The origin of this Spanish candy mascot isn’t quite as cute as it looks.
An article by Penny K
Launched in 1961, a time when racist stereotypes were commonplace, with a mascot created by Spanish graphic artist Juan Tudela Ferez, Conguitos’ package features a pygmy-like caricature with thick red lips and bulging eyes.
Its name, Conguitos, is derived from a loose translation meaning “little Congo boys”. It was chosen in light of the heightened interest in Africa during that period when Congo had just gained independence. Besides, who can resist taking interest in a country that sells chocolate?
Spaniards consume a good 30 million bags of chocolate-covered-peanut Conguitos a year. Meanwhile the politically correct are finding fault with Conguitos which they find to be a racist symbol. When British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, who was poised to win the title last year, angry Spanish fans spewed racist slurs against him; some wrote on his website “Conguito, you are going to die.”
In 2003, a Spanish professor launched a letter-writing campaign to the company in protest of the “racist and insulting” packaging. The company spokesman responded by saying that most consumers have shown nothing but “affection and support” and that the Conguitos mascot “respects everyone.”
Conguitos’ packaging has gone through quite a makeover since. The character no longer resides in a jungle, and he doesn’t carry a spear, doesn’t let his belly button hang loose, and went through drastic lip minimising surgery. Conguito has also gained a white alter ego.
We have to admit, Conguitos the character is rather adorable but we can also see why it had to take flak. But when all’s said and done, we think it still sounds way better than the chocolate-covered-peanut brand Nips!