Germans Annoyed at 'Kraut' Reference in Mailer

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A direct-mail piece from a German firm to British consumers offended some Germans living in the United Kingdom because of its use of the word "kraut," a slang term for German people that dates to World War I, according to a Reuters report.

The mailer, a leaflet distributed by German manufacturer DRONCO Abrasives to market sanding discs, depicted a German soccer player with the slogan, "The krauts are coming -- with unbeatable quality." DRONCO Abrasives dropped the leaflet to coincide with an England-Germany soccer match in September, which England won 5-1.

"Kraut" refers to sauerkraut, chopped pickled cabbage that is a popular condiment on hot dogs in the United States. WWI-era Britons used the term to ridicule Germans, who were believed to eat much of it.

DRONCO Abrasives issued a statement saying the company thought the term was a humorous reference lacking in negative implications, referring simply to German people's fondness for sauerkraut, according to Reuters. But a spokesman for the German Embassy in the United Kingdom complained, telling London's Daily Mail newspaper that, "If you were called cabbage, you would not like it. It is the same for us."

The Advertising Standards Authority, the United Kingdom's government watchdog agency for advertisers and direct marketers, issued a statement Wednesday addressing the concerns of those offended by the leaflet. The agency said the mailer was "a light-hearted reference to a national stereotype unlikely to cause serious or widespread offense."

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