The company behind Mrs. Butterworth's has started re-evaluating its corporate mascot. Conagra Brands, which owns the line of breakfast foods, comes after both the Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben brands will have their images overhauled amid ongoing Civil Rights protests. The food manufacturer announced Wednesday that it's "begun a complete brand and packaging review on Mrs. Butterworth's."
"The Mrs. Butterworth's brand, including its syrup packaging, is intended to evoke the images of a loving grandmother," a statement from Conagra read, via USA Today. "We stand in solidarity with our Black and Brown communities, and we can see that our packaging may be interpreted in a way that is wholly inconsistent with our values." The statement went on to read that their decision will "help play an important role in eliminating racial bias," and that "it's heartbreaking and unacceptable that racism and racial injustices exist around the world." While Mrs. Butterworth's race was never explicitly stated, some have interpreted the logo as a "Mammy" stereotype.
On Wednesday, Quaker Oats stated that "Aunt Jemima's origins are based on a racial stereotype," and vowed to overhaul its name and packaging before the upcoming fall season. The Aunt Jemima character itself is based on an old minstrel show song. Minstrel shows were stage productions popular in the late 1800s that typically featured white performers in blackface.
Similarly, Uncle Ben's parent company Mars Inc. also acknowledged in a statement on Wednesday that they "have a responsibility to take a stand in helping to put an end to racial bias and injustices." The company added that "we listen to the voices of consumers, especially in the Black community, and to the voices of our Associates worldwide, we recognize that one way we can do this is by evolving the Uncle Ben's brand, including its visual brand identity."
At this point, the company indicated that it's unclear "what the exact changes or timing will be," though the company is "evaluating all possibilities." The statement added that Uncle Ben's brand is a "values family, quality and bringing people together through cooking and shared meals" and will "continue to honor these values" as it approaches its pending redesign.
Given the overwhelming response to the changes on social media, other brands are being called on to do the same. This list of brands facing backlash includes Cream of Wheat, which also sports a logo with roots that can be traced back to racist origins.