The classic sweets that have been named ‘Midget Gems’ since 1903 are so moreish you’d have thought they would be the last thing to leave a sour taste in anyone’s mouth.
But Midget Gems have been rebranded ‘Mini Gems’ by Marks & Spencer – after a disability campaigner claimed that their name could offend those with dwarfism.
Dr Erin Pritchard, a lecturer in disability and education, told supermarkets that the term midget was ‘a form of hate speech’.
The Liverpool Hope University academic criticised stores, as well as comedians and TV shows, for continuing to use the word.
Dr Pritchard – who has achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism – said: ‘The word midget is a form of hate speech and contributes to the prejudice that people with dwarfism experience on a daily basis.
‘Having spoken with various firms about the use of the word midget, it’s clear that many companies are simply unaware of just how offensive the term is, and I’ve had to explain to them why it’s such an issue.’
Midget gems were first created by the Yorkshire based Lion Confectionery who have been making sweets since 1903.
Dr Pritchard acknowledged that some people may think the change is part of ‘cancel culture’ but argued ‘when people scream the name at you in the street, it is only right that it is removed’.
The change should have happened years ago. It is easy for people not called the word to think its removal is wrong,’ Dr Pritchard, who also appeared in Channel 4’s Dating with Dwarfism, said.
She added that she had asked Amazon to remove novelty items which use the term but acknowledged it would not be possible to rename items no longer in production such as the MG Midget car or the Daihatsu Midget minivan.
An M&S spokesman confirmed the rebranding and 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.
‘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.’
Last October, during Dwarfism Awareness Month, Dr Pritchard tagged numerous supermarkets and confectionery bands in a tweet asking them to remove the word from their products.