Xenophobic Propaganda: The History and Impact of the "Chop Suey" Font

Contributor III

There is no secret that the United States was a host for xenophobia during World War II; xenophobic propaganda typically consisted of overdramatized Asian caricatures paired with a "Chop-Suey" font. With its exaggeratedly slanted letters and jagged edges, the United States government often paired with caricatures of Asian people that perpetuated stereotypes and fueled fear and hatred.


The name "Chop Suey" is undoubtedly offensive in and of itself, as it refers to a popular Chinese-American dish that was forced to be heavily adapted and white-washed to fit American tastes.


This font was and continues to be a deliberate choice to create a visual shorthand for Asian people, reducing them to a collection of over-the-top physical features and cultural signifiers.


Unfortunately, the legacy of the Chop Suey font extends beyond World War II propaganda. Fast-food restaurant signage and "retro-themed" graphic design have displayed this font as a trendy and nostalgic throwback in other contexts.


While this font lies on the restaurants we frequent and the clothes we see, it is essential that we remember the harm that this font has caused and that we must reject any attempt to normalize or excuse its use.

As we reflect on racist behaviors that we see in our everyday lives, we must be aware of the power that language, imagery, and typography can have in perpetuating harmful stereotypes and stoking fear and hatred. By rejecting the Chop Suey font and other forms of racist language and imagery, we can work towards a more inclusive and just society.