food and beverage industry

Mars rebrands Uncle Ben’s, eliminating racial stereotype

Agence France-Presse

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Mars rebrands Uncle Ben’s, eliminating racial stereotype

SAN ANSELMO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 17: Boxes of Uncle Ben's rice are displayed on a shelf at a Safeway store in San Anselmo, California, on June 17, 2020. Quaker Oats announced that it will discontinue the 130-year-old Aunt Jemima brand and logo over concerns of the brand being based on a racial stereotype. Mars, the maker of Uncle Ben's rice is also considering a change in the rice brand. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP


Rice product Uncle Ben's will be rechristened Ben's Original and the image of an elderly Black man will no longer be used

Mars announced on Wednesday, September 23, a rebranding of Uncle Ben’s rice following long-standing criticism that it employed racist stereotypes of African Americans.

The rice product, which was marketed with the image of a grinning bowtie-clad elderly Black man, will be rechristened Ben’s Original and will drop the character “to create more equitable iconography,” Mars said.

“We are not just changing our name and the image on the package, but also taking action to enhance inclusion and equity,” the company added on its website.

Mars announced it was reviewing the product in June in the wake of racial justice protests following the killing of George Floyd. The Uncle Ben’s brand, which dates to 1946, has been criticized for employing a Jim Crow-era trope of a Black servant.

Other companies are also revamping products with offensive imagery. PepsiCo plans to change its Aunt Jemima pancake mix.

Washington’s National Football Team has dropped the name Redskins, although it has yet to pick a new moniker.

In addition to rebranding its rice product, Mars announced it was establishing a partnership with the National Urban League to support Black chefs and will invest in schools and the provision of fresh foods in Greenville, Mississippi, where Uncle Ben’s has been produced.

“These initial steps are in addition to commitments from Mars to continue to improve racial equity, from increased representation in the company’s workforce, leadership, and talent pipeline, to better utilizing spend, specifically among suppliers, to drive positive change,” Mars said. –

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