'1950 wants its ad back': Backlash over Whittaker's Plunket-themed chocolate

  • 18/02/2019

Chocolate brand Whittaker's is famous for its creative flavours, but the company's latest experiment has been called sexist and disappointing.

Coconut Ice Surprise is a limited edition block that comes in either pink or blue. The twist is the packaging is identical for both, so customers won't know what they've got until they unwrap it.

The design is a nod to the increasingly popular phenomenon of gender reveal ceremonies, in which parents-to-be inform their friends and family whether they're expecting a boy or a girl.

Popular rituals include cutting into a cake that's pink or blue inside, or releasing balloons corresponding to the colour traditionally associated with the baby's sex. The result is often a surprise to one or both of the parents as well as the guests.

The practice has become more common with the rise of social media, where videos of creative or outlandish gender reveals frequently receive a lot of clicks.

In December a Queenstown man's combined haka proposal and gender reveal went viral, while the previous month it was revealed a devastating Arizona wildfire was sparked by an explosion-based gender reveal.

Gender reveal parties have been criticised for conflating biological sex with gender identity, as well as perpetuating the stereotype that girls like pink and boys like blue.

Whittaker's tasty take on the trend has been met with disapproval from some Kiwis.

"It's so disappointing the bullshit gender reveal thing is taking hold on NZ," one woman wrote in a Facebook group which discusses feminist issues.

"It's a great thing to raise money for Plunket but this campaign is lazy - reinforcing gender stereotypes before kids even arrive here... lame, harmful!" said another.

One woman called the chocolate "bullshit marketing of the highest order", while another quipped "1950 wants its ad back".

Some women discussed their own experiences with choosing whether or not to learn their child's sex when they were pregnant.

"I found it curiouser and curiouser how miffed people got when we didn't know and didn't want to know," one wrote. "People are obsessed with genitals. It's f**ked."

"When people asked my bestie if she knew what she was having, she replied 'a baby!' with a big cheesy grin," said another. "Most of them just looked confused."

However some were more positive, with one woman saying she "still loves" the idea.

"I don't really get what the big deal is, apart from the blue and pink differential obviously being very old school," another wrote. "It's just a gimmick to raise money for Plunket which is a good thing?"

One commenter suggested Kiwis buy a Whittaker's Peanut Slab instead. "The reveal is the confines of gender are totally nuts!"

Coconut Ice Surprise is available in stores nationwide from Monday, with 20c from each block sold going to Plunket.