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Cream of Wheat debuted in 1893 and initially featured a fictional character dubbed "Rastus,'' a racist term for Black men depicted as simple-minded and irresponsible that arose during the minstrel era. CONVERTED Rice officially launched as UNCLE BEN'S ® CONVERTED Brand Rice in 1947. The man whose likeness became the new face of the cereal brand wasn't identified at the time. ... That imagery became so ingrained in the way Americans saw race in the 20th century that it fit almost unnoticed into a panoply of similarly offensive marketing campaigns.". The brand attempted a makeover in 2007 when "Ben'' became a successful, modern businessman instead of a servant. If you were a woman, you did domestic work. But "we don’t want her history to be wiped away," Harris said of Richard. "The brand is not just changing its name and image on the package," it says. Despite the kerchiefed caricature on the packaging, being a brand ambassador allowed Richard to travel, as well as make a living, and brought her renown in her community. In most cases, she worked for a white family, caring for their children, cleaning their house or doing their laundry. Uncle Ben's is a brand name for parboiled rice and other related food products. During World War II, the original CONVERTED Brand Rice was supplied to the US Army. When the brand first launched, "Uncle Ben" was a prominent figure in the company's advertising. In 2007, Uncle Ben was made over as the head of the company as part of an advertising campaign that included changing his blue jacket to a business suit and a website where customers could explore his "office," the Guardian reports. We’re listening to the voices of consumers, especially in the Black community, and to our Associates worldwide. "Over the last several weeks, we have listened to thousands of consumers, our own Associates and other stakeholders from around the world," Fiona Dawson, Global President Mars Food, Multisales, and Global Customers, said in a press release. Browse our selection of rice products & fast cook meals. Uncle Ben's rice has officially changed its name and logo. It's worth noting that the brand's Instagram handle @unclebensusa and Twitter handle @UncleBens have not been changed, despite the announcement being distributed on both social media platforms. They inform how we vote, how politicians make priorities and pass laws. A post shared by Ben's Original (@unclebensusa) on Jun 17, 2020 at 4:35pm PDT. But, what exactly is the history behind "Uncle Ben," and was the controversial character based on a real person? A bit more is known about Frank L. White, a chef who was the model for the image used on boxes of Cream of Wheat. She married James Diggs in 1935, but he also died, Harris said. Read our full statement to find out more about our brand's new purpose to create opportunities that offer everyone a seat at the table: https://t.co/0tSE0lnMa1 pic.twitter.com/741JQU1qTI. Uncle Ben's® provides a healthy & nutritious variety of white, brown, basmati, & jasmine rice products. The images associated with those brands not only sold syrup, rice and cereal but perpetuated painful stereotypes that negatively shaped how African Americans and women were perceived for generations. UNCLE BEN'S ® READY CUPS were introduced to help a fast-moving world eat better in less time. Uncle Ben's. The same issue applies to Uncle Ben’s Rice, another product branded by a fictional representation of a Black man that stirs up racist stereotypes. Born in 1891, the fifth of 11 children, Richard eventually left her hometown to try to earn a better living. Green was born into slavery in Kentucky and worked as a cook and housekeeper for a judge on the south side of Chicago, Smithers said. It shaped the way people interacted with Black women, (including) exposing them to sexual violence, and informed the racism that punctuated not only pop culture, but 20th-century feminist movements, politics and social history.". "I don’t have a lot of details about his past,'' she said, "but that’s what we're hoping to gather as we go forward.’’. She also understands Quaker Oats' decision to change the name and imaging of its Aunt Jemima brand, which the company – a part of PepsiCo –  said in a statement is "based on a racial stereotype,'' despite a revamp in 1989 when the character stopped wearing a red bandanna and donned pearl earrings instead. For a young Black woman trying to make her way in the early 1900s, job options were few. Richard began promoting Aunt Jemima products, putting on demonstrations at stores, fairs and other events. Not much else is known about him, but Sherman said there is an effort to learn more. Asked whether it planned such a commemoration, Quaker said in an emailed statement that it didn't have anything to add beyond its announcement that it would change Aunt Jemima's branding. A sign proclaims Hawkins is the pancake capital of Texas and the former home of Richard who it notes portrayed Aunt Jemima. The company’s packaging has also removed the portrait of a Black man from its logo. She kind of became a little celebrity.". One of the most controversial of those campaigns was that of Aunt Jemima. ", "Symbols give shape and texture to our everyday reality," he continued. Uncle Ben's will now be known as Ben's Original. The UNCLE BEN’S ® Brand, the number one rice brand in the world, is proud to offer a wide range of rice dishes with flavours and textures that will help bring more to your meals, both for savoury main courses and convenient side dishes. "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.". Richard never had children but was married twice, first around 1912 to a man named Golden Leflore who died roughly two years later of tuberculosis. "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 said in a news release about reviewing the brand image. ", "Racism has no place in society," the original statement from Mars Food reads. 'Uncle Ben's' Rice Has Officially Changed Its Name And Logo To 'Ben's Original'. In 1911, when Lillian Richard left her hometown of Hawkins, Texas, to seek domestic work in Dallas, she found a different opportunity – offering cooking demonstrations and becoming one of the original faces of the Aunt Jemima pancake brand. And we learned. Luke Visconti, partner at Diversity Inc. Media in Newark, told the Times of the launch of the campaign, "This is an interesting idea, but for me it still has a very high cringe factor. Learn about UNCLE BEN'S® Brand rice products. The Times reports that during a meeting with a business partner in Chicago (or maybe Houston), Harwell saw a portrait of the restaurant's maitre d’hotel, Frank Brown, and decided that image could be used to sell his brand as "Uncle Ben's Converted Rice." We understand the inequities that were associated with the name and face of the Uncle Ben’s brand and have committed to change. UNCLE BEN’S® READY RICE® Our delicious flavored rice varieties are the ultimate in convenience. "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. "My aunt was a smart lady.". Conagra Brands, the maker of Mrs. Butterworth's, said the syrup bottles shaped like a matronly woman were "intended to evoke the images of a loving grandmother. Quaker Oats stated it was retiring its Aunt Jemima brand. The exhibition shows that photo for Uncle Ben's Malt Liquor featuring his smiling face with whiskers that just don't look quite right. The brand was introduced by Converted Rice Inc., which is now owned by Mars, Inc. Its headquarters are in Denver Harbor, Houston, Texas. The brand, which has been criticized for perpetuating racial stereotypes, will now be known as Ben’s Original, the company announced on Wednesday. Mrs. Butterworth is not believed to be modeled after a real person, but to some, she conveys a disturbing stereotype of a servile Black woman who is content to spend her life waiting on whites. She knew if she went there, she could find domestic work and it would pay more.". The company plans to expand to support other underserved communities around the world. Food giant Mars, Incorporated said Wednesday that it is changing the rice brand's name, which … ", The brand also wants to created a "more equitable iconography," the press release says. She was happy and proud of the work she did.”. The work will start in the United States, where Ben’s Original has partnered with the National Urban League, to help support aspiring Black chefs through a scholarship fund. Harwell launched his company in 1943 with Brown's face and the Houston rice farmer's name. Some descendants of the women who played Aunt Jemima say their stories are more complicated. She ... had feelings like we all have and just wanted to make a living at the age of 20. ), "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," the company said in a statement at the time. Around the turn of the century, White's picture was taken while he worked at a restaurant in Chicago, according to the AP. Harris contacted Quaker Oats and said she would like the company, which bought the Aunt Jemima brand in 1926, to consider creating a commemorative box that lists all the women who played the character on the back. Today, "Uncle Ben" wears a collared shirt instead. They came up with the new name while having dinner at a favorite Chicago restaurant. But behind some of those symbols or images, however distorted, were real men and women with families, ambitions and lives. The rice company Uncle Ben’s is to scrap the image of a black farmer the brand has used since the 1940s and could change its name, as companies react to … Uncle Ben's Rice Allie Fenwick "Uncle" was a pejorative term used in the 19th and early 20th centuries to describe a Black person who was subservient to White authority figures. Uncle Ben's. "They inform how we see other people, other cultures. You took care of white people's children. © 2020 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC. We will change our name to Ben’s Original™, as well as remove the image on our packaging to create more inclusive branding. An older version of the picture on the packaging shows a black man wearing a bowtie, dressed as a servant. Amid a national reckoning on racism in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other African Americans killed by police, the makers of those products are changing or reviewing their controversial branding. 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