Uncle Ben's rice - name to change

Sarah

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Uncle Ben's Rice will change its name to Ben's Original and remove the image of a bow-tied black man from its packaging.

The change follows through on a pledge its owner Mars Food made in June to review the brand amid global protests over police brutality and racism.

Uncle Ben's entered the market in the 1940s and was for decades the best-selling rice in the US.

Its marketing has been criticised for perpetuating racial stereotypes.

Titles such as uncle and aunt were used in southern US states to refer to black people, instead of the more formal and respectful "Miss" or "Mister".


The name of the Uncle Ben's supposedly came from a Texas farmer known for his high-quality rice. The company asked the head waiter at a fancy Chicago restaurant to pose as the face of the brand.

"We understand the inequities that were associated with the name and face of the previous brand, and as we announced in June, we have committed to change," Mars said.

The new packaging is expected to begin reaching shops in 2021.

Mars said it would also work with the National Urban League in the US to support black chefs with scholarships and invest in Greenville, Mississippi, where the rice is made.

"The brand is not just changing its name and image on the package. It is also taking action to enhance inclusion and equity and setting out its new brand purpose to create opportunities that offer everyone a seat at the table," the company said.

Mars was one of several food giants that promised to review brands in the wake of the protests triggered by George Floyd's murder.

Pepsi also said it would overhaul the marketing for its popular Aunt Jemima pancakes.
 

Angela Channing

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Good.
 

CeeCee72

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Seriously, I don't get why this bothers people. Times change. Additudes change. It's a marketing tool and these are private companies. If they want to change with the times, why should anyone get testy over it?
 

Daniel Avery

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I'm not at all bothered by their efforts to rebrand. I just think that when a company makes such a decision because of the current political climate and then pats themselves on the back about it (sending out press releases) it smacks of pandering and bandwagon-jumping rather than simply doing the right thing for its own sake, which they could have done at any time in the past thirty years. Lord knows people had suggested it for at least that long.

An aunt of mine used to serve Ben's boil-in-bag rice they sold in the 1980s/1990s and my mom used to derisively call it "plastic rice" behind Aunt Alice's back. I hope they've upgraded their product since then, too because that stuff was terrible.
 
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bmasters9

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An aunt of mine used to serve Ben's boil-in-bag rice they sold in the 1980s/1990s and my mom used to derisively call it "plastic rice" behind Aunt Alice's back. I hope they've upgraded their product since then, too because that stuff was terrible.

Did it taste like plastic?
 

Daniel Avery

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The texture was odd, a bit too hard--I think that was why she referred to it as "plastic," not the flavor per se. The inability to cook the salt into the rice properly (relying on salting it after cooking, which never works) added to the bad results. I like my rice to be sticky (a bit overcooked) and the Ben's rice always turned out the opposite. I think she also equated "plastic" with it being a bit too perfect, with all the grains intact, since rice cooked the usual way often breaks up and looks different. I'm never going to call myself a Great Southern Cook but even I can boil a pot of rice correctly and not need to use boil-in-bag stuff.
 

Barbara Fan

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I dont actually mind Uncle Bens rice and Id rather buy it and microwave it than go to the bother of boiling it, having to sieve it and wait longer then clean a pot

Ive tasted worse!
 

bmasters9

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The texture was odd, a bit too hard--I think that was why she referred to it as "plastic," not the flavor per se. The inability to cook the salt into the rice properly (relying on salting it after cooking, which never works) added to the bad results. I like my rice to be sticky (a bit overcooked) and the Ben's rice always turned out the opposite. I think she also equated "plastic" with it being a bit too perfect, with all the grains intact, since rice cooked the usual way often breaks up and looks different. I'm never going to call myself a Great Southern Cook but even I can boil a pot of rice correctly and not need to use boil-in-bag stuff.

That's what I wanted to know-- just seeking clarification.
 

Mo Mouse

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I'm not a great fan of rice, to be honest. I prefer baked potatoes, especially with a knob of butter, although I wouldn't really have one for my main meal if I was really hungry. If I was really hungry, I'd probably go for a piece of steak and some roast potatoes. I mean, home made roast potatoes that you roast in the oven yourself, not that Aunt Bessie shit.

Not a big fan of Yorkshire Puddings though.
 

Crimson

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I admit this is the kind of "issue" that I find perplexing in both directions. This seems like the kind of performative, incidental issue that mostly a certain strain of white liberals get worked up over. On the other hand, it's a commercial brand owned by a corporate conglomerate. Why would anyone care what it's called or what its packaging looks like?
 
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Via The Void

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I dont actually mind Uncle Bens rice and Id rather buy it and microwave it than go to the bother of boiling it, having to sieve it and wait longer then clean a pot

Ive tasted worse!

I buy the boil in the bag Basmati or Thai Jasmine rice. Asda's own brand.

I'm always making curries & chilli con carne's & those rices are great.

I used to buy Uncle Ben's rice but it's got quite expensive now. :)
 

bmasters9

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I mean, home made roast potatoes that you roast in the oven yourself, not that Aunt Bessie shit.

What's wrong with Aunt Bessie potatoes?
 

bmasters9

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