Cream of Wheat is finally reviewing its offensive packaging, which has featured a black chef named “Rastus” since the 1890s.
The announcement by Cream of Wheat’s parent company, B&G Foods, comes after other brands including Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s and Mrs. Butterworth’s overhauled their branding in response to the racial justice protests sparked by George Floyd’s murder.
“We understand there are concerns regarding the Chef image, and we are committed to evaluating our packaging and will proactively take steps to ensure that we and our brands do not inadvertently contribute to systemic racism,” B&G Foods said in a statement. “B&G Foods unequivocally stands against prejudice and injustice of any kind.”
Rolling Stone reports: The breakfast food — first manufactured in 1893 — has long been criticized for its use of Rastus, a smiling African-American chef whose name has been shorthand for a derogatory slur against African-American men and whose visage has been criticized for being stereotypically subservient. The character of Rastus has appeared in numerous minstrel shows dating back to the 1800s. Rastus was removed from the packaging in 1925, but the company replaced it with a similar image that remains today. Calls to remove the character altogether have grown louder as brands have reconsidered their packaging and marketing in recent weeks.
More from USA Today: Quaker Oats was the first to announce Wednesday that it would retire Aunt Jemima from packaging on its brand of syrup and pancake mixes because it’s “based on a racial stereotype.” Hours later, Mars, the owner of Uncle Ben’s, rice announced it “is the right time to evolve the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity.” Conagra Brands announced it has “begun a complete brand and packaging review on Mrs. Butterworth’s.” The shape of the brand’s syrup bottles with the offensive “Mammy” racial caricature of stereotype for Black women.