The test release of a new ice cream dubbed “Obamka” (Russian for “Little Obama”) in Russia’s Tatarstan Region has sparked a wave of laughter and mockery from Russian web surfers. Yet, some US officials have not been so enthusiastic.
“Next up is ‘Erdoganka’ (cream-brûlée in milk chocolate) and ‘Merkelka’ (white ice in white chocolate,” one user wrote on Russian social media, coming up with more ideas for Russia’s Slavitsa ice-cream factory, which came up with the name.
The ice cream maker’s latest product, which sparked so much ado, is an ice cream glazed with chocolate, featuring a cartoonish image of a boy with dark skin and a wide smile who is wearing an ear ring and holding an ice cream.
The -ka in “Obamka” is a diminutive suffix in the Russian language showing that the object or person represented by the word preceding it is small, so “Obamka” approximates to “Little Obama.” The form is mostly used to express affection, although sometimes it can be used as a type of scorn. The wrapper designer said he got the inspiration for the brand name from “Chunga-Changa,” a tropical island in a Soviet-era cartoon inhabited by two black children.
“We just liked the name. It’s so amusing,” Rasilya Mustafina, the factory’s development director, told a local news outlet. “There are no political undertones [in the brand]. We certainly did not want to offend anybody.”
Yet apparently they did, as reported by Reuters.
“We are disappointed by the media-driven anti-Americanism that has become so prevalent in Russia over the past few years, particularly when it takes on a discriminatory or racist bent,” an unnamed US official was cited by the news agency as saying.