What’s the absolutely worst, most repulsive brand name you could possibly think of? Well, an ice cream cone manufacturer named M. V. F. Products in India already thought of it. “Indian ice cream lovers are putting their favorite treat in a cone named after Adolf Hitler,” the Times of Israel reported May 29, 2005. “The boxes of Hitler ice cream cones bear the unsmiling image of the Nazi leader dressed in a military uniform. The cones are available throughout India”. Some of the Hitler Ice Cream Cone boxes feature a realistic illustration of Adolf in his brown Nazi uniform glaring at the brand’s logotype. Others, bizarrely, show him in a cartoony illustration sporting a dinner jacket and red bowtie, tipping a striped, Uncle Sam-type top hat with a swastika on the crown. “Even for the most dedicated of ice cream lovers this sweet treat may prove a little hard to swallow,” The Daily Mail wrote.
The UK newspaper goes on to offer ignorance as a possible excuse. “A lack of Holocaust education in India means that people on the sub-continent know little about the Nazi leader,” they explained. But India’s own history shows how lame an excuse that is.
Mohandas Ghandi, the George Washington of India, certainly knew about and publicly commented on the Holocaust. “Hitler killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time,” he said. “But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs. It would have aroused the world and the people of Germany…As it is they succumbed anyway.”
The Hitler Ice Cream Cone brand name has provoked howls of outrage – but not from India. The German newspaper Bild, for example, called the brand “a macabre publicity stunt.” Many Twitter users called it “tasteless!” But according to one Berliner, it goes beyond tastelessness. “There is taste and there is tastelessness,” he said. “The people of India should be made aware of the terrible crimes committed by him [Hitler].”
Tasteless or worse as it is, the Hitler brand name is, for some reason, popular throughout India. In 2012, after hundreds of complaints from Jews and non-Jews alike, municipal government officials in the Indian state of Gujarat forced a men’s clothing store named Hitler to take down its sign, which featured a cute little swastika as the dot over the “i”.
And in 2011, India’s Zee TV introduced a daily network soap opera called “Hitler Didi” that ran not only nationally but also on the network’s affiliates in other countries, including the US. Among those complaining about the title was the Anti-Defamation League, which wrote urging the production company’s CEO, chairman and managing editor to “preserve the name ‘Hitler’ as a villain of incomparable evil and not trivialize his legacy or the Holocaust with a serial TV title.”
The show’s title translates from the Hindi as “Aunt Hitler.” That was the nickname of its lead character, who was “a young woman known in her locality as a strict disciplinarian who takes a no-nonsense attitude with her family.” Well, at least she didn’t send the kids to the gas chamber for being hyper.