The brand has announced that it will now be known as Ben’s Original and remove its trademark logo of a Black, white-haired man that’s been dubbed a “Jim Crow era stereotype.”
Mars Food, Ben’s Original’s parent company, made the announcement noting that this is part of an effort to “create a more inclusive future while maintaining its commitment to producing the world’s best rice.” A spokesman for Mars told Yahoo Life that the decision was made with the help of consumers.
“We put considerable time and effort to develop different options that would position the brand for future success and then solicited the feedback of thousands of our consumers around the world — including many Black voices — and our associates to make sure we did what’s right,” the spokesperson explains. “Ben’s Original is what resonated most with all of these audiences.”
Mars also has more plans for inclusion including reinvesting in the deep-south town where the rice brand is made.
“In the coming months you’ll start to see us taking the first steps to live out our new purpose to create opportunities that offer everyone at a seat at the table – this will start with finalizing details with the National Urban League on a new scholarship for aspiring Black chefs,” the spokesperson shares to Yahoo Life. “In addition, in Greenville, Mississippi — where our brand has been produced in the U.S. for more than 40 years — we will invest in programming focused on enhancing educational opportunities for more than 7,500 area students, as well as furthering access to fresh foods. This will then be expanded to other underserved communities around the world.”
Prior to Ben’s Original’s name change, Aunt Jemima announced that it was removing its signature logo of a smiling, red lipstick wearing black Auntie.
“This step is in line with PepsiCo’s journey toward racial equality, and the evolution will help carry the 130-year-old brand into the future. These initiatives comprise a holistic effort for PepsiCo to walk the talk of a leading corporation and help address the need for systemic change.”
Ben’s Original brand will hit store shelves in early 2021.
Were YOU offended by Uncle Ben’s name and imagery???