Aunt Jemima led the way and other brands are stepping up and getting rid of racist packaging
Following yesterday's news that the 'Aunt Jemima' breakfast brand will be no more, after gracing our tables since the pancake mix made is debut in 1889, several other brands have followed suit.
Mars announced a few hours later that the Uncle Ben’s brand would be evolving too. In a statement , Mars explained that "as a global brand, we know we have a responsibility to take a stand in helping to put an end to racial bias and injustices. As we listen to the voices of consumers, especially in the Black community, and to the voices of our Associates worldwide, we recognize that now is the right time to evolve the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity, which we will do.
Uncle Ben's rice was first marketed in 1943 and was the top-selling rice in the United States from 1950 until the 1990s. Marketing for Uncle Ben's has always carried the image of an older African-American man dressed in a bow tie. According to their website , Gordon Harwell, one of their founders was dining in his favorite Chicago restaurant with his partner. The discussion was around how they were going to market their new product and they began to discuss the legendary Texan farmer, Uncle Ben who was known for his exceptionally high-quality rice. The decision was made and Uncle Ben’s Converted Brand Rice was born. The face appearing on all Uncle Ben’s packaging is that of Frank Brown, a maitre d'hotel (head waiter) at the exclusive Chicago restaurant where they were dining and agreed to pose for the Uncle Ben’s portrait.
, "We don’t yet know what the exact changes or timing will be, but we are evaluating all possibilities."
"Racism has no place in society. We stand in solidarity with the Black community, our Associates, and our partners in the fight for social justice. We know to make the systemic change needed, it’s going to take a collective effort from all of us – individuals, communities, and organizations of all sizes around the world."
The Mrs. Butterworth's brand, including its syrup packaging, is intended to evoke the images of a loving grandmother" said Conagra in a statement made the afternoon of June 17, 2020. "We stand in solidarity with our Black and Brown communities and we can see that our packaging may be interpreted in a way that is wholly inconsistent with our values."
Mrs. Butterworth syrup comes in distinctive bottles shaped in the form of a matronly woman. It was introduced in 1961.
Conagra continues saying that "We understand that our actions help play an important role in eliminating racial bias and as a result, we have begun a complete brand and packaging review on Mrs. Butterworth's."
It's heartbreaking and unacceptable that racism and racial injustices exist around the world. We will be part of the solution. Let's work together to progress toward change.
B&G Foods, Inc, made the announcement on June 17 that they too would initiate an immediate review of their brand packaging.
Cream of Wheat made its debut at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. Their marketing features the image of an African American chef that they named Rastus. "Rastus" has been used as a generic, often derogatory, name for black men at least since 1880. The name originates in the first Uncle Remus book, Joel Chandler Harris named a black deacon 'Brer Remus'. The name Rastus was often used in minstrel shows as a stereotypically happy black man. The Remus character first appeared on packages of Cream of Wheat cereal in 1893 and remained the trademark until the 1920s, when it was replaced by a photograph of Frank L. White, a Chicago chef in chef's hat and jacket. His face has been featured on the box with only slight modifications until the present day.
In a statement , they write: "We understand there are concerns regarding the Chef image, and we are committed to evaluating our packaging and will proactively take steps to ensure that we and our brands do not inadvertently contribute to systemic racism. B&G Foods unequivocally stands against prejudice and injustice of any kind."