Uncle Ben’s rice brand gets a new name: Ben’s Original.
The parent company Mars Inc. announced the change on Wednesday for the 70-year-old brand, the latest company to release a logo that was criticized as a racial stereotype. Packaging with the new name will arrive in stores next year.
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“We listened to our employees and our customers and it̵
Several companies have withdrawn racial images from their brand in recent months, a ripple effect of Black Lives Matter’s protests over the killing of police on George Floyd and other African Americans.
Quaker Oats announced in June that it would drop Aunt Jemima from syrup and pancake packages, and responded to criticism that the character’s origins were based on “mammy”, a black woman content to serve her white masters. Quaker said packages without the Aunt Jemima image will begin appearing in stores by the end of the year, although the company has not revealed the new logo.
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The owner of Eskimo Pie has also said that it will change the name and marketing of the nearly hundred-year-old chocolate-covered ice cream bar. In addition to food brands, the Washington NFL franchise lost the name “Redskins” and the Indian head logo under pressure from sponsors including FedEx, Nike, Pepsi and Bank of America.
Geechie Boy Mill, a family-owned South Carolina business that produces locally grown and ground white grains, is also planning a name change. Geechie is a dialect spoken primarily by descendants of African-American slaves who settled on the Ogeechee River in Georgia, according to Merriam-Webster.com.
“We are changing names and have developed a completely new brand. We look forward to sharing it with the public, says Greg Johnsman, owner of Geechie Boy Mill.
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Mars announced during the summer that Uncle Ben’s brand would be “developed”.
Since the 1940s, the rice boxes have featured a white-haired black man, sometimes with a bow tie, according to an image critic who evokes slavery. Mars has said that the face was originally modeled after a Chicago maitre named Frank Brown. In a short-term marketing campaign in 2007, the company raised Uncle Ben to become chairman of a rice company.
Dawson said months of talks with employees, customer studies and other stakeholders led to the company reaching “Ben’s Original.” She said the company is still deciding on an image to accompany the new name.
March also announced several other initiatives, including a $ 2 million investment in culinary scholarships for aspiring black chefs in partnership with the National Urban League. It also plans to invest $ 2.5 million in nutrition and education programs for students in Greenville, Mississippi, the majority African city where the rice brand has been produced for more than 40 years.
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Mars said it has set a goal to increase racial minorities in US leadership positions from 20% to 40%. The company did not provide a time frame to reach that number.