Marks and Spencer has changed the name of its popular Midget Gems sweets to avoid offending people with dwarfism.
The retailer rebranded its version of the confectionery as Mini Gems following a campaign by a disability academic.
Dr Erin Pritchard, a senior lecturer in disability studies at Liverpool Hope University – who suffers from the growth-retarding condition achondroplasia – had previously approached supermarkets and confectioners to change the name of the candy, fearing the he use of the word “dwarf” is considered pejorative for little people.
M&S is the first retailer to react to its campaign and has changed the labeling of its packaging.
A spokeswoman for M&S said: “We are committed to being an inclusive retailer – from how we support our colleagues to the products we offer and how we market them to our 32 million customers.
“Following suggestions from our colleagues and insights shared by Dr Erin Pritchard, we introduced a new Mini Gem packaging last year, which has since been rolled out to all of our stores.”
In his recent book Disability Hate Speech, Dr. Pritchard argues that the word dwarf should be considered a form of hate speech because of its origins in Victorian freak shows.
She wrote in Big Issue North: ‘Often referred to by people with dwarfism as the m-word, it is a term derived from the word midge, meaning gnat or sandfly.
“His background automatically dehumanizes people like me. It was a term popularized during the Victorian freak show, where many disabled people, including people with dwarfism, were oppressed and exploited.
Tesco said it would review the name of its own product.
A spokesperson for the supermarket said: ‘We are a diverse and inclusive retailer and we wouldn’t want any of our products to be offensive.
“We are grateful to Dr. Pritchard for bringing this to our attention and we will be reviewing the name of this product.”
Mondelez later said that his Maynards Bassetts brand of Midget Gems would soon be renamed Mini Gems.
A spokesperson said: “We are grateful for all of the feedback we receive from our consumers, including the view that the product name ‘Midget Gems’ may be offensive to people with dwarfism.
“As one of the nation’s most beloved confectionery brands, we are proud to address this feedback and change the name of this pack to ensure we can be more inclusive and eliminate any potential for infringement. .
“Our rebranded ‘Maynards Bassetts Mini Gems’ will be hitting shelves from May 2022.”