Grocery Store Makes Gender-neutral 'Gingerbread Person' and Twitter Has a Lot to Say About It

A U.K. supermarket announced a competition to name its latest sweet tread: a gingerbread person set for release in stores later this year.

The brand, Co-op, told Newsweek it wanted to make cookies that appealed to all its customers. But the news prompted a mixed response on social media, with many users criticizing the brand for appealing to "snowflakes."

"Our Food team is adding the final touches to a new Co-op gingerbread person, but they've yet to come up with a name," the company wrote in a statement announcing the launch. "They'd like members to join in and suggest a fitting name for our new little biscuity friend."

The brand added it plans to dress its gingerbread people up in seasonal outfits throughout the year.

Some social media users offered genuine name suggestions, including user Sofa Surfer, who suggested the name "Fran." "[It's] gender neutral. Plus, [it's] fun," the user wrote.

But others criticized the brand for appealing to "snowflakes." User Paul Wellman commented: "How about stop trying to make up more sales and whipping the 'snowflakes' up and do something more constructive with your packaging and make it 100% recyclable!"

"It's a biscuit! Not a symbol of gender equality/inequality/neutrality," user Jordan Tanner commented on a tweet from The Mirror. "If this gender neutral bisexual biscuit can solve the problem of gender equality, maybe it should also be placed in charge of the brexit deal."

Others compared the competition to a similar poll that asked people in the U.K. to name an arctic research vessel. Although "Boaty McBoatface" won the public vote, officials decided to name the boat "RSS Sir David Attenborough," after the famed naturalist and broadcaster.

As a compromise, a remotely operated vehicle aboard the ship was named "Boaty McBoatface."

Commenting on a post about Co-op's competition, some Twitter users suggested "Ginger McGingerface."

A Co-op spokesperson told Newsweek: "Inclusion and diversity lie at the heart of Co-op's values and we're looking to create a character which can be used to celebrate different occasions through the year and will appeal to all our customers. We've got some great ideas for what the new characters might look like and we're pleased our first one is already famous."

A local bakery in York, northeast England, experienced a similar backlash when a social media user posted an image of its "gingerbread persons" to their account. But as LGBT+-focused Pink News pointed out, the local bakery has been using the term since 1983.

Major U.K. bakery Greggs caused a Twitter storm when it launched a vegan sausage roll in January. Conservative talking head Piers Morgan blasted the product on Twitter, writing: "Nobody was waiting for a vegan bloody sausage, you PC-ravaged clowns."

The firm quipped in response: "Oh hello Piers, we've been expecting you."

As The Guardian previously noted, a media storm boosted sales of the product and bolstered the firm's profit expectations.

In the U.S., "gingerbread people" have become a lightning rod for the right-wing media. Back in December, Late Show comedian Stephen Colbert ripped into Fox News host Tucker Carlson after he criticized a cafe for offering "gingerbread people."

"The war on Christmas is a global struggle," the Fox News host had told the audience of Tucker Carlson Tonight. Pundit Tammy Bruce—who Colbert joked was a "cookie gender expert"—told Carlson the fact they were "men" was "obvious."

Mocking the exchange, Colbert showed the Late Show audience a photo of a gingerbread person with a pixelated crotch. "Obviously they're men. I mean just look at them," he quipped.

Grocery Store Makes Gender-neutral 'Gingerbread Person' and Twitter Has a Lot to Say About It | World