“Uncle Ben’s” is going to be rebranded as “Ben’s Original” and its logo of a black man wearing a bowtie dropped, Mars Inc. announced on Wednesday.
Said Mars Inc in a statement: “The company has also committed to removing the image on the packaging to create more equitable iconography. The brand is not just changing its name and image on the package. It is also taking action to enhance inclusion and equity and setting out its new brand purpose to create opportunities that offer everyone a seat at the table. Ben’s Original™ community outreach programs will ensure underserved communities have access to the nutritious meals we all deserve, as well as help culinary entrepreneurs of all colors get educational opportunities so their ideas and voices can be appreciated by all. This work will begin in the U.S. where the brand has forged a partnership with National Urban League to support aspiring Black chefs through a scholarship fund, before expanding to support other underserved communities around the world.
“In addition, in Greenville, Mississippi – where the Ben’s Original™ has been produced in the U.S. for more than 40 years – Mars Food will invest in the local community to address issues that have plagued this region of the U.S. for generations,” the company added. “This programming will focus on enhancing educational opportunities for more than 7,500 area students, as well as furthering access to fresh foods.”
CNN Business reports: “Mars’ rice brand was named in the 1940s for ‘Uncle Ben,’ a possibly fictitious Black rice farmer from Texas supposedly renowned for his high-quality crop. It featured the face of Frank Brown, head waiter at an exclusive Chicago restaurant who posed for the Uncle Ben’s portrait, according to an archived page from Uncle Ben’s website. The company said it didn’t know if there was an actual Uncle Ben. ‘For some, it clearly had overtones of servitude, and that is not the brand that we want to represent,’ Fiona Dawson, global president of Mars Food, told CNN Business.Mars decided to rebrand the products after hearing from consumers and employees who requested the change, she said.”