Who is aunt Jemima

Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima are disappearing from the range

American food manufacturers are rethinking and redesigning a number of traditional brands. But to whom do the faces belong that encourage racial stereotyping?

Anyone looking for “Uncle Ben’s” travel in the store from 2021 will come away with nothing. On Wednesday Mars Inc. - the confectionery manufacturer controlled by the Mars family, produces not only animal feed but also rice in the US state of Mississippi - announced that it would rename the Uncle Ben’s brand to Ben’s Original. This is no surprise, as Mars had already “recognized” in mid-June that the time had come to “further develop” the “Uncle Ben’s” brand. Mars said on Wednesday that it has listened to thousands of consumers, its own employees and other interested parties over the past few weeks and that it understands the injustices associated with the old brand.

In other words, Mars recognizes that the image of an elderly black man next to Uncle Ben’s inscription on its packaging encourages racial stereotyping. Such rebranding processes are also taking place at Quaker Oats and B&G Foods. Quaker, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, sells pancake mixes and syrups under the 130-year-old Aunt Jemima brand with the image of a laughing black woman. B&G Foods produces the wheat semolina breakfast mix, Cream of Wheat, on the packaging of which a black man in a chef's hat laughingly advertises a steaming bowl of porridge. Quaker Oats and B&G Foods are redesigning their packaging and branding “so as not to inadvertently contribute to systemic racism”.

But who are the people who are likely to be depicted until the end of the year? Uncle Ben is believed to have been a legendary Texas farmer, known for his high quality rice. The face appearing next to the brand belongs to Frank Brown, the head waiter at a Chicago restaurant who was ready to pose in the late 1940s. The model Nancy Green, an activist and former slave and domestic servant, served Aunt Jemima as a model in 1893. Finally, head chef Frank L. White was photographed for Cream of Wheat in Chicago in 1900.