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Walmart’s Juneteenth ice cream leaves a bad aftertaste

Walmart finally came to its senses.

Last month, the retail giant had hell on its hands with the release of its “Celebration Edition: Juneteenth Ice Cream,” purportedly celebrating the “African-American culture, emancipation and enduring hope.”


The ill-conceived idea to commercialize America’s newest holiday fell on deaf ears, and caused an immediate social media backlash. In its aftermath, Walmart reversed course by halting sales and issuing a mea culpa regarding the red velvet-flavored ice cream with its colorful packaging.

“The commercialization of it to me just continues to bring more pain and trauma to a community that has already been marginalized,” community leader Athenia Rodney told the Daily News, adding she wasn’t shocked at all.


The day is supposed to commemorate the day on June 19, 1865, when enslaved African Americans learned of their emancipation.

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But in 2022, it turned into an ill-guided way to move merchandise, at least for Walmart, which the company acknowledged.

“Juneteenth holiday marks a celebration of freedom and independence,” a Walmart spokesperson said in a 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.”

The crass commercialism wasn’t a surprise to some.

“I laughed hard at that, because, OK, anything that becomes a holiday, anything that gets out in the public and becomes popular, somebody’s going to try to commercialize it,” actor James Monroe Iglehart told The News. I mean, last time I checked, the word Christ was in Christmas, but we don’t hear much about that. We got Santa Claus a bunch of other things. Easter’s got an Easter Bunny.”

Iglehart, who won a Tony Award for “Aladdin” and also appeared in “Hamilton,” said just because he laughed doesn’t mean Walmart’s actions weren’t offensive.

“Hell no, they shouldn’t have done that,” he said. “And they shouldn’t do it ever again. But am I surprised? Not in the slightest. I’m not surprised at all.

“The young Black folks on Twitter, they shut that down quick,” he added. “And they know that this is not a day of commercial commercialization. This is a day of remembrance of a real blood, sweat and tears day that we need to make sure that our young folks remember and revere and always keep going.”