Mars Inc. has confirmed it will change the name of Uncle Ben’s rice brand following complaints of racial stereotyping.
The brand will now be known as ‘Ben’s Original’.
The change will also see the brand remove the image of a smiling, grey-haired black man from its packaging.
“We listened to our associates and our customers and the time is right to make meaningful changes across society,” said Mars Food global president for multisales and global customers Fiona Dawson.
“When you are making these changes, you are not going to please everyone. But it’s about doing the right thing, not the easy thing.”
The new packaging is expected to be rolled out in 2021.
‘Aunt’ and ‘uncle’ were traditionally used in Southern USA to refer to black people, as opposed to ‘miss’ or ‘mister’.
These connotations have led to widespread condemnation of the Uncle Ben’s name, particularly in light of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Uncle Ben’s is not the first brand to undergo a rename following the movement.
Quaker food also announced it would be removing the ‘Aunt Jemima’ pancake and syrup name, while the Washington Redskins football team is now simply known as the Washington Football Team.
In Australia, Nestlé recently announced it was renaming its ‘Redskin’ and ‘Chicos’ products, while Kellog’s has been accused of racism for promoting Coco Pops with a monkey.
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