreneur and cheesemaker Edward William Coon of Philadelphia patented a method for fast maturation of cheese via high temperature and humidity,[7][35][36][37] His method explicitly excluded pasteurisation, which kills all bacteria and therefore allows cheese to last for much longer when stored.[10] Coon once operated 14 cheese factories in New York State, before selling the businesses and going to work for the Kraft-Phenix Cheese Company in Philadelphia[8] in 1928. He sold his patent for ripening cheese at the same time.[38] Coon was kept on as manager[6] until his death in 1934.[39]

From around October 1942, Kraft began to market a cheese as "Kraft Coon cheese" in the US, although it was not registered as a trademark until 1949.[5][40]


  1. ^ Old web page incorrectly says November 1935.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d "Kraft Cheese". The Herald (Melbourne) (16, 952). Victoria, Australia. 16 September 1931. p. 27. Retrieved 14 January 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  2. ^ "Coon Tasty 100% Natural Cheddar Cheese – 1Kg". WA Fresh. 4 July 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  3. ^ "Tasty Cheese". What's Different In Australia. 27 January 2014. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Smith, Simone (2 March 2015). "Warrnambool Cheese and Butter to buy Lion's 'everyday cheese business'". The Herald and Weekly Times. Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  5. ^ a b c United States. Patent Office (5 September 1950). "Claim of ownership No. 37,857 – Cheese". Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office. U.S. Patent Office. 638 (1): 59. Retrieved 14 January 2021. Kraft Foods Company, Chicago, Ill. Filed October 7, 1949... Claims use since 1910.
  6. ^ a b c d e Rogers, Destiny (22 December 2020). "COON: more holes than Swiss cheese". QNews. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  7. ^ a b c "Coon Cheese – The Full Coon Story". Coon. Archived from the original on 4 September 2013. Note: Archived page will not display properly without an alternative to Adobe Flash (discontinued 31 Dec 2020).
  8. ^ a b c d e Molloy, Shannon (16 June 2020). "The problem with calls to rename Coon Cheese". Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  9. ^ a b c d "Coon Cheese changes name to Cheer Cheese, pledging to 'build a culture of acceptance'". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 13 January 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  10. ^ a b c d Webb, Carolyn (13 January 2021). "Coon cheese name change 'should have been' run past Indigenous people: Steven Hagan". The Age. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  11. ^ a b Farrer, K. T. H. (1990). "Walker, Fred (1884–1935)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 16 January 2021. This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990
  12. ^ a b "Kraft Foods Ltd". Private Revenue Perfins of Victoria. Retrieved 16 January 2021. Article includes historical information about a stamp used by Kraft Foods Ltd. in 1932 in Australia.}}
  13. ^ "Advertising". Advertiser and Register. 31 July 1931. p. 18. Retrieved 16 January 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  14. ^ "[Trove search result, "red coon", Jan 1926–31 Sep 1931]". Trove. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  15. ^ "Advertising". Westralian Worker (1256). 9 December 1932. p. 7. Retrieved 17 January 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  16. ^ a b Farrer, K. T. H. "Callister, Cyril Percy (1893–1949)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 15 January 2021. This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979
  17. ^ Wickham, Dorothy. "Cyril Callister (1893–1949) Industrial Chemist and Food Technologist (Inventor of Vegemite)". Archived from the original on 21 October 2012.
  18. ^ "New Process Cheese Factory to be Opened". Pittsworth Sentinel. 51. Queensland, Australia. 9 November 1951. p. 1. Retrieved 16 January 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  19. ^ "Downs Makes Up Drought Losses". Queensland Country Life. 18 (4). Queensland, Australia. 7 August 1952. p. 13. Retrieved 16 January 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  20. ^ "Advertising". Bunyip (2696). South Australia. 30 July 1954. p. 1. Retrieved 16 January 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  21. ^ "[Advertisement for BCC grocery store]". The Courier-Mail (3541). Queensland, Australia. 1 April 1948. p. 3. Retrieved 16 January 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  22. ^ "Cheeses you can buy in Brisbane". The Courier-Mail. 26 August 1953. p. 11. Retrieved 16 January 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  23. ^ Queensland Parliament (2 December 1958). "Legislative Assembly [Hansard]" (PDF).
  24. ^ "[Trove search 1958-1965, "Red Coon"]". Trove. Retrieved 16 January 2021. (Search excludes dog racing terms as it appears there was a greyhound called Red Coon.)
  25. ^ "Advertising". The Australian Women's Weekly. 27 ([?]). Australia. 14 October 1959. p. 24. Retrieved 16 January 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  26. ^ "Advertising". The Australian Women's Weekly. 28 (45). 12 April 1961. p. 28. Retrieved 16 January 2021 – via National Library of Australia. If the man in your life likes his cheese tasty, he'll appreciate Coon – and he'll thank you for buying it for him!
  27. ^ a b Lathouris, Olivana (13 January 2021). "Coon Cheese's new name revealed". 9News. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  28. ^ "Coon name to come under the spotlight again". Australian Food News. 26 September 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  29. ^ Barbeler, David (26 September 2008). "Coon cheese next on anti-racism hit-list". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  30. ^ a b Visontay, Elias (24 July 2020). "Australia's Coon cheese to change name in effort to help 'eliminate racism'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  31. ^ "Oz row over 'Coon' cheese ad". News24. 27 March 2001. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  32. ^ "Coon cheese's name to be changed over racism concerns". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 24 July 2020. Retrieved 24 July 2020.
  33. ^ a b "Coon Cheese rebrands in Australia after anti-racism campaign". BBC News. 13 January 2021. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  34. ^ Marshall, Andrew (13 January 2021). "Coon cheese melts away as Saputo says Cheer is new brand name". Farm Online. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  35. ^ Reports of the Tax Court of the United States, vol. 21 (1954), p. 543: "Among the assets acquired from Coon was United States Patent No. 1,579,196, issued to Edward William Coon on 30 March 1926. It did not, however, issue a patent to Cameron Swinton who tried to register it at the same time. The patent covered a process for curing cheddar cheese at specified ranges of temperature and humidity."
  36. ^ Lucius Lincoln Van Slyke, Walter Van Price, Cheese: a treatise on the manufacture of American Cheddar cheese and some other varieties (New York: Orange Judd Publishing Company Inc., 1952 edition) p. 296: "He cited the process patented by Coon (1926) for producing the black, wax-coated cheese which was known in the trade as 'Coon Cheese'."
  37. ^ US Patent 1,579,196 (scan) 30 March 1926
  38. ^ "May sell coon plants". The Journal and Republican and Lowville Times. Lowville, New York: H. A. Phillips Pub. Co. 1 November 1928. p. 8. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  39. ^ "E. W. Coon Dead". The Journal and Republican. Lowville, New York. 1 February 1934. p. 8. Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  40. ^ "The Adirondack Record-Elizabethtown Post. (Au Sable Forks, N.Y.) 1920-1975, October 22, 1942, Image 8". NYS Historic Newspapers. 22 October 1942. Retrieved 4 February 2021.

Further readingEdit