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September 14, 2020

Westbrook chocolate maker officially moves on from 'Black Dinah' name

FILE / TIM GREENWAY Steve and Kate Shaffer changed the name of Black Dinah Chocolatiers to Ragged Coast Chocolates.
COURTESY / RAGGED COAST CHOCOLATES The new logo for Ragged Coast Chocolates, formerly Black Dinah Chocolatiers.

Three months after announcing that it would change its name after concerns were raised about the origin of its name, Black Dinah Chocolatiers is now Ragged Coast Chocolates.

The change was brought on by the recent Black Lives Matter movement and heightened concerns about the origin and interpretation of "Black Dinah." 

“We do a lot of explaining,” Kate Shaffer, a co-owner of the Westbrook company, said in a news release Monday. “No small company needs that kind of barrier. It feels both practical and meaningful to approach the end of 2020 with engagement, evolving perspectives, and hope.”

In a social media post on June 9, Shaffer said that while the company was originally named for Black Dinah Mountain on Isle au Haut, where the company was founded, it can also be a term applied to enslaved Black women. 

In a later social media post that month Shaffer wrote, “I have always imagined that if Black Dinah Mountain was named for an actual person or persons, she was strong and powerful and wise. But I’m beginning to understand that it is not my place, nor the place of my brand — perceived or actual — to use her name … for profit or to push my own unrelated agenda.”

The chocolate company, which has won awards and praise in Gourmet magazine and the New York Times' food section, moved from Isle au Haut to Westbrook in 2015, eight years after its founding. It had considered a name change even at that point, though things came to a head in fall 2019, Shaffer said in Monday's news release.

"The company had been considering a name change since their move from Isle au Haut in 2015. They were not, at any point, pressured by any person or persons to change their name. Owners Steve and Kate Shaffer have received numerous queries about the name over the years, and in the fall of 2019, decided to pursue a name change out of respect and consideration for the BIPOC community, as well as to poise the company for entrance into a larger national market," the email said. 

Its new name, Ragged Coast Chocolates, "pays homage to our hardy island roots while also celebrating Maine’s unique beauty and traditions which we work hard to reflect in our handmade chocolates," she said.

The company hired Toderico Creative, a Portland design company, to create the Ragged Coast Chocolates logo. The new logo features a strong, hand-embellished font and a unique puffin icon.

“Maine is the only state in the U.S. that has puffin nesting sites,” said Shaffer. “We feel that the icon is evocative of how the landscape and food sources in Maine uniquely influence both the look and the fun creative development of our chocolates.”

As part of the new brand launch, Ragged Coast Chocolates will partner with Friends of Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge for a fourth-quarter fundraising campaign to benefit the organization’s work to conserve island nesting sites for seabirds in Maine.

Ragged Coast Chocolates will offer a limited edition gift set which will feature a custom chocolate assortment, a campaign T-shirt and a full-color map of Maine’s seabird nesting islands. A percentage of profits from the gift set will be donated directly to Friends of Maine Coastal Islands.

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September 14, 2020
Unintentionally of course, they have made things worse for everyone. The fact that so many Mainers are so fickle, and afraid, and live their life in fear and guilt of being a particular race or color or of offending someone, it's very confusing to me. While the intentions may be good, they are a bit cowardly, harmful, and ironically, play to the stereotypes they hope to eradicate. Why not just throw open the doors of your business, lay face-down on the pavement outside, spread eagle, and surrender everything you have and have built to someone "more worthy", and be done with it? The growing guilt, cowardice and diminishing work ethic of Maine business have me second-guessing the move I and my business made here several years ago. Mainers, those not "from away," have surrendered their state and their cities to a growing hoard of newcomers who bring these twisted ethics with them. And in the end, it will be Mainers, those not "from away" who must bear the blame of what their state and their cities have become.
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