Conagra is reviewing the Mrs. Butterworth’s brand following racial backlash
Mrs. Butterworth’s brand and packaging are under review as brands using images of Black characters receive increased scrutiny from the Black Lives Matter movement following the killing of George Floyd.
Conagra Brands Inc. announced the review of its Mrs. Butterworth’s brand hours after rival syrup and pancake mix brand Aunt Jemima said it was removing the imagery of a Black woman from its packaging and would change its brand name. Mrs. Butterworth's origin and race have never been specified by Conagra. But the dark coloring of the syrup in the clear bottle gives many people the idea she is meant to represent a Black woman.
Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup was introduced by Unilever in 1961 and is currently owned by Conagra. The syrup comes in a bottle shaped like a woman. The character talks and seemingly springs to life in tv spots in which she talks about the product.
“The Mrs. Butterworth's brand, including its syrup packaging, is intended to evoke the images of a loving grandmother,” Conagra said in a statement. “We stand in solidarity with our Black and Brown communities and we can see that our packaging may be interpreted in a way that is wholly inconsistent with our values.”
Conagra's statement continues: “We understand that our actions help play an important role in eliminating racial bias and as a result, we have begun a complete brand and packaging review on Mrs. Butterworth's. It's heartbreaking and unacceptable that racism and racial injustices exist around the world. We will be part of the solution. Let's work together to progress toward change.”
The Mrs. Butterworth character has appeared in a variety of campaigns over the years. In the 1970s a young Kim Fields starred in a spot talking to the bottle during a pancake breakfast. In the 1980’s, the brand used the line “behind every great breakfast is a great woman.”
Mrs. Butterworth has also starred along with other brands. In the 2000s, she appeared in a Geico commercial. In 2018, Mrs. Butterworth danced with KFC’s Colonel Sanders in a campaign for the fast-feeder's chicken and waffles. Another spot in that campaign was released for tv in 2019 and showed the two spokescharacters coming very close to sharing a kiss.