Black Pudding store owner Greg Bowles said in 20 years, there have only been “four or five” negative comments about the “Golliwog” dolls the Langley British import store sells. Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times

Controversial dolls “sold out” at Langley store, may not return

A customer complained about the dolls, which have been criticized as caricatures of black people.

The controversial “golliwog” dolls are off the shelves at a Langley British-imports store for now, and the owner said he’s not sure he’ll order more.

“They’re sold out,” said Greg Bowles of Black Pudding imports.

The dolls sparked a complaint from Surrey resident Taylor Walker, who told the Langley Advance Times she was startled to see the dolls for sale during a visit to the store Sunday.

Walker, whose father is black, said the imported British-made black dolls, which have eyes rimmed in white, big red lips and frizzy hair, were offensive.

Bowles and co-owner Linda Hazelton insisted the dolls weren’t racist.

READ MORE: Langley shop owners say they will keep selling controversial golliwog dolls

Following the story about the incident, which drew a great deal of comment on social media, Bowles said the store received some harassing messages, as well as a lot of support.

“They’re harassing other stores now,” Bowles said.

He said he’s not planning to re-stock the dolls at this point. The ones in the store recently were part of an order from 2015. Bowles said he wasn’t sure it made business sense to order more.

Golliwog dolls are based on a character in an 1895 children’s book called The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwogg by British author Florence Kate Upton, who described the character as “the blackest gnome.”

It was a popular children’s toy in many European countries, but in recent years has become a magnet for controversy, with critics saying the doll was based on blackface worn by white performers who crudely stereotyped black people.

According to a number of historical sources, the doll inspired the racial slur “wog.”

Because of that, Hazelton and Bowles said, the toys are now called “Golly” dolls.

The Ferris State University “Jim Crow museum of racist memorabilia” website said Golliwog dolls were the “least known of the major anti-black caricatures in the United States.”

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