M&S rebrands Midget Gems to avoid offending people with dwarfism

The sweets are now called Mini Gems following a campaign by a disability academic.

Josie Clarke
Thursday 13 January 2022 17:01
The sweets have been rebranded Mini Gems (M&S/PA)
The sweets have been rebranded Mini Gems (M&S/PA)

Marks and Spencer has changed the name of its popular Midget Gems sweets to avoid offending people with dwarfism.

The retailer has rebranded its version of the confectionery as Mini Gems following a campaign by a disability academic.

Dr Erin Pritchard, a lecturer in disability studies at Liverpool Hope University – who has achondroplasia, a condition which stunts growth – had previously approached supermarkets and confectionery makers about changing the name of the sweet, raising her concerns that the use of the word “midget” is seen as derogatory for little people.

M&S is the first retailer to react to her campaign and has changed the labelling on its packaging.

An M&S spokeswoman said: “We are committed to being an inclusive retailer – from how we support our colleagues, through to the products we offer and the way we market them to our 32 million customers.

The sweets are now known as Mini Gems (M&S/PA)

“Following suggestions from our colleagues and the insights shared by Dr Erin Pritchard, we introduced new Mini Gem packaging last year, which has since been rolled out to all of our stores.”

In her recent book Disability Hate Speech, Dr Pritchard argues the word midget should be seen as a form of hate speech due to 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.

“Its origin automatically dehumanises people like me. It was a term popularised during the Victorian freak show, where many disabled people, including people with dwarfism, were oppressed and exploited.”

Tesco said it will be reviewing the name of its own product.

A spokesman for the supermarket said: “We are a diverse and inclusive retailer and we would not want any of our products to cause offence.

“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 its Maynards Bassetts brand of Midget Gems would soon be re-named Mini Gems.

A spokesman said: “We are grateful for all feedback that we receive from our consumers, including the view that the product name ‘Midget Gems’ can be offensive to people with dwarfism.

“As one of the country’s most-loved confectionery brands we are proud to be acting on this feedback and making a change to the name of this pack to ensure that we can be more inclusive – and remove any potential for offence.

“Our rebranded ‘Maynards Bassetts Mini Gems’ will be hitting shelves from May 2022.”

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