Uncle Penn’s rice gets its new name after a racially identical hierarchy

Uncle Penn's rice gets its new name after a racially identical hierarchy

Rice brand Uncle Benz makers have released a new name for the product following the shouts of shoppers.

The popular line of rice and side dishes has been presented since 1946 by the image of an old black man named Mama Ben.

However, following the Black Lives Matter movement earlier this year, consumers criticized the brand for perpetuating racist stereotypes.

What is Uncle Penn’s new name?

Mars Food, the company behind the brand, announced on Wednesday, September 23, that Mama Pence’s name will be renamed as Pine Original.

The move is a sign that the company will maintain its commitment to produce the best rice in the world and identify the brand’s ambition to create an all-inclusive future.

“Over the past several weeks, we have observed thousands of consumers, our own associates and other stakeholders around the world,” said Fiona Dawson, Global Chair of Foods, Multisales and Global Customers.

“We understand the inequalities associated with the previous brand name and face. As we announced in June, we are committed to change.”

The company has also promised to remove the film from the packaging.

What did the brand say about the move?

An online report reads: “Over the past several weeks, we have observed thousands of consumers, our own associates and other stakeholders around the world.

“We understand the inequalities associated with the Uncle Ben brand name and face, and as we announced in June, we are committed to change.

“We will change our name to Ben Original and remove the image on our packaging to create an equivalent iconography. This change signifies our ambition to create an all-inclusive future while maintaining our commitment to produce the best rice in the world.

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“We are not only changing our name and image on the set, but also taking steps to improve additions and equity – which comes with a brand new purpose to create opportunities for everyone to have a seat at the table.

“Our community development programs will ensure that we all have access to decent nutritious food for communities.

“We help educate culinary entrepreneurs of all colors so their ideas and voices can be appreciated by all. This work will begin in the United States, where we will partner with the National Urban League to support interested black chefs through scholarships, and we will then expand our efforts to support other communities around the world.”

“In addition, we will be investing in Greenville, Mississippi – where our brand has been manufactured in the United States for over 40 years – to address issues that have plagued this region of the United States for generations.

“The program will focus on improving educational opportunities for more than 7,500 area students and further increase access to new foods.

“These initial steps are in addition to the duties coming from Mars, which are linked to promoting racial equality throughout our business, increasing representation in our staff, leadership and talent pipelines, making better use of our costs, especially among our suppliers, and making a positive difference.

“Implementing an evolution on this scale would be a complex process that would take considerable time, and there is no better time than now. We will immediately begin production of our new brand identity and Benin’s original will begin to reach store shelves early next year.

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“We hope you will continue to welcome us to your dinner table because we work to ensure that everyone always welcomes us.”

When will the changes take place?

Penn’s original packaging will begin to reach store shelves in 2021.

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Cory Weinberg

About the Author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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