NEW ORLEANS — Dixie Brewery General Manager Jim Birch wants to set the record straight about why the name of his beer is changing.
“This is really a retirement of a brand,” Birch said. “This isn’t us trying to rewrite history or trying to tell a different story.”
Birch admits since owner Gayle Benson announced plans to re-brand the beer on Friday, he’s received threatening emails and angry phone messages from people who disagree with the change.
He says he’s also gotten feedback from people who support the idea.
“It’s probably one of the most difficult decisions that we’ve had to make because we knew people would be frustrated,” Birch said. “We know there’s a tremendous amount of heritage and great memories associated with the brand.”
There are several different theories about the origin of the nickname “Dixie.”
It’s been traced back to the Mason-Dixon line that once divided North from South.
Another theory is that it came from $10 bills printed in New Orleans in the 1800s that were branded with "Dix," French for "ten," and known as "dixies."
Some don’t like the word because it’s also been used to describe the old south during a time of slavery and the Confederacy.
The decision to rename Dixie Beer comes as many people across the country are now calling for the removal of symbols associated with racist figures.
“When people want to hear Dixieland jazz, do you now say we want to call it something else, said New Orleans historian and author Charles Marsala.
Marsala said getting rid of words like “dixie” is a slippery slope.
“Now we have to say how far down the slope have we gone with renaming a lot of items that are now at risk and when we do that how much are we going to lose of our heritage, Marsala said. “At the same time, I appreciate what Mrs. Benson is doing. She’s a wonderful lady.”
Dixie Beer’s GM says renaming the brand positions the brewery to be around in New Orleans another 113 years.
“What we’re making here is New Orleans in a bottle,” Birch said. “That’s what we’ve been saying about Dixie and it’s what we’re going to be doing in the future.”
Birch said the new name will be inclusive while also reflecting the history of our region. He added that it will likely take 6-12 months to re-brand the beer. But, he’s hoping that product will be available for sale by Mardi Gras 2021.
Dixie Brewery wants to hear your ideas for the beer’s new name.
You can contact the brewery at firstname.lastname@example.org