Owner Mars said it will also remove its long-time logo of an elderly white-haired black man “to create more equitable iconography”.
The Uncle Ben’s rice brand is being renamed Ben’s Original, making it the latest product to be revamped after facing criticism for racial stereotyping.
Critics have said the image along with the term “Uncle” evoke servitude and the era of slavery in the United States.
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We listened. And we learned. We understand the inequities that were associated with the name and face of the Uncle Ben’s brand and have committed to change. We will change our name to Ben’s Original™, as well as remove the image on our packaging to create more inclusive branding. This change signals our ambition to create a more inclusive future while maintaining our commitment to producing the world’s best rice. We are not just changing our name, but also taking action to enhance inclusion and equity and that comes with a new brand purpose to create opportunities that offer everyone a seat at the table. Our first actions will be to fund scholarships with National Urban League that will ensure aspiring Black culinary entrepreneurs get the educational opportunities they deserve so their ideas and voices can be appreciated by all. In addition to the new scholarship, we will invest in Greenville, Mississippi, where our brand has been produced for the U.S. market for more than 40 years, to enhance educational opportunities for more than 7,500 area students, as well as furthering access to fresh foods. Read more about our commitments to an equitable future for all at the link in bio.
The new packaging will hit stores next year, the food giant said in a press 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,” said Fiona Dawson, global president Mars Food, multisales and global customers.
Mars is the latest among several companies to recently commit to retiring or rebranding products with racial overtones, including Aunt Jemima and Eskimo Pie.
US companies have faced heightened scrutiny over such branding amid a protest movement against systemic racism and police brutality sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.