Following protests for racial justice around the world earlier this year, companies have begun taking a look at their branding, including their names and logos. Rice brand Uncle Ben’s announced they would be changing their name and packaging in June but didn’t say what changes they’d make, exactly.
Now, the brand has announced it will be known as Ben’s Original, and the company will also be removing the image on the packaging beginning in 2021.
Ben’s Original’s former logo, which first appeared in ads in 1946, featured various illustrations of a Black man over the years since it was first created. According to the brand’s website, the Uncle Ben’s name was decided upon by Gordon Harwell, creator of Converted Brand Rice, and a partner as a way to market the product to customers at a Chicago restaurant.
We listened. And we learned. Moving forward, Uncle Ben's will be known as Ben’s Original™. 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
— Ben's Original USA (@BensOriginal) September 23, 2020
In addition to the name change, Mars Food, which owns the brand, announced it would be investing in the community of Greenville, Mississippi, where Ben’s Original has been produced in the U.S. for more than 40 years. The programming will focus on “enhancing educational opportunities for more than 7,500 area students,” Mars said in a press release, as well as creating easier access to fresh foods.
The brand has forged a partnership with National Urban League to support aspiring Black chefs through a scholarship fund and will eventually be expanding to support other underserved communities around the world.
“Over the last several weeks, we have listened to thousands of consumers, our own associates and other stakeholders from around the world,” Mars’ Fiona Dawson said in a press release in September. “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.”
Ben’s Original is not the only company planning to change its name soon. Breakfast brand Aunt Jemima also announced this summer that it would change its name and logo to no longer be based on a racial stereotype, and Cream of Wheat is removing the image of a smiling Black chef, which has been on their products since 1901, from their packaging.