B&G Foods is removing an image of the African-American chef that has appeared on its Cream of Wheat packaging since 1890. The character on the packaging is named Rastus, which is a derogatory term traditionally associated with African Americans in the US.
“While research indicates the image may be based upon an actual Chicago chef named Frank White, it reminds some consumers of earlier depictions they find offensive,” the company said in a statement.
“Therefore, we are removing the chef image from all Cream of Wheat packaging.”
The new packaging is expected to roll out in the first quarter of 2021, it added.
‘Let’s work together to progress toward change’
Other companies to make the move include PepsiCo, Conagra Brands, Mars Inc and Land ‘OLakes, along with a host in the personal care space.
In June, PepsiCo’s Quaker Oats acquiesced its Aunt Jemima brand is rooted in racist imagery and will be changing the name of its pancake mix and syrup range.
Conagra Brands said the branding of its Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup – intended to evoke the images of a loving grandmother – “may be interpreted in a way that is wholly inconsistent with our values” and is undergoing a complete brand and packaging review.
“It’s heartbreaking and unacceptable that racism and racial injustices exist around the world. We will be part of the solution. Let’s work together to progress toward change,” the company said in a statement.
Mars Inc. is changing the name of its Uncle Ben’s rice to Ben’s Original and will discard the image of Uncle Ben from its packaging.
US agricultural cooperative Land O’Lakes has also said it will change its packaging and remove the depiction of a Native-American woman from its brand by early next year.