Uncle Ben’s rice to be renamed after facing ‘racism’ backlash

Sep 24, 2020
Uncle's Ben's has got a new name. Source: Getty.

Uncle Ben’s rice products will be rebranded as Ben’s Original after the 70-year-old company faced severe backlash earlier this year for racial stereotyping. The 70-year-old company made the announcement on Thursday and said it would also remove its logo which depicts an elderly white-haired black man.

“Over the last several weeks, we have listened to thousands of consumers, our own Associates and other stakeholders from around the world,” the company said in a statement. “We understand the inequities that were associated with the name and face of the Uncle Ben’s brand and as we announced in June, we have committed to change.

“We will change our name to Ben’s Original as well as remove the image on our packaging to create more equitable iconography. This change signals our ambition to create a more inclusive future while maintaining our commitment to producing the world’s best rice.

“We are not just changing our name and the image on the package, but also taking action to enhance inclusion and equity—and that comes with a new brand purpose to create opportunities that offer everyone a seat at the table.”

The change has received a mix of reviews from people online. While the majority praised the company for the rebrand, others have mocked the decision, with Twitter user @mattjwillis1 writing: “I’m offended by the word ‘original’. Please make the change for me.”

Meanwhile, @QealPoCoTex wrote: “What if I have an uncle named Ben? What should he do? Change his name to ‘Ben Original’?”

While @expat_crypto supported the decision, writing: “Ben is not an African name. This is racist.”

The name change comes after Australia’s popular cheese brand Coon announced it will be rebranding. Saputo Dairy Australia, who owns Coon cheese, said in a statement in July that after careful consideration they’ll be renaming the popular Aussie cheese.

“At Saputo, one of our basic principles as an organisation is to treat people with respect and without discrimination and we will not condone behaviour that goes against this,” Saputo said. “As such, we performed a careful and diligent review of a sensitive situation involving one of our brands. We wanted to ensure we listened to all the concerns surrounding the COON brand name, while also considering comments from consumers who cherish the brand and recognise the origin of its founder Edward William Coon, which they feel connected to.

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