Uncle Ben’s, Cream of Wheat, Mrs. Butterworth’s finally get around to reviewing their questionable brand images
Following Quaker Oats’ announcement that Aunt Jemima — a brand with a mascot originally inspired by minstrelsy and the “mammy” stereotype — will be getting a new name and logo, Uncle Ben’s, Cream of Wheat, and Mrs. Butterworth’s are similarly rethinking their mascots in the wake of a wider racial reckoning.
Uncle Ben’s rice, which uses the image of an elderly Black man (previously dressed in a bow tie evocative of servants and Pullman porters, per the New York Times) on its packaging, has been criticized for both the image and the use of “uncle” in the name, as white Southerners once used “uncle” and “boy” to refer to Black men because they refused to call them “Mr.” Mars Inc., Uncle Ben’s parent company, said that “now is the right time to evolve the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity, which we will do,” the Washington Post reports.
Cream of Wheat similarly uses an image of a smiling Black man that was formerly named Rastus — a pejorative term for Black men and a frequent character in minstrel shows — and previously depicted as barely literate. The porridge brand’s parent company B & G said that it is launching an “immediate review” of the image and the packaging, which was updated in 1925 to instead depict Chicago chef Frank L. White.
Mrs. Butterworth’s signature syrup bottle was intended to look like the image of “a loving grandmother,” per parent company ConAgra, but it has been criticized for its resemblance to the racist mammy caricature. According to the Post, the bottle’s shape was “believed to be created using as a model the black actress Thelma ‘Butterfly’ McQueen, who played Prissy in the 1939 film ‘Gone with the Wind.’” ConAgra announced that it has begun “a complete brand and packaging review” of Mrs. Butterworth’s.
And in other news…
- Days after Shake Shack did not intentionally poison three NYPD officers, a Georgia sheriff’s deputy posted a now-viral video in which she tearfully complains that she had to wait longer than usual for her breakfast order at a McDonald’s, causing her to speculate wildly that the workers may be tampering with her food. According to the local McDonald’s owners, the deputy was neither denied service nor intentionally mistreated by staff. [BuzzFeed News]
- How Popeye’s sought to recreate its iconic chicken sandwich for the Canadian market, one ingredient at a time. [Financial Post]
- There are now #cookingwithgas influencers, paid by the gas industry to extoll the virtues of gas stoves. [Mother Jones]
- Just a simple “wrap & roll” recipe, enjoy luv:
AMAZING recipe suggestion on the back of this bag of string cheese pic.twitter.com/8I6ntKyLSl— Jacqobin Magazine (@DearSplenda) June 15, 2020
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