The trio of sweet treats, consisting of mini white, milk, and dark chocolate ducklings, were originally labelled “crispy”, “fluffy” and “ugly” on the packaging.
The product in its original form has since been axed, and replaced by a redesign, after receiving “a small number of complaints” that the “ugly” dark chocolate duckling had racist connotations.
However, a number of people on Twitter have claimed the row is “political correctness gone mad”.
— Juan Guerrero (@nodding_donkey) April 8, 2019
@waitrose political correctness gone absolutely mad over the ducklings please get some backbone instead of giving in to the political correct.
— Stephen (@chunksoft) April 9, 2019
Please tell me this didn’t happen, has this country gone mad? Who would see this and think anything other than they named it after the ugly duckling from the story 🙄. Come on people! https://t.co/Z4yaYgqyep
— Sarah Cheek (@S_Cheek44) April 8, 2019
The snowflakes are at it again! I suppose if the white one had been labelled ‘ugly’ that would have been OK. https://t.co/2kX9VJSaOG
— Renoir (@Renoirz64) April 8, 2019
I always try to be sensitive about racial issues but those ducks doesn’t represent a particular race… > Waitrose pulls chocolate ducklings from sale after complaints of racism https://t.co/IH4yA2SrBx via @telegraphnews
— Mari 😺 Iwa (@Mari5HK) April 9, 2019
A Waitrose spokesperson has since confirmed to Yahoo UK, “the ugly duckling” is a reference to a fairy tale of the same name by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.
The story features a song with the lyrics: “There once was an ugly duckling, with feathers all stubby and brown, and the other birds said in so many words, get out of town.”
Following a redesign, the £8 ducklings set is now back on the Waitrose website.
However, it no longer features the captions on the front of the packaging.
Waitrose told Yahoo UK they are “sorry” to those who might have been offended by the products.
“We received a small number of customer comments, which we listened to,” it said.
“We are very sorry for any upset caused by the name of this product, it was absolutely not our intention to cause any offence.”
“We removed the product from sale several weeks ago while we changed the labelling and our ducklings are now back on sale.”
This isn’t the first time a mainstream food product has proved contentious.
Last year, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver got accused of cultural appropriation after he launched a “punchy jerk rice” dish.
The product was criticised on Twitter with many pointing out that jerk is a Jamaican seasoning – made up of allspice and Scotch bonnets – rather than a rice dish.