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Whittaker's latest sweet treat faces backlash over claims of 'toxic masculinity'

Whittaker's chocolate releases usually have people running to supermarket shelves, but their latest has left some customers with a sour taste.

The new sweet treat, Coconut Ice Surprise, was made to support Plunket and is a take on baby gender reveals. The chocolate comes in two colours, blue or pink, and customers must buy the block to find out which version they've received.

However, not everyone's impressed with the company's new campaign, with some taking to Twitter to point out gender doesn't always match a person's sex, which is what gender reveals are traditionally based on.

"Gender reveal parties are weird because they presuppose two genders and also that you can determine a baby's gender by its genitals," wrote one Twitter user.

Others are accusing the company of reinforcing stereotypes - something that gender reveal parties have also been criticised for.

"Maybe in the future, you can not bring up outdated stereotypes that contribute to issues such as toxic masculinity and alienate a bunch of people in the process, such as those in the LGBTQIA+ part of our community," another user said.

Rainbow Youth executive director Frances Arns said Whittaker's decision to promote the "gender binary" contributes to the wider exclusion of the rainbow community in society.

"It's great Whittaker's is supporting Plunket, but they've built in such a harmful notion of stereotyping and the use of blue and pink excludes and ignores a load of gender identities," Ms Arns said.

The campaign is an example of how far the country still has to go, Ms Arns said, as gender reveal parties are "so outdated".

The chocolate company has responded to some of the negative feedback, taking to Twitter to explain their choice of the two colours.

"We support every colour of the rainbow. Coconut ice is usually pink but also sometimes blue, so we thought it would be fun given our Plunket partnership to use these to create a special surprise for our Chocolate Lovers," Whittaker's said.

However, Ms Arns said the campaign is clearly based on gender reveal parties and raised concerns about the campaign's effect on people who are intersex and their families.

"The campaign's very disappointing, particularly by Plunket to exclude new parents with intersex babies," she said.

While some are calling the move exclusionary, others are asking why people have a problem.

"Oh, for gods sake. Its [sic] chocolate. It's a fundraiser. Must everything be politicised?!" one Twitter user wrote.

Whittaker's said in a statement, "We just wanted to create a product that supports Plunket and is connected to the nostalgic coconut ice treat that Kiwis grew up with. Coconut ice is usually pink so that's where we started, but given Plunket's association with babies, we went for blue as our other coconut ice colour.

"We're proud the funds raised will go towards Plunket's Raise a Bundle campaign, which helps nurture Kiwis for the first 1000 days of their life. We did not intend to cause any offence with this campaign and hope Chocolate Lovers will simply enjoy the novelty of pink and blue chocolate, the experience of getting a surprise when the wrapper is opened, and the delicious flavour.

"We have had a lot of positive feedback from people who have enjoyed it for what it is."