First Aunt Jemima, now Uncle Ben’s, old racist logos and characters are finally dying off. Quaker Oats pulled the plug on the 130 year old brand that is fronted by a mammy-ish figure who looks like she just walked off the plantation. “As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations,” was the official company line. Which then led to Uncle Ben’s logo getting the same treatment. “Now is the right time to evolve the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity, which we will do,” said the Mars Company which owns the brand. Earlier this year Land O Lakes phased out the Native American woman they call Mia from their products. The reason, they wanted to focus on the farmers who create their products. The real reason, Native American’s are not mascots. So now that companies are finally waking up to the racist logos and characters representing their brands, who is next? Well here are some suggestions.
Cream Of Wheat
The image on boxes of Cream of Wheat is a old minstrel show character called Rastus. Emery Mapes, the inventor of the product, designed the packages for the “breakfast porridge” himself in 1893, emblazoning the cartons with an image of a jolly African-American chef he called “Rastus” after the cheerful simpletons depicted by Joel Chandler Harris in his Uncle Remus books. The image was offensive; like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, this figure solidified white stereotypes of happy black servants. Look at this Ad from 1921 which projects Rastas as a barely literate imbecile.
Cream of Wheat, y’all are on the clock.
Listen, stopping using the word Eskimo. It should be buried right next to Oriental, Negro, Colored and Indian (as in American Indians). Eskimo Pies were invented in an Ohio sweets shop and were originally called I-Scream bars. Its a universal treat but the people of the great north now go by their tribal names and not the blanket moniker of Eskimo’s which was used by non-native people. Just like the Native Americans, it is disrespectful to call a people by a name that was given to them by, in many instances, racist people who colonized their lands. Nestle what ya gonna do?
Of course there will be people who will say this is an “overreaction” to the climate and times we live in right now, and I would answer by saying, actually its an under reaction, to what has been happening for a very long time.
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