Uncle Ben’s has always been a go-to for a quick dinner and a kitchen staple for many Americans. Now, following in the footsteps of Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s is moving away from the racial stereotype the original branding is based on, and will take on a different look in the near future.
In a press release, Uncle Ben’s officially announced that its rice brand will be evolving to help put a stop to racial bias. Here’s what we know so far.
Why the Change?
Uncle Ben’s, owned by Mars, is taking a hard look at the origins of their branding. The characterization of Uncle Ben is actually based on two real people: a black rice farmer from Texas known as Uncle Ben and Chicago chef and waiter Frank Brown, whose image was the inspiration for the Uncle Ben’s logo. “Uncle” and “Aunt” were formal names for elderly black people, typically used by white Southerners who wouldn’t acknowledge them as “Mr.” or “Mrs.,” according to the New York Times.
Mars has been listening to their black staffers and customers and felt a change in branding is the appropriate move. Mars added, “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.”
Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s aren’t the only brands making changes. Land O’ Lakes recently removed the Native American character from its product packaging.
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What Can We Expect from Uncle Ben’s?
There’s no official timeline yet. Right now, Mars and Uncle Ben’s are weighing their options and deciding on the correct route for the brand. It’s likely, though, that Uncle Ben’s will be adopting a different name and removing the racial stereotype associated with it.