This deserves a good hard LOL, because one: you’ve known this brand since the first time you brush your teeth yet not knowing this, and two: what kind of genius name his brand Darkie?
OK, a little history, and believe me, you really want to know this.
Darlie was actually named in Chinese as 黑人 (“black person”), which translates to English speaking countries as Darkie. Why, you ask?
African descent people usually appear to have exceptionally whiter teeth, because of the contrast between their skin and the teeth. Also way back then, people weren’t so sensitive when it comes to using ‘racist’ words such as nigger, negro and darkie. In fact, it was common to stumble upon brand names before 1950′s that use what common people considered today as racist such as the Nigger Hair Tobacco and Niggerhead Oysters. Brazilian nuts was once called the Nigger toes. With these in mind, it became obvious why Hawley & Hazel, the Taiwan based who manufactured Darkie named it as such.
From Darkie to Darlie
Adding to this fact, Asians are generally more insensitive when it comes to using racial slurs. How many of your parents, or you yourself still refer to Indian descent as keling? Or call African descent negro?
Anyway, cutting the story short, the brand Hawley and Hazel along with Darkie was acquired later in 1985 by Colgate-Palmolive, and its obnoxious name was later changed to Darlie. However, the Chinese name of the brand, “黑人牙膏” (in English, “Black People Toothpaste”), has not changed. This is because the term 黑人 (black man) does not have any negative meaning in Chinese.
That man with a top hat on Darkie’s original brand was based on Al Jolson who was famous for wearing blackface makeup when singing. The original logo then gradually changed into a black and white print of a man wearing a top hat, without any apparent feature that may signify the character belonging to any particular race.
Yes, this shit was popular back then. It's Al-Jonson in The Jazz...