Tragic MooLatte Revisited
The Houston Press quizzes Dairy Queen.
The Houston Press, an alternative weekly in the New Times chain, agrees that the name of Dairy Queen's new frozen drink, the MooLatte, sounds so much like "mulatto" as to call into question the mental competence of Dairy Queen's corporate leadership. (See "The Tragic MooLatte," July 14.) That the Minneapolis-based company would deliberately allude to the hoary stock character of the "tragic mulatto" in naming a drink of light brown hue is too ghastly a possibility to consider. But could DQ really be so dim as not to notice the similarities between "MooLatte" and "mulatto"? Houston Press staff writers Richard Connelly and Craig Malisow have laid out compelling evidence that it is.
Malisow, working under Connelly's close direction, placed a call to Dairy Queen spokesman Chad Durasa, whose name appeared on an Aug. 3 press release inviting residents of the Lone Star State to "bring your favorite cow" to Dairy Queen on Aug. 24 to receive a free MooLatte. Malisow's ensuing Ali G-style interview, as related in the Aug. 12 Houston Press, was so extraordinary that I felt compelled to ask both Connelly and Malisow whether any of it was made up. They assured me it was genuine. Here it is:
Q: This drink, it's not the "Mulatto"?
A: No. No. No. "Moo," meaning cow, and then "latte," meaning—
Q: OK. We were thinking of some other possible items, and I just wanted to run them by you. How about the High Yellow Butterscotch Sundae?
A: I'm not sure if I understand what that is.
Q: Just like a sundae with butterscotch topping, but this would be High Yellow butterscotch.
A: You mean like a higher quality?
Q: Yeah. That's just something to consider. We were also thinking—the MooLatte has three separate flavors, but if you took eight flavors and combined them, you could call it the Octoroonie.
A: Actually—wow, that's actually a pretty good idea.
Q: And then one more here … Sambo's Extra Dark Triple Chocolate Shake. How's that grab you?
A: Actually, Dairy Queen doesn't make shakes. They make Blizzards.
Q: OK—Sambo's Extra Dark Triple Chocolate Blizzard.
A: What would that be?
Q: I would say you would find the blackest cone you could find and fill it with chocolate ice cream. And go from there.
A: All right. Interesting.
Q: Well, it's just something to think about.
It's possible that Dairy Queen has belatedly figured out that MooLatte is a name likely to cause racial offense and has decided that its best public-relations strategy is to play dumb whenever it gets razzed about it. But Durasa's cluelessness seems genuine to me.
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.