Uncle Ben’s Rice Changes Name And Logo As Part Of Effort To Be Inclusive

(Photo by EVA HAMBACH/AFP via Getty Images)

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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The parent company of Uncle Ben’s rice announced a name and logo change for the brand in an effort to be more inclusive, a company statement said Wednesday.

Uncle Ben’s will change its name to Ben’s Original and drop its logo that critics have said is a racial stereotype. The packaging will begin appearing on store shelves in 2021, a statement from Mars says.

“Over the last several weeks, we have listened to thousands of consumers, our own Associates and other stakeholders from around the world,” said Fiona Dawson, Global President Mars Food, Multisales and Global Customers. “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.”

Mars announced in June that it would change its Uncle Ben’s brand identity after multiple other food brands, including Quaker Oats, decided to retire their logos and brand names due to their links to racial stereotyping. The changes came in the weeks following the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes in May. (RELATED: Uncle Ben’s Brand Announces Plans To ‘Evolve’ After Aunt Jemima Removal)

Quaker Oats announced it would change its Aunt Jemima pancake mix and syrup packaging in June because the “brand “origins are based on a racial stereotype.”

ConAgra, which makes Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup, also announced a full review of its brand, whose package is meant to evoke a “loving grandmother,” but the company said it “can see that our packaging may be interpreted in a way that is wholly inconsistent with our values.”

The Uncle Ben’s brand references a black farmer addressed with  honorifics used by white southerners to refer to older blacks — “uncle” and “aunt” instead of “Mr.” and “Mrs.”, according to the New York Times.

“Brands have an important role to play as we continue to navigate this moment of reconciliation regarding racial justice, diversity and inclusion,” said Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League. “We’re proud to partner with Ben’s Original™ as they evolve and embark on a new path with a new purpose, providing Black communities here and abroad with more equitable opportunities in education and business.”

Mars will also invest in the local community surrounding its Greenville, Mississippi production site, with a focus on “enhancing educational opportunities” for more than 7,500 area students, among other efforts.

“We know this is the right thing to do for our brand and business to ensure we create the truly inclusive future that everyone deserves,” Dawson adds in the statement.