Black Dinah Chocolatiers is changing its name in light of recent events.
Owner Kate Shaffer said George Floyd’s murder and the recent protests pushed her to take action, and they plan to debut a new name in mid-July.
Shaffer started the company 13 years ago on the Maine Island, Isle au Haut, at the base of the Black Dinah Mountain. When they decided to name the chocolate company after that mountain, they did reach out to locals to find out the history of the name.
“We asked every old timer why the mountain was named that, and we got all sorts of crazy stories,” Shaffer said. “But at the end of it all, nobody knew why.”
About five years ago they moved to the mainland, setting up two stores and a factory.
“And we started getting confused feedback to our name, so we found ourselves doing a lot of explaining,” Shaffer said. “For the most part, once we explained the name, they were like, ‘We get it.’ But we did find that it made some people uncomfortable.”
Then, last fall they started looking into changing the company name, but the process kept getting pushed back.
“After George Floydy’s murder and all the protests it really came to the forefront and we thought, we can’t wait on this any longer,” Shaffer said. “I found that it really kept me on the sidelines with the movement that’s happening right now, and that’s not where I want to be.”
While the name doesn’t have any specifically known ties to black history, Shaffer said it’s about more than that.
“It’s not about the word black, it’s about the two words together: Black Dinah,” she explained.
Shaffer also shared the news on the company’s Facebook page.
“Black lives matter. To me, to the team here in Westbrook, and to our customers,” she wrote.
As they work through the transition, they will continue to use their current labeling, which explains the origins of the name, until they can print new packaging.
“Our hope is that while we transition to a new name as quickly as possible, you will still feel confident sending our chocolates to the people you care about,” Shaffer said.
The company’s Facebook post about the change had 49 comments and they were overwhelmingly positive.
“Thank you for addressing this and being so open and candid about it,” wrote one commenter, Katy Howe Binder. “I look forward to hearing what your new name will be. You have always stuck by your quality, even as you have grown. I have faith that you will stay true to your roots while making this change to respect and honor the roots of black lives.”
Black Dinah is a Maine-based company that uses all directly traded chocolates from South America, and all of their flavored truffles and caramels are made with whole ingredients from local farms.
Their most popular item is the Maine Farm Market Truffle collection, where each item features an ingredient grown on a Maine farm. That includes blackcurrants grown just down the road from the company.