The popular rice brand formerly known as "Uncle Ben’s" will hit grocery store shelves next year under a new moniker.
Parent company Mars revealed the rebrand Wednesday and announced its new name as "Ben’s Original," according to the New York Daily News. The new logo will no longer feature the image of a Black waiter but will retain its orange and blue aesthetic.
“We listened to our associates and our customers and the time is right to make meaningful changes across society,” Fiona Dawson, global president for Mars Food, multi sales and global customers, said in a statement released to media outlets. “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 Rice changing it's name to Ben's Original Rice is some of the dumbest and most hypocritical sh1t I've ever seen. Is there anybody in the world that thinks this actually solves racism?#UncleBens pic.twitter.com/ZmOTC6d2ZN
— Price of Reason (@priceoreason) September 23, 2020
In June, parent companies for Aunt Jemima, Cream of Wheat, Uncle Ben's and Mrs. Buttersworth decided to rebrand or retire controversial logos amid national social justice protests combating institutional racism.
Marketing executive Allen Adamson, co-founder of the branding consulting firm Metaforce, credited the power of social media for making it imperative for companies to consider their social responsibilities.
"When PepsiCo made the move with Aunt Jemima based on the heightened awareness and the Black Lives Matter movement, it became untenable for the other large companies to say we're not going to do the same," Adamson told CNN Business.
Criticism around Aunt Jemina’s "mammy" logo drove company officials to ditch the branding over the summer. According to Ferris State University, a "mammy" refers to a Black woman content with her status as a slave and house servant.
Those who comments why not chef boyardee? True fact is Aunt jemima was a real “slave”. This photo they took of her headshot only, because she was “Chained” to a Table while cooking for her “slave owners”. This label is racism they made millions on her recipes. I don’t support it pic.twitter.com/kW55x5pUtl
— Cassie aka Cocoa (@CocoaFever) September 23, 2020
Since the 1940s, Uncle Ben’s rice boxes have featured a white-haired Black man, according to an archived, branded webpage. Mars has said the image was modeled after a Chicago chief waiter named Frank Brown, a depiction critics say allude to slavery. The namesake derives from a fictitious Black rice farmer from Texas supposedly renowned for his high-quality crop.
"For some, it clearly had overtones of servitude, and that is not the brand that we want to represent," Dawson told CNN Business.
The company executive said it took months of talks with employees and stakeholders to land on the rebrand and they still have some work to do before the revamped logo debuts next year.
Mars also announced that it will partner with the National Urban League and donate $2 million to a scholarship fund for emerging Black chefs. The company will also give a separate endowment of $2.5 million to educational programs and food access initiatives in Greenville, Mississippi, a Black-majority community where its products have been manufactured for nearly 40 years, according to BlackAmericaWeb.com.