Uncle Ben’s Rice Has a New Name, New Packaging
Goodbye Uncle Ben. Hello Ben's Original.
There it is, the new name for Uncle Ben's Rice. KCEN TV reports that Mars Inc. announced the new name after it was labeled as a racial stereotype.
Global president for Mars Food, multisales and global customers, Fiona Dawson, says,
"We listened to our associates and our customers and the time is right to make meaningful changes across society. When you are making these changes, you are not going to please everyone. But it's about doing the right thing, not the easy thing."
Uncle Ben's is one of several brands that have faced criticism for it's racial stereotypes used in its branding. Aunt Jemima from the Quaker Oats brand, Eskimo Pie and the NFL Franchise Washington Redskins have also been named as brands that are using images or names that are considered racially insensitive and culturally outdated. All have agreed to change their names, with Washington deciding on "Football Team" as their interim name until they decide on a new one.
Reactions to these things are always mixed, with some celebrating these moves as progress and some scratching their heads. This is the sort of story YouTubers in particular have a field day with.
Mars Inc. also announced a few other initiatives including a partnership with the National Urban League and a $2 million investment for Black chefs and providing them with culinary scholarships. Plus, another $2.5 million towards nutritional and educational programs in Greenville, Mississippi, the home of the rice brand for over 40 years.
"Over the last several weeks, we have listened to thousands of consumers, our own Associates and other stakeholders from around the world," Dawson said in a news release. “We understand the inequities that were associated with the name and face of the previous brand, and as we announced in June, we have committed to change.”
The new Ben's Original packaging is expected to be on store shelves by 2021.
Interesting fact: The man depicted on traditional Uncle Ben packaging is not the Houston rice farmer who gave the Uncle Ben's Converted Rice Company its name. The image was actually inspired by a Chicago maitre d' named Frank Brown. You can read more about that here and here, or check out the video below.
What do you think of the name change and updated packaging?