Walgreens Pulls Swastika Wrapping Paper

Photo: Courtesy of NBC News.
Walgreens is pulling rolls of Hanukkah wrapping paper off their shelves this week, after shoppers noticed swastikas embedded in the design. Northridge, CA resident Cheryl Shapiro picked up the paper while shopping with her grandson last weekend and, naturally, was alarmed to find the Nazi emblem displayed on gift wrap marketed toward Hanukkah shoppers. Or, any shoppers.
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"I couldn't believe my eyes," she told NBC. "I had no idea what to do." Shapiro first called her rabbi, then the store manager, then the news. Walgreens spokesman Phil Caruso said simply, "We're in the process of removing the product from our stores."
To give Walgreens the (very generous) benefit of the doubt, the swastika is hard to spot at first look, within the larger design. But, one would hope that stockists might give more than a passing glance at the products on their shelves.
Same goes for the manufacturer. Hallmark, in this case, produced the wrapping paper, and released a statement on Tuesday. "We apologize for the oversight and apologize to anyone who was offended. That obviously was not our intent," said spokeswoman Julie Elliott. She explained that the pattern was based on the design of an old Chinese vase. Before the Nazis co-opted the symbol, it was used in many cultures as a sign of good fortune.
But, historical relevancy aside, most shoppers probably associate swastikas with genocide, not good luck. It's an odd oversight we've seen with other brands in recent years. In 2007, Zara pulled a handbag printed with flowers, bicycles, and bright green swastikas. Last month, Sears apologized for letting a "punk rock" swastika ring wind up on their Amazon marketplace page.
Let this be a lesson to quality control managers everywhere: No one's buying it.
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Happy holidays!
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