Mars Food is changing the name of its Uncle Ben’s rice products to Ben’s Original, after widespread anti-racism protests renewed the focus on companies that for decades used racial images to sell their products.
The company said on Wednesday that it would also remove the image of an older Black man smiling from the box.
Mars committed to making changes to its branding in June, amid protests around the United States. The parent companies of Aunt Jemima, Cream of Wheat and Mrs. Butterworth’s also said at the time that they would retire or rebrand their products.
“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,” said Fiona Dawson, global president of multisales and global customers for Mars Food.
This isn’t the first time that the brand has responded to such criticism. In 2007, Uncle Ben, whose face has appeared on the box of rice since the 1940s, was promoted from a servant to chairman in a marketing campaign.
The revamped packaging will hit store shelves in 2021.