Uncle Ben’s Rice officially changes name to Ben’s Original

Uncle Ben's Rice will also be partnering with the National Urban League to create scholarships that support aspiring Black chefs

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Lately there has been a push for brands to be more inclusive, and it appears that Uncle Ben’s Rice is keeping up with the times by changing the name of the product to Ben’s Original.

According to CNN, updated Uncle Ben’s products will feature the same blue font and orange packaging and hit shelves in 2021without the now infamous logo depicting a Black Chicago head waiter. The company shared their intention in statement on Wednesday.

“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,” the statement read.

Mars has also committed to partnering with the National Urban League to donate $2 million to a scholarship fund for aspiring Black chefs and will donate another $2.5 million to “educational programs and food access efforts within the community of Greenville, Mississippi, where its products have been manufactured for four decades,” the statement continued.

The brand said these initiatives was just the beginning.

“These initial steps are in addition to commitments from Mars, Incorporated to continue to improve racial equity throughout our business, from increased representation in our workforce, leadership and talent pipeline, to better utilizing our spend, specifically among our suppliers, to drive positive change,” the statement added.

Back in June – following the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd – the food companies that make Uncle Ben’s, Aunt Jemima, Cream of Wheat and Mrs. Butterworth’s all made a vow to retire their archaic branding that seemingly uses Black bodies as mascots of servitude.

Uncle Ben's Ben's Originals thegrio.com
(Credit: Mars Food)

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According to an archived page from Uncle Ben’s website, in the 1940s Mars’ rice brand was named “Uncle Ben,” after a Black rice farmer from Texas who was known for his high-quality crop. Frank Brown, a head waiter at an exclusive Chicago restaurant, later posed for the Uncle Ben’s portrait which has been seen on boxes of rice products for generations since.

The company conceded that they aren’t clear if there ever really was an Uncle Ben or if that was just a fictitious story created to sell products and opted to rebrand themselves at the request of both consumers and even some of their own employees.

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“For some, it clearly had overtones of servitude, and that is not the brand that we want to represent,” Fiona Dawson, global president of Mars Food, told CNN Business. “There’s no place for anything in this world that hints at social injustice.”

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