WASHINGTON — After facing widespread criticism online, Walmart is pulling a Great Value brand ice cream flavor commemorating Juneteenth.
After photos of the ice cream, along with Juneteenth koozies, were posted online many social media users voiced their frustration about the corporation appearing to capitalize on the holiday and its history for profit.
“Share and celebrate African-American culture, emancipation and enduring hope,” the packaging read on the red velvet and cheesecake flavored ice cream.
Juneteenth -- which President Joe Biden signed as an official federal holiday last year -- commemorates June 19, 1865: the day Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce the freedom of Black slaves, more than two years after Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Critics on social media questioned whether the profits from these products would help Black-owned businesses, and many suggested customers should purchase alternative Black-owned products. Some noted that Creamalicious, a Black-owned ice cream brand, also sold a red velvet cheesecake flavor.
Others also pointed out that the ice cream's manufacturer was claiming a right to trademark "Juneteenth," but photos of the ice cream show the label does not yet have the "R" symbol meaning it has not been officially registered by the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office.
Comedian Roy Wood Jr. was one social media user who called out Walmart's business strategy, tweeting: "Would you like some Juneteenth Ice cream on a Juneteenth plate as you sip your beer in a Juneteenth Koozie?"
Walmart has since apologized for releasing the products saying in a statement they would start removing them "as appropriate."
"Juneteenth holiday marks a celebration of freedom and independence," the company said in its statement. "However, we received feedback that a few items caused concern for some of our customers and we sincerely apologize. We are reviewing our assortment and will remove items as appropriate."