American staple brands Aunt Jemima syrup and pancake mix and Uncle Ben's rice have announced that they're changing their branding as their parent companies feel the images are based on racial stereotypes, according to ABC News.
Quaker Foods of North America, the company that owns the Aunt Jemima announced that they were going to re-brand, just hours before Mars Inc. made a similar re-branding announcement about Uncle Ben's rice."We know we have a responsibility to take a stand in helping to put an end to racial bias and injustices," Mars Inc. said in a press release explaining the change iin branding on Wednesday. “We know to make the systemic change needed, it’s going to take a collective effort from all of us — individuals, communities and organizations of all sizes around the world."
The box of Uncle Ben's rice features the face of a black man, which was originally modeled after a Frank Brown, a waiter at a restaurant in Chicago where one of the company's founders Gordon Harwell had the idea for the brand, according to the brand's website.
The name "Unlce Ben's" began being used in the 1940's after Harwell and his co-founder Erich Huzenlaub discussed a "legendary" Texas farmer, known for his exceptionally high quality in rice.
The reference to the name "uncle" has become a large component in the racial criticism that the brand has garnered, as it was common during the Jim Crow era for a white man to call a black man "uncle" or even "boy" despite their age.
Aunt Jemima, a 130-year-old brand, features a black woman whose name is the same as the brand and was originally dressed as a minstrel character. Over time the image was updated several times, and recently the "mammy kerchief" was changed over criticism that the brand perpetuated a racist stereotype that dated to the days of slavery.
"We recognize Aunt Jemima's origins are based on a racial stereotype," Kristin Kroepfly, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, a subsidiary of PepsiiCo said in a press release. “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 announcement comes as companies and brands across America are facing face intensified backlash on racism amid protests ignited by the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed by a white police officer during an arrest.
Thousands of social media posts on Twitter, Reddit and TikTok have called out the Aunt Jemima brand. One TikTok video posted by African American singer KIRBY was entitled, "How To Make a Non Racist Breakfast." It garnered thousands of views just days after it was posted. During the video KIRBY explained the history of Aunt Jemima.
How To Make A Non Racist Breakfast. #BlackLivesMatter #AllBlackLivesMatter #BlackWomenLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/WY6irZwWtJ— KIRBY (@singkirbysing) June 15, 2020