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Big League Chew takes a swing at gender equality in sports with new packaging

The classic chewing gum for baseball players made a change to honor women.
Big League Chew
Big League Chew
/ Source: TODAY

In the wake of the #MeToo movement with plenty of groups calling for change, many companies are making an effort to capitalize on the momentum.

While some big brands like Gillette took a fiercely candid stab at the issue of toxic masculinity, the most recent game-changer is approaching gender equality a bit more softly — literally.

Big League Chew, the iconic chewing gum used by baseball players, little leaguers and bubblegum lovers of all ages, just put a female softball player on packages of its Outta Here Original flavor for the first time in history. For more than 40 years, the brand could always be spotted by the caricature of a very muscular male baseball player ready to swing, slide or (let's face it) intimidate opponents with his mean mug.

The female character, according to Ford Gum (Big League Chew's parent company), was created by Amanda MacFarlane, a freelance character designer, who also happens to be the daughter of former Major League shortstop Bobby Bonner. She drew inspiration from her niece who plays softball currently.

Big League Chew
The hired artist modeled Big League Chew's new character after her softball-playing niece.Big League Chew

A company spokesperson told TODAY Food that the gum is already available online and is expected to roll out to other retailers in late spring. She also specified that the softball player sketch will not replace the male character completely but will be batting right along side him in stores.

Action Network's Senior Executive Producer Darren Rovell was one of the first people to tweet about the change to Big League Chew's packaging, calling it "a smart evolution that probably took too long."

"But it's here," he wrote.

Many others agreed that the change was coming pretty late in the game.

Some said they'd already ordered some for their team.

Some tweeters drew a parallel between this rebranding and Gillette's.

One person wrote another backlash from "triggered" men might be around the corner — referring to the #boycottgillette hashtag that happened from customers who thought Gillette went too far in making sweeping generalizations about how men act.

Unlike Gillette, which says it will be donating money to organizations that promote personal growth programs for young men, Big League Chew has not made any statements on whether its female batter is taking a swing for the sake of any female-led movement.

“Our plans to feature a softball player on the front of Big League Chew has been in the works for many years," said Steve Greene, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Ford Gum.

A company spokesperson told TODAY Food how "over the years" Big League Chew has "received letters from fans asking if they could put a girl on the pouch." Similarly, when fans requested blue raspberry gum, Big League Chew delivered. The timing to produce the new look just happened to be this month after years of design and manufacturing.

Only time will tell if the re-brand is a hit or miss.