CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — The brand known as Uncle Ben’s has rebranded to Ben’s Originals and relaunched around the country with new packaging.
The design is similar to the old packaging with the familiar orange background and sleek navy blue font. Notably missing from the new packaging is the white-haired Black man, sometimes with a bowtie.
The image, on the rice boxes since the 1940s, has sparked controversy in recent years, with critics saying the image evokes servitude. In September, parent company Mars Inc. said the company would be rebranding.
Mars made the updated branding announcement Wednesday saying in part: “the new packaging is the brand’s next step in its ambition to create a more inclusive future while maintaining its commitment to producing the world’s best rice.”
Pressure on brands to retire racial imagery has intensified amid the Black Lives Matter protests over police killings of unarmed African Americans.
Aunt Jemima and Eskimo Pie are among other brands that have retired racial logos.
“Ben’s Original™ is not just a name and packaging change – we believe everyone deserves to feel welcome, heard and have access to nutritious food,” said Rafael Narvaez, Global CMO of Mars Food. “That’s why we’ve committed to taking actions based on insights from thousands of consumers, as well as our own Associates, that are designed to enhance inclusion and equity in service of our new brand purpose to create meals, experiences and opportunities that offer everyone a seat at the table.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.