Cream of Wheat just became the latest major food brand to announce a review of its controversial mascot following the global uproar over the George Floyd tragedy, which has compelled corporations to reflect on their roles in perpetuating racism.
Aunt Jemima was the first food brand Wednesday to announce it is changing its logo, which for decades has been widely criticized as a racist caricature of a black maid stemming from slavery. Hours later, Uncle Ben's and Mrs. Butterworth's followed suit.
The pressure mounted for other brands Wednesday night when Cream of Wheat's parent company, B&G Foods, issued a statement saying it too has initiated a review of its packaging, which features the image of a black cook widely believed to be based on Chicago chef Frank L. White, who died in 1938.
The problem with the Cream of Wheat guy
Scholars say White's image replaced Cream of Wheat's original black mascot, Rastus, a racist caricature of black Americans that commonly appeared in blackface minstrel shows from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Rastus was depicted as a dim-witted former slave who spoke broken English in early Cream of Wheat ads. Today, the name Rastus is regarded as a racial slur.
"We understand there are concerns regarding the Chef image, and we are committed to evaluating our packaging and will proactively take steps to ensure that we and our brands do not inadvertently contribute to systemic racism," B&G Foods told CNN Business in an emailed statement.
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