News that B&G Foods will be conducting an "immediate review" of the Cream of Wheat logo has sparked a fierce debate on social media. The food company announced the potential rebrand Thursday morning in response to growing calls for brands to take accountability for the racial stereotypes adorning their products, making it the fourth brand in the span of just 24 hours to announce a review of packaging over racist origins.
Having come under scrutiny in recent days for the racist origins of the smiling Black chef taking center stage on its packaging, the food company acknowledged that "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." For 130 years, the Cream of Wheat logo has borne the image of a smiling Black chef, who, prior to basing its image on late Chicago chef Frank L. White, was based on Rastus, a black caricature that appeared in minstrel shows in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In early Cream of Wheat advertisements, the chef was depicted as being formerly enslaved, slow-witted, and nearly illiterate. Although the image has been adapted, many argue that the racial undertones remain, prompting B&G Foods' decision.
The move followed on the heels of announcements from the parent companies of Aunt Jemima breakfast products, Uncle Ben's rice, and Mrs. Butterworth's that the brands would be undergoing an overhaul. News that Cream of Wheat would be taking similar measures sparked immediate response on social media. Keep scrolling to see all the reactions coming in on Twitter.
Good. We all should be reviewing our own actions, thoughts, and feelings right now! Our fellow citizens are pointing to the injustices in America and it’s about damn time we ALL listen!!!! #ThursdayThoughts— Desiray Botelho (@BotelhoDesiray) June 18, 2020
I’m glad these companies realized the stigma of this is offensive. Put them in a museum. Teach children this is not okay.— Nikki Eddins (@niksnook57) June 18, 2020
As we talk about Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, please don't forget about Rastus (that is the characters name, look up what Rastus means) from Cream of Wheat. pic.twitter.com/luklkfK3IF— K. Renae P. (@KRenaeP) June 17, 2020
Y’all literally do know that Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, and Rastus from the Cream of Wheat brand are all racist depictions of black people right? Cuz it’s late and I don’t mind giving y’all a racism in advertising lesson before bed. pic.twitter.com/NmrVLsIdcu— Elle (@KissedByElle) June 17, 2020
It's a good thing to change such imagery if it's severe enough but it's also important to not erase them from history. Let them always serve as a reminder that we've come a long way but still have a ways to go.— Luna Eclypse (@LunaEclypse) June 17, 2020
Even if you werent taught about aunt jemima, uncle ben, mrs butterworth, & cream of wheat all you would have to do is look at the package & know what’s up! pic.twitter.com/KIvTZJciKs— Tiffani Peoples (@Tiffluvs2shop) June 17, 2020
Why are white people so upset about losing Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben and perhaps the Cream Of Wheat guy. What’s in it for them? I don’t care about who’s on Brawny paper towels. What’s the real issue?— Jason Elias (@Zebop) June 18, 2020
Cream of wheat's depiction wasn't of a chef it was a domestic worker.— hyperably (@Hyperbaly) June 18, 2020
Changing some racist marketing is a start but what's next? If they are not already doing so I would think huge donations or contributions to the betterment of black people regularly are in order....... HBCU's, Black youth programs, etc! #CreamofWheat #AuntJemima #UncleBens— Dennis Cole (@dencolejr) June 18, 2020
Look my dudes, you can still eat Cream of Wheat & Aunt Jeminina & Mrs Butterworth, you just can’t be a giant ostrich with its head in the sand about their racist connotations. The syrup will taste the same even if it’s not in a bottle shaped like Hattie McDaniel. Get over it.— Seege (@SeegeVega) June 18, 2020
Lmao who even eats cream of wheat stop it 😭— 69th Ward Alderman (@DanaHollyWood) June 18, 2020
Dear packaged food brands: if your mascot is any sort of domestic worker from 70+ years ago, go ahead and retire it now. Don't waste time asking if it looks racist or sexist. You know it does, just update your brand already. #CreamofWheat #UncleBens #AuntJemima— Sean Ringey (@z3an) June 18, 2020
While agree with these moves being made (high time). The REAL question is who's family received compensation for the pain behind these caricatures?— It’s Ej from the East (@GrammaRage) June 18, 2020
The companies that own @UncleBens #AuntJemima #Rastus #CreamofWheat have made billions of dollars collectively. You ask how to help pic.twitter.com/lnCeSRa4Lq