The parent company of Uncle Ben’s rice announced their plan to change the rice maker’s “brand identity” in response to criticism that its logo and name promote racial stereotypes.
Mars, Inc. said in a release Wednesday, “we know we have a responsibility to take a stand in helping to put an end to racial bias and injustices.”
“Racism has no place in society. We stand in solidarity with the Black community, our Associates and our partners in the fight for social justice,” they said.
“We know to make the systemic change needed, it’s going to take a collective effort from all of us — individuals, communities and organizations of all sizes around the world.”
“We don’t yet know what the exact changes and timing will be, but we are evaluating all possibilities,” Mars added.
The announcement comes after weeks of protests calling for the end of systemic racism, which brought renewed awareness of pervasive racial stereotypes.
According to Ms. Kern Foxworth’s book and other reference materials, a Houston rice farmer named Ben was renowned for the quality of his crops.
During World War II, a Texas food broker named Gordon L. Harwell supplied a special kind of white rice to the armed forces under the brand name Converted Rice.
In 1946, Mr. Harwell had a dinner with who was thought to be his business partner, and decided to rename his brand to Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice and the maitre d’hotel of the restaurant, Frank Brown, could model to represent the brand.
Despite the fact that Ben is not involved to the creation of the Uncle Ben brand, the company made Uncle Ben the head of the company and changed his blue jacket to a business suit as part of an advertising campaign in 2007.
Luke Visconti, partner at Diversity Inc. Media that launched the campaign said in an interview, “This is an interesting idea, but for me it still has a very high cringe factor.”