The firm will change the name of its “Zigeuner Sauce” or “gypsy sauce” to “Paprika Sauce Hungarian Style,” the German weekly Bild am Sonntag has reported.
The spicy sauce, a staple in many German households, will within a few weeks show up with the new name in supermarkets across the country, the newspaper said.
It is good that Knorr reacts to the complaints of apparently a lot of people
“Since ‘gypsy sauce’ can be interpreted in a negative way, we have decided to give our Knorr sauce a new name,” the company’s owner Unilever said.
Civil rights groups have for years called for the renaming of the brand but in 2013 the company rejected the demand, German news agency dpa reported.
The renaming follows recent international debates over racism, especially in the US, where big national companies have also renamed traditional brands in response to concerns about racial stereotyping.
“Zigeuner” is a derogatory German expression for the Roma and Sinti minority groups who have lived in many European countries for centuries.
The term “Zigeunersauce” has been used in Germany for more than 100 years to describe a hot sauce based on tomatoes with small-chopped pieces of bell pepper, onions, vinegar and spices like paprika.
A popular dish with the sauce that is often served in traditional German restaurants is called “Zigeunerschnitzel” despite much criticism.
Roma and Sinti organisations in Germany have long pointed out the sauce is not even part of their traditional cuisine and they have also demanded for years that the name be abolished.
The head of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma welcomed Knorr’s decision to no longer use the term.
“It is good that Knorr reacts to the complaints of apparently a lot of people,” Romani Rose told Bild am Sonntag.
He added more than the discriminating nature of the sauce’s name, he was worried by the increasing racism against minorities in Germany.
Mr Rose noted how some football fans in Germany chant the words “Zigeuner” or “Jude” – Jew – to insult players or fans of opposing teams during matches.