Mars is going to review the brand image of its Uncle Ben's rice brand, in the context of the growing movement against racism. In the same fight, Quaker has vowed it will replace the image of its Aunt Jemima pancake mix.
"Now is the right time to evolve" the Uncle Ben's brand, parent company Mars said in a press statement, referring to current movements against racism. However, the company does not yet know exactly what will change, nor when, as the food company wants to listen to the input of consumers, the black community and partners first.
Both the name and the logo are controversial, as "Uncle" was often used in the slavery period in the United States to refer to black men, to avoid having to use "sir". The 'Uncle Ben' portrayed on the packaging is actually a reference to a Texas rice farmer from the 1940s, but his face is that of the waiter in the restaurant where the managers came up with the name. In 2007, Ben already got a first makeover: his outfit was changed into that of a businessman.
Earlier, PepsiCo subsidiary Quaker had already taken a similar step, after critics took on Aunt Jemima on social media network TikTok. The fictional "aunt" is based on a racially stereotyped character from a variety show in the nineteenth century. At the end of this year the logo will disappear, Quaker promised in a reaction.
In the meantime, other American brands with references to black domestic servants have also promised change. Earlier, among others Mr Clean (the white bald-headed man used to be a black domestic servant) and the French brand of chocolate powder Banania (displaying a black boy on the box) already changed course. Or as Mars puts it: "We know we have a responsibility to take a stand in helping to put an end to racial bias and injustices".