The makers of the breakfast porridge Cream of Wheat is conducting “an immediate review” of the brand’s packaging, which prominently features a smiling Black chef.
The move by B&G Foods, based in Parsippany, New Jersey, comes on the heels of Quaker Oats announcing it’s doing away with the brand name Aunt Jemima for its syrup and Mars Inc. saying the company’s Uncle Ben’s rice would be changing its name.
B&G Foods said in a statement Wednesday that it was “initiating an immediate review of the Cream of Wheat brand packaging.”
“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,” according to a company statement.
“B&G Foods unequivocally stands against prejudice and injustice of any kind.”
Since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on May 25, nearly every walk of life — including the food industry — is undergoing a vigorous self-examination of their roles in propping up institutional racism.
In the case of Uncle Ben’s, critics have pointed out the problematic use of a Black man to be the face of a white company, noting that Black men were often referred to as “boy” or “uncle” to avoid calling them “Mr.” during the country’s Jim Crow era.
Quaker Oats acknowledged the Aunt Jemima character’s roots in racial stereotypes. The 130-year-old brand features a Black woman who was originally dressed as a minstrel character.