Uncle Ben’s is now to be known as Ben’s Original following the decision by Food giant, Mars Incorporated to change the rice brand name, which has faced criticism for racial stereotyping.
“The brand’s ambition to create a more inclusive future while maintaining its commitment to producing the world’s best rice.” Informed the change according to Mars which also said it will remove the image of the elderly Black man in a bow tie from its packaging.
“We understand the inequities that were associated with the name and face of the Uncle Ben’s brand,” the company said in a statement. “We have committed to change.”
The company in June promised the change at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement when other major brands such as Aunt Jemima acknowledged their use of racial stereotypes amid a wave of reactions from businesses and corporations following nationwide protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in May.
“We’ve listened. We’ve learned. We’re changing,” Mars said.
“We will begin production of our new brand identity immediately and Ben’s Original will begin reaching store shelves early next year.”
Mars also said it is committing to helping culinary entrepreneurs of all races obtain educational opportunities. It said it will partner with the National Urban League to help aspiring Black chefs receive scholarships.
Uncle Ben’s dates back to the 1940s. The name Uncle Ben was borrowed from a well-known Texas rice farmer of the same name, according to an archived web page about the rice brand’s origins.
The man who posed for image that has appeared on the packaging for decades was Frank Brown, the head waiter of an exclusive Chicago restaurant, the archive web page stated.