Throughout a summer of reckoning with racial injustice in the U.S., announcements streamed out about packaging changes to eliminate images or brand names viewed as racist or insensitive.
As companies start to release updated branding this fall, here’s a roundup of some major food manufacturers’ actions so far:
Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream: The subsidiary of Froneri, an ice cream venture started in part by Nestlé, renamed Eskimo Pie ice cream bars to Edy’s Pie, acknowledging that the name was derogatory.
Conagra Brands: The company is reviewing its Mrs. Butterworth’s brand, including its iconic syrup bottle shaped like a woman that some associate with a “mammy” racial caricature. Conagra says it understands that the images might not be interpreted as it had hoped—as a loving grandmother.
The Quaker Oats Co.: Aunt Jemima will remove the Black woman’s image from packaging and change the brand name. The company, a PepsiCo subsidiary, tried to update the brand over the years to be respectful but says it realizes the changes fell short.
Mars Food: The business changed the name of Uncle Ben’s rice to Ben’s Original, and will remove the image of a Black man from packaging to create “more equitable iconography.”
B&G Foods: Cream of Wheat hot breakfast cereal is removing the Black chef pictured on packaging, saying some consumers found earlier depictions used by the brand offensive.
Trader Joe’s: The grocery chain labels some of its international-style foods with name variations such as Trader Ming’s, Trader José and Trader Giotto’s. After an online petition sought to end the practice, a spokeswoman said the attempt at inclusiveness “may now have the opposite effect,” noting that the chain was in the process of changing some names to simply Trader Joe’s. But the company quickly clarified to defend the labels, saying it doesn’t agree they are racist and are simply an attempt to have fun. Regular brand updates are based on what doesn’t sell well or doesn’t connect with customers, the company says.
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