LOS ANGELES - A growing list of well-known brands are taking a stance against racist stereotypes.
Aunt Jemima, Cream of Wheat and Uncle Ben’s are joining other prominent companies across the country to change or evolve their brands to eliminate racially stereotyped branding.
The decisions come in the wake of renewed national discussion about race and marketing stereotypes following the death of George Floyd during an encounter with Minneapolis police on May 25.
The longtime American breakfast staple syrup, Aunt Jemima, will be changing its name and image.
Quaker Oats owner PepsiCo announced that the brand’s name would be changed and that the image of Aunt Jemima would be removed from all packaging.
Quaker announced the change in a statement. “We are starting by removing the image and changing the name,” Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, wrote. “We will continue the conversation by gathering diverse perspectives from both our organization and the Black community to further evolve the brand and make it one everyone can be proud to have in their pantry.”
The brand features a black woman named Aunt Jemima, which was inspired by the mammy stereotype popular in minstrel shows in the late 1800s.
Soul singer Kirby recently created a TikTok video sharing her feelings about the Aunt Jemima Brand.
The video, which has since gone viral across social media, was titled, “How to make a non-racist breakfast.”
Hours after Aunt Jemima announced its branding change, Uncle Ben’s rice announced that it would be following suit.
Mars Inc., the entity that owns Uncle Ben’s, released a statement that read, in part, “As a global brand, we know we have a responsibility to take a stand in helping to put an end to racial bias and injustices. As we listen to the voices of consumers, especially in the Black community, and to the voices of our Associates worldwide, we recognize that now is the right time to evolve the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity, which we will do.”
Mars Inc. said they do not yet know what the exact changes or timing will be, but that they are “evaluating the possibilities."
Mrs. Butterworth’s is also undergoing a brand and packaging review after rebranding announcements by Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s.
Conagra Brands, which owns the Mrs. Butterworth's line of syrups, announced Wednesday that it will begin a “complete brand and packaging review” of their products.
In a statement to Fox News, the brand said, “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,” the company said.
Conagra Brands said Mrs. Butterworth's is “intended to evoke the images of a loving grandmother,” but the company acknowledged that the packaging might be problematic.
CREAM OF WHEAT:
B&G Foods released a statement and announced that Cream of Wheat would be “initiating an immediate review of the Cream of Wheat brand packaging.”
The company added, “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.”
Earlier this year, Land O’Lakes announced that it would no longer use the Native American woman on its packages of dairy products.
Beth Ford, President and CEO at Land O’ Lakes, wrote, “As Land O’Lakes looks toward our 100th anniversary, we’ve recognized we need packaging that reflects the foundation and heart of our company culture—and nothing does that better than our farmer-owners whose milk is used to produce Land O’Lakes’ dairy products.”
The image had been on the company’s label for nearly 100 years since it was founded in Minnesota in 1921.
GEECHIE BOY MILL:
Geechie Boy Mill, a family-owned operation in South Carolina that makes locally-grown and milled white grits, said it is “listening and reviewing our overall branding," though no decisions have been made.
Geechie is a dialect spoken mainly by the descendants of African-American slaves who settled on the Ogeechee river in Georgia, according to Merriam-Webster.com.
In a statement to The Associated Press, the company said a name change has been under consideration for the past year and discussions have ramped back up given the current climate.