Uncle Ben’s is changing its name to Ben’s Original and dropping the image of a Black man from its packaging in an overhaul meant to distance the rice brand from racist stereotypes while maintaining a piece of its 74-year legacy.
The Mars Food brand also announced plans “to create more equitable iconography,” but did not release a new image along with the name “Ben’s Original,” which will begin appearing on packaging in 2021. Along with its name change and decision to remove the image of a Black man from its packaging, the food marketer announced community outreach programs including a partnership with the National Urban League.
“We understand the inequities that were associated with the name and face of the previous brand, and as we announced in June, we have committed to change,” Fiona Dawson, global president or Mars Food, Multisales and Global Customers, said in a statement.
The Uncle Ben’s brand, created by Mars in 1946, was named for a Black Texan farmer known as Uncle Ben “who grew rice so well, people compared” Mars’ Converted brand rice “to his standard of excellence,” the company previously explained in an online timeline. The man whose image came to personify the brand was Chicago chef and waiter Frank Brown.