'40 Ounce' Water Bottles Resembling Malt Liquor Were Being Sold In Brooklyn Until Activists Demanded They Be Pulled From Shelves
Some people are calling this blackface in water bottle form.
March 06, 2019 at 10:04 pm
A group of New York City residents is calling out a water company for its controversial packaging aimed at Black consumers.
The company at the center is Ounce Water, a water provider created by Luke Cage actor Theo Rossi and his wife, Meghan. Their natural spring water comes in a bottle reminiscent of Colt 45, Olde English and Private Stock malt liquor bottles.
The New York Daily News reports Canarsie’s Food World Supermarket pulled the bottles and replaced them with 20-ounce bottles after increased scrutiny from community activists.
"They called the store and said we were promoting alcoholism by selling water in that bottle,” Food World manager Kevin Chang told the Daily News. “They said they'd come and protest unless we got rid of them. We called the manufacturer. They came and took the 40s and gave us the 20s. To be quite honest, it does look like an Olde English, but it's plastic. It's not glass. It's just water. It says water on the contents."
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Ounce Water is using a marketing campaign geared toward Black consumers. (It uses the tagline “Get Ounced!” to sell its product.) Like the malt liquor companies their bottle resembles, critics claim Ounce Water is aiming to profit off Black pain.
"In a community that has been ravaged by alcohol and drugs, we are confused as to why someone would create a product that so closely resembles a malt liquor bottle,” activist group Breukelen RISE said in a letter to the company. “We cannot get behind this product staying on the shelves in our community.”
— Ounce Water® (@GetOunced) March 1, 2019
There is also growing concern from adults who believe children may turn to alcohol because of the water bottle. As children often emulate adults, the Ounce Water bottle is just one more step to placing them on an undesirable path, some say.
“It’s the same as play cigarettes. It’s grooming. It’s a precursor to making you comfortable holding that bottle,” Christine Gilliam, a longtime Breukelen Houses resident, told the Daily News.
In a statement refuting claims of racial insensitivity, Ounce Water said its mission is to provide hydration only.
“OUNCE WATER has one mission: to encourage proper hydration,” the company said in a statement. “Our motto is 'hydration made easy.' OUNCE WATER's 20 oz, 40 oz and upcoming 10 oz bottles help do the math to reach the 80 oz daily water goal.”
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