Most of us have probably served boil-in-bag rice from Uncle Ben’s to chicken or Indian stew, but now these packages will soon disappear from your local store.
But, fear not, there are exactly the same products coming on the shelves, only with a new name and face.
On Wednesday 23 September, Mars Food at Uncle announced Ben’s change of name to Ben’s Original. In addition, the image of the dark-skinned man on the packages is removed.
In the press release Mars Food has sent out in connection with the change, they say that this is a step they are taking to create a more inclusive future for all people.
– In recent weeks, we have listened to thousands of consumers, our own employees and shareholders from around the world. We understand the differences associated with the name and face of the package, and follow up on the change we promised in June, says global president Fiona Dawson in Mars Food.
Decade of rice product
Uncle Ben’s came on the American market around 1940, and has been the best-selling rice product for decades, writes BBC.
However, the marketing of the brand has been criticized for having a stereotypical representation of race. Terms such as “uncle” and “aunt” were used in the southern states as a way of referring to blacks, instead of the more formal titles “lose” and “miss”.
The product name Uncle Ben’s was supposed to be inspired by a farmer in Texas who was known for growing high quality rice, and Mars Food asked the butler at a better restaurant in Chicago, named Frank Brown, to pose as the product’s face in 1947.
In continuation of the Black Lives Matter movement
Mars Food was one of several food giants that promised to renew their brands in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.
Earlier this year, Pepsi also said they would give their brand Aunt Jemima, which is used on syrup, among other things, an “overhaul” that does not produce racial stereotypes.