Following an announcement from Quaker Oats, which said Wednesday it will rebrand Aunt Jemima due to its racist origins, companies that make Uncle Ben’s, Mrs. Butterworth’s and Cream of Wheat also announced reviews of their products’ branding.
Mars, which makes Uncle Ben’s rice, said in a statement the brand has “a responsibility to take a stand in helping to put an end to racial bias and injustices.” It said it recognize that now “is the right time to evolve the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity, which we will do.”
It added that the exact changes and timing have yet to be determined.
“Racism has no place in society,” Mars’ statement reads. “We stand in solidarity with the Black community, our Associates and our partners in the fight for social justice. We know to make the systemic change needed, it’s going to take a collective effort from all of us – individuals, communities and organizations of all sizes around the world.”
According to The Museum of Public Relations in New York City, “Uncle Ben” was a real person – he was a rice farmer from Texas whose company was bought and later named after him. The new owners asked another man, Frank Brown, to be the face of it.
“Many African Americans object to the term “Uncle” (or “Aunt”) when used in this context, as it was a southern form of address first used with older enslaved peoples, since they were denied use of courtesy titles,” according to the Museum of Public Relations.
Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup branding will also be reviewed, Congara Brands, which makes the product, said in a statement Wednesday.
“The Mrs. Butterworth’s brand, including its syrup packaging, is intended to evoke the images of a loving grandmother,” Congara said in the statement. “We stand in solidarity with our Black and Brown communities and we can see that our packaging may be interpreted in a way that is wholly inconsistent with our values. “
The company said it has “begun a complete brand and packaging review on Mrs. Butterworth’s,” adding that it is “heartbreaking and unacceptable that racism and racial injustices exist around the world.”
“We will be part of the solution. Let’s work together to progress toward change,” the statement reads.
Mrs. Butterworth’s is the second syrup brand to announce a change this week. Aunt Jemima, which has origins based on a racial stereotype, will be renamed and redesigned, Quaker Oats announced Wednesday. New packaging will begin to appear in the fourth quarter of 2020, Quaker said. The new name will be announced at a later date.
Cream of Wheat
On Wednesday, B&G foods announced it is initiating an “immediate review” of the Cream of Wheat brand packaging.
“We understand there are concerns regarding the Chef image, and we are committed to evaluating our packaging and will proactively take steps to ensure that we and our brands do not inadvertently contribute to systemic racism,” the company said in a statement. “B&G Foods unequivocally stands against prejudice and injustice of any kind.”
BY CAITLIN O’KANE