‘Uncle Ben’ Announces New Name for the 70-Year-Old Brand

George Floyd’s death did way more than inspire Black Lives Matter protests across the United States. It had a major ripple effect that is effecting names of products you might currently have in your home.

Perhaps you never thought about names like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s as racist, but many people have, especially when you look at the picture on the packaging that accompanies the name.

For example, Aunt Jemima syrup bottles show a picture of a smiling black woman. To some, she might just look happy. To others, she is perpetuating a stereotype of a black slave who was happily serving her white masters. This mammy stereotype is offensive to many, and the brand has said it will rebrand. No word yet on what the new name and image will be.

Uncle Ben’s rice is another brand that many find offensive. The picture of Uncle Ben shows a black man with white hair. In some images, he is wearing a bowtie. Some people think the image makes Uncle Ben look like a slave.

According to Mars, the parent company of Uncle Ben’s, the face used in the logo was originally inspired by Chicago maitre d’ Frank Brown.

Fiona Dawson, global president for Mars Food, multisales and global customers, said, “We listened to our associates and our customers and the time is right to make meaningful changes across society. 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 logo for the rice company has yet to be released, but they have settled on a new name, Ben’s Original. Mars did not take the decision to change the name lightly. They spent months consulting employees, customers and stakeholders to decide how to approach a name change.

Besides changing the name of their popular rice brand, Mars is also committing to help Black Americans in other ways. They are donating $2 million in scholarships to aspiring Black chefs. The company is also going to help the community where the rice is manufactured, Greenville, Mississippi, by investing $2.5 million to go towards nutrition and education programs for students.

What do you think of the name Ben’s Original? What do you think the new logo for the rice company should look like?