Cream of Wheat to Officially Remove the Chef from Its Packaging
In June, Quaker Oats announced the company would be ending its Aunt Jemima brand, admitting the syrup’s namesake was “based on a racial stereotype.” Earlier this week, Mars Inc. announced the evolution of Uncle Ben’s, addressing “the inequities that were associated with the name and face” of the rice brand. Now, another major packaged food brand is officially updating its imagery in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement: Cream of Wheat is dropping its Black chef logo.
Back in June, B&G Foods—the 131-year-old, New Jersey-based company that currently owns Cream of Wheat—announced that they were “initiating an immediate review of the Cream of Wheat brand packaging.” This week, the results of that review are in: “For years, the image of an African-American chef appeared on our Cream of Wheat packaging,” B&G said in a statement. “While research indicates the image may be based upon an actual Chicago chef named Frank White, it reminds some consumers of earlier depictions they find offensive.” Adding context to this statement, as Forbes explains, before the current chef was used for marketing purposes, Cream of Wheat used the derogatory Rastus character on its packaging which was removed around 1920.
The change comes as little surprise. When B&G first announced the review, they added, “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 unequivocally stands against prejudice and injustice of any kind.” The new packaging, which has not yet been formally revealed, is said to be arriving at stores in the first quarter of next year.
Cream of Wheat was first launched back in 1893. The brand has moved through a number of corporate owners, maintaining the same Chef imagery, before landing with B&G Foods in 2007. And while Cream of Wheat is one of B&G’s best-known brands, it’s just one of many products in the billion-dollar enterprise’s portfolio which also includes names such as Back to Nature, Dash, Green Giant, and Ortega.