Mrs Butterworth and Cream of Wheat under ‘review’ after Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s rice announce changes amid unrest – The SunJune 18, 2020
MRS. Butterworth and Cream of Wheat packaging are both under "review" after Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben's rice announced changes amid racial unrest.
In response to rising concerns over racial stereotyping, all four companies revealed upcoming changes to their controversial packaging within 24 hours.
Conagra Brands, Inc.'s Mrs. Butterworth's brand has been criticized for the shape of its pancake syrup bottle, which has been associated with "Mammy" – the racial caricature of African American women.
In a Wednesday news release, Conagra Brands stated: "The Mrs. Butterworth's brand, including its syrup packaging, is intended to evoke the images of a loving grandmother.
"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."
Mrs. Butterworth's website describes the product, which was shaped as a women and made its television debut in 1961, as "thick, rich, and deliciously sweet."
"It's heartbreaking and unacceptable that racism and racial injustices exist around the world," the company added in their statement.
"We will be part of the solution. Let's work together to progress toward change."
Cream of Wheat has also announced an immediate review of its brand as the company has been slammed for its use of an African American chef character named Rastus.
Rastus' image was featured on Cream of Wheat cereal packages from 1893 until the 1920s.
The image was later changed to a picture of a Chef named Frank L. White and remained until now.
B&G Foods announced: "We understand there are concerns regarding the Chef image, and we are committed to evaluating our packaging and will proactively take steps to ensure that we and our brands do not inadvertently contribute to systemic racism.
"B&G Foods unequivocally stands against prejudice and injustice of any kind."
The announcements come after Aunt Jemima’s parent company, Quaker Oats, decided to get rid of the 130-year-old pancake and syrup’s name and logo.
The world's first ready pancake mix, which debuted in 1889, features an African American woman named Aunt Jemima, who was originally dressed as a minstrel show performer.
The inspiration for the logo featuring a black woman came from the minstrel song Old Aunt Jemima.
Aunt Jemima was first "brought to life" by Nancy Green, a storyteller, cook and missionary worker, according to the company's website.
Green was a black woman who had previously been a slave, according to NBC News.
Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, revealed the changes in a press release Wednesday.
"We recognize Aunt Jemima's origins are based on a racial stereotype," Kroepfl said.
"As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers' expectations."
The PepsiCo-owned Aunt Jemima brand has chosen to donate at least $5million over the next five years to "to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community."
Hours later, Uncle Ben's rice revealed it would soon "evolve" its appearance.
“We recognize that now is the right time to evolve the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity, which we will do,” food giant Mars, the parent company, said in a statement.
“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,” the statement added.
Mars explained on its website that Uncle Ben is a fictional character whose name was first used in 1946 as a reference to an African American Texan male rice farmer.
The image of the African American who has come to personify the brand “was a beloved Chicago chef and waiter named Frank Brown,” the company said.
Corporations across the United States are making changes to show their support for the African American community following the killing of George Floyd.
Floyd died of asphyxiation from sustained pressure last month after white cop Derek Chauvin was filmed kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes during an arrest.
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