Uncle Ben’s has a new name. The rice brand will now go by Ben’s Original.
Parent company Mars Inc. decided to drop their logo after some criticized it as a racial stereotype. The company unveiled the change earlier today. They also revealed that packaging with the new logo will enter stores in 2021.
“We listened to our associates and our customers. And the time is right to make meaningful changes across society,” said Fiona Dawson. Dawson is the global president for Mars Food, multi-sales and global customers. “When you are making these changes, you are not going to please everyone. But it’s about doing the right thing, not the easy thing.”
Uncle Ben’s is one of several brands changing its logos.
Mars joins several companies that have changed their brand after people criticized them for a racial stereotype. These criticisms occurred as part of the Black Lives Matters protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
For instance, Quaker Oats retired Aunt Jemima from its syrup and pancake packages. The company responded to those who criticized the mascot’s origins. They said Jemima was based on the “mammy” arch-type, a black slave content to serve her masters. The company said packages minus Jemima’s image will enter stores by the end of the year.
Eskimo Pie will also change its name and marketing. Geechie Boy Mill, a South Carolina grits company, will follow suit with a title change. In the sports realm, Washington Football Team dropped Redskins from its title and the Native American imagery.
Mars Inc. said they planned to “evolve” the Uncle Ben’s brand. Since the mid-1900s, the rice boxes featured a white-haired black man. Critics said the imagery evoked servitude. According to Mars, the company modeled Uncle Ben after a maitre d’ named Frank Brown.
After months of discussion within the company, they decided upon Ben’s Original. In addition, Mars also pledged $2 million, in partnership with the National Urban League, for culinary scholarships for aspiring black chefs. They plan to invest $2.5 million in nutritional and education programs for students in Greenville, Mississippi. Greenville is a majority black city. The rice brand has produced its product there for more than 40 years.
The company also plans to increase the number of racial minorities in management positions by 40%
[H/T: AP News]