The History of Why Darlie is Called 黑人牙膏 (Black People’s Toothpaste) is Actually Rather Controversial

Over in Singapore, we would have used Darlie at least once in our lifetime. And to many of us, especially the Chinese, we would call it 黑人牙膏, which, if translated into English, means “Black People’s Toothpaste”.

However, have you ever wondered why the English name is so different from the Chinese name?

Here’s why.

Same Company As Colgate

First of all, do you know that Darlie has the same parent company as Colgate?

Yeah, so if you’re choosing between Colgate and Darlie, you’re essentially contributing to the profits of the same company. It’s very common for companies to have different brands even in the same industry: for example, POPULAR Bookstore and UrbanWrite are under the same company, though they both sell stationary.

Of course, POPULAR Bookstore sells more than just stationary lah: they also sell tidbits #justsaying

Enough of the business talk; here’s one more interesting trivial of Darlie: if you go to their website, you’ll realise that the market they have is China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Where are the western markets?

Well, the truth is, if you think about it, the name itself is a little controversial. 黑人牙膏 literally refers to a toothpaste for black people, and this was how it used to look like.


In the past, it was called “Darkie”, and you can imagine how people reacted to it. There were concerns about the name, and therefore, in 1990, the name was changed to Darlie.

The image was also rebranded to make it less offensive, but even so, the brand hasn’t been sold in the western market.

Whether it was due to the offensive name or not, the brand won’t be sold outside of the Asian market. Despite that, it is a relatively popular brand in Asia, and according to a report before the name change, it had over 50% market share in Singapore—that’s a lot!

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Despite its name, we Singaporeans or Malaysians should know that it’s one heck of a good and affordable toothpaste, so despite its history and offensive name, we’re all pretty much still a fan of this beloved toothpaste, eh?